by Lucy Francis
I’ve always loved dogs. My earliest toys were stuffed dogs and all I ever wanted was a real dog. My father was a dog person too–a little more than ordinary people–so he never appeared to tire of my endless chatter and questions, all about dogs. When I was old enough and had a Barbie doll, Barbie had dogs–lots of dogs– which I made from models I purchased at a hobby shop. Glass statues worked also but of course were fragile.
When my children were almost grown I had a powerful feeling to create, and with a little time for myself, I started doing different projects. Over the holidays in the later 90s two ideas came to me. The first was to make some sort of ornament with yarn for a Cairn terrier fancier I’d met at the dog shows. Soon idea two merged with the first. I started a miniature of my parents’ Yorkshire terrier, Ceca. She had recently died and my elderly father had adored her. The idea of losing the last dog of your life is so very emotional, and I wanted him to be able to see her again. I was about to turn the ornament into Ceca, somehow! I had no idea, really. I created my own technique, which I still use. It can take a week or months, but the result is what matters. My best friend, Ted, a Cairn mix, was as usual at my side, so I looked at him and decided I could use his fur. So I said, “Come here Ted!” Ted heard me ask for him to volunteer fur that entire weekend.
With bead eyes and nose it looked pretty good, but it looked like Ted, not Ceca. Heading with my girlfriend to an outdoor festival selling homemade soap, I took the mini-Ted with to sit on our table, since the real Ted was along to accompany us. The comments from the public that day really got me thinking people might like an ornament of their own dog.
My friend sent an article about me to a few magazines and a miniature magazine published it. There I found myself in a huge small world filled with the most incredible creative people making everything miniaturized. I started doing the International Miniature show in Chicago. For ten years I sold and showed the dogs there. I really have one foot in each world. I love both the dog owners and miniaturists. It took me many years to learn about this miniature world. Scale for one usually 1/12-inch to the foot. Now I make all different scales. I make them very tiny to wear as earrings or large enough to display with a 16-inch fashion doll.
Even life-size has been done. Barbie is not left behind even today. I make dogs her size and use her for photography shoots.
I never tire of seeing the dog pictures. I suppose being able to make them and constantly look at them and talk to the dog owners keeps me going. The art pieces were borne out of love for dogs, but this is what gives them a soul. It is not just a piece of art to me. I see the dog or other pet come through in the face and I know when it’s finished.
It may take months to get a owner’s pet just right. I work closely with the owners because they know their dog best. Sometimes seeing what you need in a photograph isn’t that easy. It has to be as right as I can get it. Dog fur comes in the mail many times. Treasured fur saved and looked at–cherished, really. I am inspired when I open those envelopes and start putting the fur on the sculpture. Alpaca is also used because most real fur cannot do it alone. I use some real fur in certain areas and tell the owner where so they can connect with their old friend.
My real dogs were and still are my inspiration. Old Ted the Cairn that donated his fur to the original piece has been made a couple of times. The final piece I made of him is larger, using all his own fur. He is still keeping an eye on me like he did in real life. Cinder, my female Cairn, used to enjoy having her coat stripped, so I saved enough of her fur to make a life size sculpture of her. I have made miniatures of most of my dogs. Currently I have a ten-year-old Cairn terrier, Bob, and a Mini-Pin rescue, Fred.
Magazines from Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and of course the United States have featured my dogs in a variety of ways. Many dogs went to the Puppenhaus Miniature Museum in Basal, Switzerland. I have an English Pointer in the Miniature Museum in Kentucky in a hunting setting. I have made dogs for famous people like Martha Stewart. I made hers as a gift, knowing how she loved her Chow Chow Paw Paw. She had her producer call me because she was so pleased with it. I was offered a spot on her TV show, but declined. Her producer ordered her Springer Spaniel to be made. I made Terry for Shirley MacLaine, one for John Prime, Keith Sykes’ dog Henry. A replica of Rin-Tin-Tin is in his museum in Texas.
I donate often to causes helping dogs. First and foremost for me is creating as realistic and well done piece as I can. A dog is a magical creatures mends our hearts, lick our wounds and stay by our side through anything. It is a bond not broken. People seem to understand this artwork is an emotional business to me.
To find out more about Lucy and her creations and see photos of her work, go to :