A large portion of my sculpting is made up of private commissions and for that matter, public commissions as well. I enjoy doing them as each is very different and I like the challenge of capturing the subject’s character and bringing the client’s idea to reality. It all starts when I am approached by a client with an idea about a commission… and then the fun begins!
The client usually takes a look at the sculptures I have already created and comes to me with a definite idea of the subject they would like sculpted: “I would like to have a statue of my grandchild/ child/ cat/ dog.”
Now that we know the ‘what,’ we figure out the ‘where.’ I usually ask where they want it located and if they will be able to see it from a variety of locations. The specific location may change the way it is sculpted. The sculpture could be standing or sitting on a bench, a specific rock, a wall, or I can provide a pedestal for it. I’ve even sculpted one boy climbing up a flagpole with his shoes and socks in bronze at the bottom of the pole! Details matter!
Where I live, we have a variety of seasons so we’re not always outside. If the piece is to be outdoors, it is often best if it can be viewed equally well from the indoors so it brings enjoyment every day.
HOW & OTHER DETAILS
Another question to think about is ‘How will the subject be interacting with its surroundings? Will it be interacting with an animal, a (usually another) child or looking at something such as a pool or garden?’ The details of what the sculpture is doing will bring out its character.
A few years back, I sculpted a clients two grandsons as toddlers. Their personalities were very different from each other. One was very sporty so he was sculpted playing with his favourite soccer ball and the other was very much into construction sites and dump trucks so I sculpted him riding on a big Tonka dump truck.
THE PROCESS BEGINS
Quite often the subject I’m going to sculpt has grown up. The client often wants them sculpted when they were children. I guess they were cuter then! In these circumstances, we agree on a pose, the clothing and I go and find a model with the same body type and size. I’ll take photos of the model in a couple of different poses and let the client decide which pose they like. I then get as many photos of their child at the age they are to be sculpted and super impose that head to the body of the model.
Other times, especially with grandchildren, I’ll take photos of the individual or have a parent do that. Then I’ll work right from these photos. I don’t do too much sculpting from a posing live model because nobody wants to sit around for hours trying to hold a facial expression! Sometimes after I’ve done the bulk of the work, I’ll have the subject come in for a bit to do some final touches. Usually it’s the parent or grandparent that comes in and tells me to tweek a little here and there until we’re done.
Once the client is perfectly happy and has “signed off” or accepted the clay sculpture, this is the point where the transformation from clay to bronze begins.
MAKING THE MOLD
The mold making is next in the process. This is the step of making a complete negative of the completed clay sculpture. This usually takes about one week to complete.
After the mold is prepared, the casting process takes place. It’s a rather involved process that I’ll cover in another blog post, but you can see the basics on my website in a photo version. It’s quite labour intensive and frankly, a royal pain in the ***!
DELIVERY AND INSTALLATION
The best part for me and the client is the delivery and installation of the sculpture. This often happens several months after the process first began when everything has finally come together. My greatest compliment is when I exceed my client’s expectations.
International Bronze Sculptor