Animals have always played a huge role in Judi Paul’s life. The creative soul behind Luxembears, Paul has always worn her love of furry, four-footed friends on her sleeve. She is an unabashed fan of dogs, bunnies, bears (of course), goats, lambs, and pretty much every other critter that can be converted into a soft-art surrogate. A gal who will bravely swim with a dolphin, or let a tiger nestle in her lap, Judi Paul adores wildlife in its many incarnations. So, it should come as no surprise that the multifaceted bear artist has decided to transform troll dolls into cute, unexpected woodland animals and fantasy creatures. She’s taking a doll that normally equals homely and goofy, and converting it into cute, heartwarming, and downright darling!
Having salvaged a box of trolls that were languishing in her cellar, Paul took her forgotten dolls and have given them a new lease on life. She decorated her home with the trolls and then began to research what other ones are out there, and what are people doing with these emblems of the Swinging Sixties. After “trolling” these sites about trolls—sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun—Paul began to buy more and more trolls, and these oddball creatures have begun her new creative outlet.
“I did a troll of my pet miniature Australian shepherd, with clay sculpted ears, sculpted teeth, and a suede tongue. I painted all her markings and hand-painted her eyes,” Paul revealed. “On my troll page (Troll Arts by J Luxembears), I offer to custom pet trolls. A collector can send me several photos of their pet and I will do a troll transformation. I even offer to work in a small amount of their pet’s hair somewhere on the troll, or I will place it inside the troll’s body. It will be like a keepsake. As well as my work with dogs, I can do cats, hamsters, parrots, or ferrets. Basically, I think I can do just about any kind of animal!”
Paul’s connection to the mythical milieu of trolls is only a few months old. In a short amount of time, she has gone on a “troll roll.” She admits that her days begin with figuring out ways to transform the trolls, and it ends that way as well. She is consumed with this new burst of vitality.
“Honestly, it was out of the blue that I first came up with the idea to turn one of the trolls into a unicorn. I airbrushed and hand-painted furry details, added a big mop of the iconic troll hair, and added a tail and a seashell horn. I called it a ‘Trollicorn.’ I experimented and figured out a several-step process and application to ensure that the paint would be solid and scratch proof.” Judi posted her first Trollicorn on a Facebook page devoted to troll enthusiasts. “It was so well received that I sold it and made more. It’s been snowballing ever since then. I hardly have any time to work on my soft-sculpture animals!”
Over the past few years, Paul admits, she had slowed down with the number of creations that bore her Luxembears brand name: “This was due to many outside factors, but now through some changes, I have a completely renewed spirit. It feels wonderful and I just need to balance my time so I have room for all art forms.”
As a purveyor of handmade bears and other beasts that always smacked of beauty and majesty, magic and realism, Paul is naturally imbuing her troll dolls with these animal attractions. She is playfully turning the Good Luck troll dolls into a menagerie of wildlife and wildly imaginative fantasy creations. “Troll collectors are very similar to bear collectors,” she told me. “They are fun and very young at heart. Avid troll fans are called ‘Trollies.’” Her newfound Trollies fan base is clamoring for whatever she can dream up. So far, she has not disappointed them.
“I’ve made several dragons, where I added sculpted tails, forehead spikes, teeth, and pointy ear tips on trolls with rounded ears. I’ve made baby dragons. I’ve done a Seatroll, which is a sea turtle. I’ve done a Mertroll, which is a mermaid,” she listed. In addition to the mythological denizens, Paul has also meticulously made real-life counterparts. “I’ve made leopards, tigers, raccoons, skunks, and pandas. Ideas are flooding into my head from I don’t know where, and it continues all the time.”
Promising that she will not abandon her Luxembears soft-sculpture art, Judi Paul is currently setting up a new website. It will be called LuxembearsStudios.com. On that cyber site, she will include a section for her troll art. She has been bitten by their unexpected charm and charisma.
“I am not sure what to call this kind of original art. Troll Transformations? Trollovers? Troll Makeovers? I don’t know how to describe what I am doing, but I want to continue to do it for a long time. It’s just like with my artist bears, I think about my next design when I go to sleep, when I wake up, and pretty much all day long. It is really reinvigorating me!”
Read more about Judi Paul’s troll dolls on our sister website for DOLLS magazine.