For as long as I have known Loki, I have always found the aesthetics of commonly available Loki imagery and sculpture off-putting and distasteful. It’s not even a specific problem with contemporary Loki statues, but with Norse Gods statues and figurines in general. I find them thoroughly unsuitable as idols in a religious setting, first and foremost because they do not inspire any positive emotional reaction in me. And as per usual in contemporary mainstream, Loki got the short end of an already short stick. From the very beginning, I disliked the overly warrior-like depictions, the ugly grins, horned helmets reminiscent of a devil figure, in short, the prevalence of utterly unsympathetic depictions.
Like many people who worship Loki, I gave all of these a wide berth; and unfortunately, there are no historical figurines that fit the bill (although I do own a t-shirt that I designed and that has his face on it as found on the Snaptun stone!).
I Like the historical figurines that have been found a lot, and if there were a Loki, I would definitely add him to my altar; after all, in all my interaction with Him, I have always given a lot of thought to His historical tradition, which I believe is essential to gaining a well-rounded understanding of any of the old Gods and Goddesses. I do think that the Gods have a “past”, and that said past is a part of who They are. But that does not mean that I stick pedantically to every detail that turns up (too many pitfalls to count!).
The central piece of my altar is an acrylic painting of Loki that isn’t in any kind of specifically “heathen” style. While far from perfect due to my issues with perspective, colouring and artistic expression in general, however, it is easily a better approximation of Him than any of what I’ve seen in online shops.
However, for a while now, I have been wishing for something more tangible, three-dimensional. So I started looking into materials for sculpting that I could process without the benefit of a kiln — and ended up with a thing called super sculpey. And here’s a photographic account of my first foray.
At the first stage, I didn’t know that you could bake Sculpey more than once, so I created a major obstacle for myself by trying to make everything perfect to begin with. Of course, I ended up mushing things all the time, so I finally brilliantly thought of googling it, learning that it’s no problem to bake the polymer clay more than once… what a relief! On the left, you can see the basic figure after the first curing. At this point, I was still fairly convinced that I would add clothing later on. But the more I worked on him, the less likely it became… I just liked the shape of his body too much! As I began to flesh him out, problems started occurring.
As you can see above, he didn’t have facial features at first; those came later. Chin, cheeks, lips, eyebrows, the eyes themselves, nose etc… all those required more material to be added to the core head. Once I started making his face, I realised that I had miscalculated the amount of material I would need to give him a face. The core I had started out with was too big to fit the proportions of the figure itself.
Furthermore, I was unhappy with his hands. They were clumsy and ungainly, and I just really didn’t like them. So, I made a decision and got rid of the arms, and for proportionality’s sake, elongated the legs by… well you see what I did there. At that point, although things weren’t going so well, I had worked myself into a sort of trance so that I just saw what had to be done and did it without worrying if I’d actually achieve the goal I had set for myself. It got better after that: Sculpey has a friendly learning curve, and once I’d tried a couple of things, it got easier.
Although he isn’t quite finished yet in the picture above (there were some more details that I needed to work on), I ended up being quite pleased with the result. I did give him too large feet, but I found them cute and He (Loki) seemed to like them, so they stayed. The second pair of hands also was much better than the first, and I utterly adored the musculature of his upper body and back.
The question of finish was another one that I wasn’t too sure how to approach. I liked how the baking had started to discolour the material around the knees, but at the same time, I didn’t want to have to create skin colour for all his body (there’s nothing as hard as colouring skin so that it doesn’t look flat!). So, I tried white. And while I liked the crisp, clean look of it — I have been known to hang out in the sculpture halls of the Louvre in Paris for hours on end — it wasn’t quite what I was going for.
In the end, I ended up giving him an antique bronze finish, and we’re both very pleased with the result!