In the Making - Wedding Anniversary Family Sculpture

    I was inspired by the 9th anniversary sculpture post. I find myself in a similar position searching for the perfect gift to express my love for my wife and how important she is to our family. - Mike

    I get a little thrill when I see messages like this one. Husbands and wives looking for a unique gift to say "I love you" always make me smile. I think something about the romance really gets me. (But you already that from my "I love you"book prompts, I'll bet.)

    Perfect inspiration

    Mike sent over a few photos of his family for inspiration, and we faced a tough choice: Should he choose a couple sculpture or a design that included the whole family? One of our favorite poses sprang from his wedding photos, but he also wanted to include his two children. As he put it:

    Our anniversary is obviously very personal so I like the concept of a piece that captures our nuptials, well ahead of any rugrats entering the equation. At the same time, the kids are a good reminder of what started that day and I could see the sculpture of us being something she'd like to have at home, but perhaps the family sculpture in her (or my) office.

    For this design, we opted to include the two children. And as it happens, I had been working on design ideas for a new family of four sculpture - without much progress. My previous family designs have been among my most popular, but I couldn't hit on a new sculpture that felt special and natural. Everything I drafted felt wrong - not authentic enough, or without that spark of feeling that makes a design "sing" for me.

    Mike's family portrait struck a chord as soon as I saw it. This relaxed, smiling family, so obviously full of love and support for one another, felt like the perfect family sculpture to add to my collections. What would Mike say to making this sculpture a limited-edition design, rather than one-of-a-kind?

    I'm delighted to say Mike agreed. The family-of-4 statue would become part of my limited-edition collections after he received the first cast.

    From family portrait to family sculpture

    Since we started with a wonderful portrait photo of the family, I could forgo the sketches that usually start the design process. We knew not only the positions and poses of each family member, but also their relative sizes. That helped the first draft come together quite quickly, in fact.

    Draft Custom Family of 4 Sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    The first draft of the family sculpture came together quickly, thanks to perfect inspiration from their family portrait.

    After they reviewed photos of the draft, Mike and his wife requested some tweaks to the figures. It helped tremendously to have such specific feedback.

    I love the composition of the family sculpture in terms of figure positioning, postures and limbs. I think what seems off is the adult heads. From the front and back, they are fine but from the side the heads seem off. Maybe too round? I think the lack of profile (nose, jaw line) is what is throwing me.

    Done and done! I adjusted the planes of the adult faces to suggest more angularity, and sent off a new round of photos. Everything looked good, and I began to create the mold.

    Pouring the mold for custom family of four sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    After the draft got a thumbs up, I built the mold box and created the mold for their sculpture.

    Then came the harrowing part, which is always harrowing no matter how much I prepare. Why, you ask? Because I get exactly one shot at molding the original sculpture. Most sculptures break on de-molding, so I'd have to start from scratch if the mold doesn't come together on the first try.

    I de-molded the model and sure enough, it broke as I removed it. I kept my fingers crossed as I poured the cast stone for the final.

    Broken sculpture model for custom statue - Small Company Artworks

    As usually happens, the model broke on de-molding. That means I have one shot to get the mold right, so I take it slow and steady and try to over-prepare.

    I poured the cast stone and waited. This part always raises my anxiety levels, as I imagine all that could have gone wrong. No matter how long I do this, that feeling never goes away.

    De-molding cast stone family of 4 sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    Please imagine a drum roll at this point, as I remove the cast stone from the mold. Did the mold take? Are there flaws? Yep, a slow, anxiety-extending drumroll plays in my head.

    To my great relief, everything came out perfectly. I moved on to cleaning, sanding, painting, waxing, buffing... all the finishing work. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

    Work in progress cast stone anniversary sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    Work in progress cast stone anniversary sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    Work in progress cast stone anniversary sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    Work in progress cast stone anniversary sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    At last the final coat of paint, wax, and varnish was applied, and I had sanded, buffed, and finished all the details. All that was left was to allow the varnish to set properly so the final sculpture could be safely packaged and sent across country.

    Funny thing is, I never breathe that last sigh of relief until I hear that a sculpture has arrived safely and that all is well.

    Introducing It Started with a Kiss

    As always with  my custom designs, the collectors get to choose the title of the piece. This sculpture had a special meaning for Mike and Jill, and celebrated not just their own wedding anniversary, but their family love. In the end, they chose a wonderful title: It Started with a Kiss.

    Custom wedding anniversary sculpture gift - Small Company Artworks

    It Started with a Kiss family sculpture, limited to an edition of 10

    It Started with a Kiss anniversary gift sculpture - Small Company Artworks

    It Started with a Kiss family sculpture, limited to an edition of 10

    Limited edition family of 4 sculpture gift - Small Company Artworks

    It Started with a Kiss family sculpture, limited to an edition of 10

    Due to the complexity of the mold, this sculpture will be limited to an edition of 10. 

    A huge thank you! to Mike and Jill for giving me this inspiration, and for making this limited-edition family sculpture possible. Happy anniversary!

    The process to create your perfect sculpture gift takes about 4-6 weeks, or longer around the holidays. Contact me if you'd like to discuss a custom sculpture that captures your perfect message. Or view my shop for this and other ready-to-ship, limited-edition artwork.