In the Making: One-of-a-Kind Pet Memorial Gift

Handmade sculpture for cat lovers

I create a limited number of custom, one-of-a-kind sculptures each year, and every now and then, love to share the stories of how they come about.

This gift was created as a pet memorial for some sweet kitties who'd passed on. It began with only one cat, and grew to include four purring friends, who had once slept surrounding their human.

(Contact me if you'd like learn more about creating your own one-of-a-kind gift.)

The email that started it all made me cry

"I LOVE the [Wake-Up Call] cat sculpture. I see you do custom work and was wondering of you could do one similar. My wife and I have been together since 1989. Ever since we have lived together we have had cats in our lives. One died from complications of diabetes in 2005 at 13 years old. One passed in 2010 from age...he was 19.

"My wife works from home Sammi has been her constant companion. He has always been pretty special. Because of who he his and his ties to our other two cats. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and so I want to give this special gift to her so that she will always have something that is exclusive to her as a memory of her and Sammi. Thank you so much for this I'm sure you can tell it will mean a lot. -D."

First off, D.'s story made me tear up, but you probably figured that if you remember the story of Sydney Crawford. Our cats and dogs (and bunnies, birds, guinea pigs...) leave such a hole in our lives when they pass on. I feel very touched every time someone chooses one of my sculptures as a memorial for a lost pet, or as a gift to someone grieving for their furry friend.

So creating custom pet memorials always feels especially meaningful to me, and I was honored the D. asked me to sculpt something for his wife.

First draft: one kitty spooning

While I frequently begin custom sculpture by making sketches, D.'s description over the course of our emails gave me a very clear picture of what he was looking for. So I decided to begin instead by jumping straight to a draft sculpture based on his initial ideas.

"... instead of the cat seated near the head of the person if you could make it so that the person is in the same position but have the cat laying parallel with the person. The cats head and the persons head would be pointing the same direction and the persons hand would be resting on the cat. "

D. also sent over a photo of his wife sleeping with Sammi, so I was even more sure how to approach his one-of-a-kind design. (Note: I never thought I'd peek in on my collectors while they sleep!)

Draft cat memorial sculpture by Small Company Artworks

One cat is never enough

Hearing the story of all three kitties who'd been so important in their lives, however, I wondered if D. would like to include them in his memorial.

"Wow! I think that would be a great idea because there would be a time when all 3 would be in bed with her at the same time. Also we have a new addition who is a stray that we adopted in the fall of 2015. He always sleeps at her feet but sometime wakes her up in the middle of the night just rubbing his face all over them, cats who can figure them out right?

Truer words were never spoken! Fortunately, I was just sculpting the cats, not trying to figure out their peculiar ways. Because each kitty had his own special spot on the bed, I was able to add them around the figure of D.'s wife. Draft V2 was ready for feedback!

Revised draft pet memorial sculpture from Small Company Artworks

"Perfect! Man, you are good :) This looks great. You have captured them perfect size wise! "

That's about the best email I can get while I'm creating custom work. After a few small adjustments to get tails and kitty heads perfect, I molded and cast the sculpture. You may recall that this is the most nerve-wracking part of the process, since the original sculpture gets destroyed when I create the mold. That means if the cast isn't perfect, we may have to start again. So I take a lot of time and care to get the mold as perfect as possible.*

Final one-of-a-kind (four) cat memorial

Happily, everything came out just as I could wish. I applied the wax and varnish, adding a little extra shine to the kitties to give them a subtle emphasis. Then D.'s sculpture was gift wrapped and mailed off for presentation to his wife.

Completed pet memorial sculpture by Small Company Artworks Four cats sculpture from Small Company Artworks  Sleeping with cats sculpture from Small Company Artworks

Custom cat sculpture from Small Company Artworks

A few days later, D.'s reply came back:

WOW! Thank you so much! She loves it and it is perfect! 

I cannot thank you enough for your work and skills in making this a wonderful gift, you really were able to use your talents to make my idea come to life. I truly appreciate your help with this. My wife has an artistic side to her and this is right up her alley, she loves artwork like this. 

Thank you again and we wish you all the best!

My day/week was made! I'm so glad I could make this special memorial. Thank you, D., for allowing me to design this gift for your wife!


*On my last visit to my mold supplier, I mentioned the angst I always feel when de-molding - will the mold take? Will the casting be true to the original? Did I just destroy the original with no hope of recovery? My supplier laughed and said, "After 30 years of working with molds, I can tell you that feeling never, ever goes away." So there it is.

I create a limited number of custom, one-of-a-kind sculptures each year. The process takes about 4-6 weeks, or longer around the holidays. Contact me in advance of your gift-giving occasion if you'd like to discuss a custom sculpture that captures your perfect message. Or view my shop for ready-to-ship, limited-edition artwork.

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