Sketch of the week #21: Deep sea diver

10 years, 5 months ago 62


Deep sea diver helmet rough sketch.

I noticed that a lot of my projects seem to be born from my own fears and apprehensions. For example: I am quite frightened by the idea of deep water diving and I experience a strong discomfort while swimming in the open water, lakes, rivers or ponds, or any natural body of water for that matter. In fact, I only enjoy swimming and diving in the safe, blue swimming pools with a pleasant, tiled bottom. It’s not so much the water itself that bothers me, as it is the depth, the darkness and the unknowns of its mysterious vastness.

I can’t even be on a blow up toy or a mattress, because I can’t relax and it seems to me that I’m floating high in the sky, but instead of air beneath me, there is only dark water that hides all the visible and exposed things from sight. Swallows them. I can’t dangle my feet in the water if I can’t see the bottom near and clear. And even then I’d rather not. It’s like a reverse fear of heights, in a way. I can’t see what’s under me, and it frightens me. Oh, and the sea weed. That stuff’s just plain terrifying.


So, I tend to avoid even getting in the water when it’s not encased in concrete and tiles. This phobia definitely interferes with my enjoyment of summer at times. But oh, well. I’ve got other things going.


This is the Diver’s helmet modeled in wax. It took  me two weeks of full time work to construct this thing. It was so difficult, I almost lost my mind in the process.

I find water is both beautiful and dangerous and tried to convey this through the Deep Sea Diver project. Somebody cleverly suggested that it was Captain Nemo’s daughter. That is a very good idea. Like I said, my inspiration for this particular head dress was very instinctive and emotional in nature, stemming from my water anxiety, and thus I did not give much thought to the character wearing this helmet. And so now, she shall be Captain Nemo’s daughter. I think it fits the theme of the project very well. Thank you for the suggestion.

62 Responses

  1. Linda says:

    I too have a problem with water. Though I do have dreams where I live and study ocean creatures. And have a mated pair of blue whales as pets. My dream is all in shades of blues and greys. They continue they dont repeat. The structures where we live and study. Very detailed dreams that started 40 years ago and I still have them.
    That blue wax is a fabulous color. To Captain Nemos daughter…..You look Marvolous!


  2. Eiko says:

    I absolutely adore this project. Noire looks so beautiful in that helmet. It’s truly amazing.

    I can relate to your fear. The thought of deep sea diving terrifies me. I don’t like the thought of being surrounded by endless dark nothingness with only an oxygen tank to keep me alive.

    BTW That sea picture scares me. It looks like a bunch of octopuses hiding in the sea, waiting to drag swimmers down under and kill them.

  3. yani says:

    I love the helmet in blue! It would be beautiful to see a version like that but with silver trim… or silver with blue trim…

    I also think that pairing it up with either the octopus tattoo I’ve seen on one of the other dolls would work beautifully :)

    And if she is Nemo’s daughter that makes her an official Princess, since he was Prince Armitage Ranjit Dakkar.

    Also, in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel, Nemo does have a daughter, whose name is Janni…

  4. Two weeks of hard work definitely paid off.
    the attention to detail and the intricacy is so special, and your work always continues to amaze and enthral me.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    This is beautiful! Have you ever thought of doing fantasy creatures like mermaids and fairies which require extra…limbs?

  6. Rachel Bjork says:

    I fear natural bodies of water….and that picture of the seaweed…..I honestly lost my breath for a few moments. I can’t look at it.

  7. LI Jiafei from China says:

    Hi, huge fan from China here. :)

    I got to know your works from the magazine Little Thing and was really amazed on the first sight of those incredible dolls you made.

    You are a true artist.

    BTW, the wax helmet is just insanely beautiful. How can you make things like that? It’s just, so unbelievable.

  8. Maura says:

    All my admiration goes to the Nemo family for their love of the oceanic abyss…I am definitely not a water person. I was born in a sea town, but never learned how to swim properly, depite several attemps: I completely understand how you feel…the darkness at the bottom, the strengh of the element and of its inhabitants make me claustrophobic and very very fragile!!!

    The different stages in the birth of this piece are fascinating. All of them are works of art in their own…

  9. Helewen says:

    The finished helmet in metal is breathtaking! But I’m even more impressed by the helmet in wax! I can’t believe that you’ve actually made the articulations of the “windows” in the front and on the side in wax! I’m astonished by all the tiny details.

  10. Eva says:

    That is the most amazing picture of seaweed I’ve ever seen.

    I completely understand your feelings on water. I was raised on swimming lessons from the time I was an infant, so being in water feels like the most natural thing possible to me. But I also have a deep terror of depths that I can’t see. It’s not a particular danger, more like the unknown springing up out of the darkness right beside me. I used to justify it to myself as sharks, but I feel it even in lakes and quarry pools.

    The blue wax helmet is beautiful. It’s delicate and not as solid and frightening as the metal casting. It has that feeling of the ephemeral.

    I think it’s interesting that you are drawn to the theme of exploration for your girls. The oceans, the skies, even the mists of history, and to death and back, they go everywhere we wish we could.

  11. jslord says:

    I love the wax helmet too. The color and the liquid-looking surface of the wax are like water that has been enchanted, or something.
    Well, I guess that’s logical, considering.

  12. Annina says:

    my boyfriend and me (cause i always show him new posts of yours) are loving the wax model of the helmet, it looks so cool! he has that same fear of natural bodies of water, he is ok about swimming at the beach as long as you can still see the sand under your feet, but not really further out.
    this project is just so cool, each time i see pics of it i just really crave to come see the Berlin show, but i don’t know if i can.
    really great work, you always impress us anew!

  13. Sandra says:

    Wow it’s so impressive : so much details, it’s incredible.
    I think you surprised many people with this helmet.

    If you can open the “windows” (in front and sides), I was answered if the helmet totaly open or if it’s fix on the doll ?

  14. Annette says:

    That helmet is awesome… and in wax..
    I adore your work you are an awesome artist..

    I too have a problem with the sea… I went to a psychic and she told me I was drowned in a previous life… she can see water and a boat in the background… and my fear has carried over to this life…. when I get into water as soon as it hits my knees I start deep breathing… there is never enough air….. I know how you feel it is not good….

  15. Oops… I was going to say if you ever came to Australia I’d like to take you snorkeling….. I can’t actually swim, but I love snorkelling, you can see down into the water and the floor of the ocean seems so much closer, and the colourfull fish come and swim about you… but perhaps my description is actually terrifying you…

    The helmet reminded me of a film “The diving bell and the butterfly” that is the story about a man who becomes completely paralyzed, unable to move his body or talk… and he feels like he is trapped underwater in a heavy antique diving bell.. able to look at the world around him through the tiny glass window, but unable to move or interact. It’s a true story, he managed to communicate his tale by blinking whilst an attendant read out the alphabet… in this way they wrote his autobiography…. it is this intense tale of being trapped and dis-connected from the world and your body that stirred deep emotions when I saw your diving helmet……

  16. That photo of the seaweed in the waves has me agreeing with you Marina. Yikes!

  17. Nick says:

    You know dark, cloudy, deep water is scary for me as well. It’s even worse when its deep and I can see the bottom, and the outer edges are cloudy. It gives you a feel for how massive the body of water is, and how big something could be. I had this experience once on a fishing boat in the ocean. We got in and no where could I see the bottom, we traveled for a few hours and we came to this clear spot. It must have been at least a 100 feet deep. The instant I looked over I couldn’t breathe, and I immediately had to back away and avoid looking to avoid a panic attack. Honest and Truely terrifying.

  18. Marina says:

    Yes, seeing the bottom in the deep clear water also terrifies me for some reason, however, I am actually looking forward to snorkeling in the Great Barrier reef in Australia with Monika.
    As long as the water is fairly clear, shallow and filled with light I’m fine.
    Finding Nemo was very inspirational to me in wanting to see the great reef.

  19. Jenny H says:

    Are you coming to Australia Marina?? I hope so! It would be great to meet you! Like Monika I can’t swim very well either, but strangely enough I love to snorkel too… somehow acquiring some fins and a mask makes all the difference!!! I used to do a lot of snorkelling when I lived in South Australia – yes, shark country, but also really magical underwater, the colours and movement of creatures just spellbinding. That is one mean wave with all that massive weed. Funnily enough I could just imagine tiny Noire in her hemet free-diving amongst it all…!!!

  20. Yuliya says:

    Wow. You described my own fear of dark water in the same way how I feel. I felt a goose skin reading you. Deep-deep, dark sea, sea-weed… ouuugggghhh. It happened after ridding stories about cat-fishes, which eat people at the lake Don…
    Love the helmet. Never worked with the wax, Have no idea how you just handled it. It’s going to be very interesting project.

    P.s. Seems you also have a fear of having babies. Right? Or something like this. And you made pregnant, sad dolls…

    Yuliya (Ukraine-USA)

  21. Marcos Mateu says:

    Great, dramatic designs!
    Btw, I’ve never seen seaweed like the one in the photo, no wander it scares you…

  22. Celena says:

    I’m terrified of seaweed too! I really enjoy seeing and hearing about your process for the little marvels that you create. Thank you for sharing with everyone.

  23. It seems to me like the true meaning of power is not money or fame, but rather the ability to see your fears and demons for what they truly are…terrifying, yes, but also beautiful and worthy of your respect. As Sun-Tzu said, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

    If you can turn your fears into something beautiful–something you can appreciate–well, that is the best gift anyone can give themselves.

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  37. SF says:

    You just described my phobia exactly! It’s so weird (and kinda relieving) to hear that someone else has the same fear as I do. Everyone else just tends to look at me weirdly when I mention that I’m terrified of bodies of water, except for pools.

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