Falling Stardust

I’ve been rather quiet on this blog over the last few weeks but now I can tell you why. DC/Vertigo, besides re-issuing the hardcover edition of Stardust (with loads of new material), will also be producing a number of pieces of supplemental merchandise, among them a sculpture both designed and executed by myself. Ever since completing the art for the initial edition of the book way back in 1998, I’ve ’seen’ this sculpt in my head and now, after a few long weeks, its resting on my front desk in 3-D form.

I began with this sketch which I ran past Georg Brewer over at DC, who has certainly helped make this idea a reality. I wanted to partialy recreate the by now iconic image used on the current trade paperback of Stardust; Evaine crouching by a dark pool of water surrounded by various fairy creatures.


A cicular sheet of cobalt blue glass becomes my pool and the entire piece rests on a base of mahogany (or something that looks very like it).

For my working material here I’m using sculpy. Yes, the very same stuff that kids use in school. Mold it into the shape you want and then just bake it in your kitchen oven to harden it up. Here I decided that the sculpy would prove too soft to construct the entire figure at once so I sculpted the base with its tree, roots, grasses and the lower half of her figure and then fired that.


After firing the base, Georg and I discussed the practicality of producing a useable mold from what I’d done and decided that I’d underscord too much so I filled in where necessary with additional mosses and a more solidified mass of ivy and then began to add her upper torso. No features or hands yet!


Here I’ve very carefully (some might say tediously) worked up her hands, facial features, loose strands of hair and various costume details.


A view from the other side and a close up of her face (below).

Before proceeding to add the various fairy inhabitants of the piece I baked it once more. Less chance of distorting or damaging all the little details that I’d already worked up that way.

All along I’d been planning to place a fiddler in the bowl of the tree, a dancing imp over on her left side and a wee fairy piper on her right. I finished the piper but as I worked on multiple versions of the other two small figures something kept bothering me. I woke one morning with a fresh mind and a clear vision that these two figures were creating far too much visual ‘noise’ for the rather serene mood of the piece. So out they went and two foxes came to join in the fun.




The combination of the wee piper, perched in the tree behind Evaine and the two visiting foxes somehow made the whole piece complete and satisfying, at least for me.


Now, my part is done. So I will very carefully pack the sculpture up and ship it off to James Shoop who will be casting the piece and his wife who will be painting it. And, in July of next year, comic shops everywhere will have the finished sculpture available for sale (that is IF you guys get busy asking for it).

As I mentioned above there will be more Stardust product available through Diamond Distributer’s January Preview catalog (the one currently in comic book shops right now!): 2 posters (with new painted images by myself), a lovely boxed set of notecards featuring 5 seperate images from the book, 2 sets of sculpted busts (Evaine & Lilum/Tristran & Primus by artist Sam Greenwell) and, of course, that new hardcover edition of the book itself.

***Also I was just alerted to the fact that the new hardcover edition of Stardust has been selected as one of their ‘Buyer’s Picks’ by Ingram one of the nation’s largest distributers of books to independent book stores.  Hooray for us!


14 Responses to “Falling Stardust”

  1. stardustgirl says:

    Beautiful! You already knew I thought it was gorgeous, but I’ll say so here too because it’s worth saying again. :-)


  2. Nelson Cosentino says:

    How fantastic work (in all the directions)! its work has an excellent ambientação and composition. It is a lesson for who wants to work with fantastic universes. Penalty that in the Brazil is dificil here to find material its.


  3. Karen Shaffer-Vess says:

    Yes, folks it is quite exquisite. He has been at it day and night. It’s been exasperating at times, but it is very lovely! We’ll see what happens now with the coloring. Now it’s back to the drawing board for the much anticipated “Coyote Road” – a great mix of his favorite writers. Peace y’all!

  4. Polythene Pam says:

    I am amazed, spectacular.

  5. sue says:

    Really charming, a lovely piece. I’m curious as to using Sculpy for such a relatively large work – did it bake solid, or did you hollow it from underneath? How about shrinkage/distortion? It certainly lends itself to fine detail, and while it will be painted, it is beautiful as a white piece on blue glass too – the shadows and workmanship become much more dominant. May I ask what type of molding material will be used? I’ve not cast too many complex molds such as this and am curious – I’m guessing silicon rubber? Then cast with marble impregnated resin? Hope to see a finished piece!

  6. Manuela says:

    Boy, this sculpture is gorgeous. I love how it doesn’t look as kitschy as most of the Fairy/Elf-sculptures you get nowadays. I hope the colours won’t be too garish either (like … pink).
    Any chance it will be available through Amazon as well? It’s nigh impossible to get anything but the most commercialized comic merchandise in comicshops here.

  7. Quixotic says:

    So. Excited.

    Looks wonderful! We wants it we does!

  8. I’m very impressed with Falling Stardust; few artists who work primarily in 2-D could produce such a refined, elegantly executed sculpture. As for the questions raised by Sue, sculptors of fantasy and superhero statues such as Randy Bowen usually work with a solid Sculpey figure. In an article on his working methods in COLLECTING FIGURES, Bowen described starting with a wire skeleton; covering the wire skeleton with Sculpy and firing it in a kitchen oven; sculpting the musculature over the skeleton and firing; sculpting a nude figure on top of this; then finally sculpting the costume and hair. A silicone mold is created from the figure, from which prototype models are cast for painting. The harder and more expensive Super-Sculpey shrinks, whereas the original Sculpey doesn’t. Sculpey is less prone to warpage and distortion than wax.
    As for retail sources for limited edition resin statues, try http://www.budplant.com, or eBay.
    I’m looking forward to TwoMorrows Publishing’s MODERN MASTERS VOL. 11: CHARLES VESS, due to ship in February.The book is already listed as a pre-order item on Amazon.
    Best wishes to all for 2007!

  9. AeireQoW says:

    Oh that’s lovely. I keep staring at the promo Stardust mobile I’ve finally got hanging in my room again and looking at the photos you’ve posted and boggling at your skill, she’s just as lovely in 3D as she in on paper!

  10. folkmew says:

    She’s gorgeous! If I weren’t an incredibly broke grad student/mom I’d order one in a heartbeat!

    You won’t remember me nor should you but just fyi I got some old “Sing Outs” (or wait – maybe “Dirty Linen”? No I think Sing Out) autographed by you at a Boskone and you were delighted because you said no one had ever asked for those to be autographed before. The ballads series they ran. :-) I love your work and I admit I haven’t been following the movie news closely but I keep thinking “I hope he had a real presence in the look and feel of the movie!!”

  11. sue says:

    Michael, thank you – what a great explanation – and here I thought sculpey’s use was limited to very small works such as jewelry. I thought most figurines began with plasticine – though I have heard silicone molds and plasticine don’t always play well together. A distinct advantage of the sculpey is the baking and hardening – I’m sure it gets it thru the moldmaking process quite well.

  12. hairsprayfreak says:

    hey uncle charles how r u i miss u soooooooooo much and i hope to c u soon!!!!!!!!!!!! tell everyone i say hi and lover them but great job with all your work and i cant wait till stardust i am bringing friends to go see it and today i saw hairspray today well i hope to see you soon

  13. [...] His inked illustrations are equally as fantastic. In addition Charles Vess is a skilled painter and sculpter (you can see work-in-progress images of his sculpt of Yvaine of Stardust beginning here). [...]

  14. [...] His inked illustrations are equally as fantastic. In addition Charles Vess is a skilled painter and sculpter (you can see work-in-progress images of his sculpt of Yvaine of Stardust beginning here). [...]

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