My wife is in the middle of treatment for illness and there's nothing that means more to her than our little family. I found one of your sculptures on another website and thought that it'll be a great gift for her, but does not seem to be available anymore. -VT*
I received this kind note about one of my family of 4 sculptures, formerly available on UncommonGoods. (You may remember reading my interview with them about my artwork.) I would have been honored to revive this design for VT and his wife, but the sculpture in question was made exclusively for UncommonGoods' catalog and website, and I had since retired the mold.
Exclusive Family of 4 Sculpture, now discontinued
When I don't have a particular design available, collectors sometimes enjoy collaborating with me on a new design. The design can become a one-of-a-kind sculpture, like this pet memorial, or it can become part of my regular collections, like this funny yoga dog sculpture.
VT didn't feel that creating a custom sculpture was right for him right now, but his email had given me an idea. No, he'd given me an inspiration!
If I'd had another family of 4 sculpture or love token available, I could have just suggested it as an alternative, but... nada. Not for lack of trying to create a family of 4 design that I liked, but I was stuck. (Edit: since writing this post, I have a new family of 4! See how the "It Began with a Kiss" family sculpture came to be.)
Over the past few months, I'd made a few draft designs, but none of them had any zing, pizzazz, heart, soul, voice, whatever it is that makes a sculpture right. I ruthlessly smashed them all and vowed to tackle the design again some day.
Family of 3 love token, More Than Anything. But I was stuck trying to find a satisfying design for a Family of 4.
But then I had a light bulb moment.
I've been considering adding a family of 4 love token to my collections. I'm not sure what your timing might be, but I could have one of those available within a month or so. If the idea appeals to you, I'd welcome your family's photos to give me inspiration for the new love token. It wouldn't be one of a kind, but your family could be my inspiration. - MG
Hooray! VT loved that idea, and he graciously sent over a few favorite photos. I knew immediately that I had exactly the right inspiration. At last!
Perfect inspiration at just the right time
I started sculpting right away, and was kind of shocked how quickly it all came together. Goes to show how much the right inspiration matters, doesn't it?
The sculpture was soon ready to mold and cast. The design was quite different from the Family of 3, and I had some anxiety that the mold wouldn't take properly. I also worried that all the tiny details - the hands, feet, little baby heads - wouldn't come out when it was finally cast.
So I did the only thing I could do: I molded, cast, and waited. This part never gets any easier.
Side note: I always consider making offerings to the sculpture gods at this point, if I had any idea who they are and what they like to eat.
Waiting not-so-patiently for the first cast can be excruciating.
To my relief and delight, the first cast came out perfectly. So did the second one. And the one after that. Generally, I stop feeling quite so anxious at that point, although it never really goes away.
The fun part
Then came the fun part (for me) and the hard part (for VT): choosing a title for this new sculpture. Since his family had been the inspiration, he deserved full naming rights, don't you think?
VT decided on a title (in record time, I'll add), I ordered the title cards, and now, I'm delighted to share Now and Always Loved, inspired by VT, his wife, and their 2 children.
Family of 4 love token, Now and Always Loved, inspired and named by VT and his family
What makes the right inspiration, anyway?
I just wanted to let you know that I received it and it looks great. i gave it to my wife and she was blown away. She loves it. -VT
VT's last email had me walking on air.
I sometimes wonder why some sculpture designs come together almost by themselves, while others feel like they're actively fighting back. Like the family of 4 love token I'd tried to create a dozen times, sometimes I just can't get it right.
But this one came together like that, and felt joyous and full of love at every moment. I don't know if it helps or if I'm a little bit crazy, but I focused very hard on filling each casting with all the love I could think of. I like to think it makes a difference.
Call it kismet, the universe, luck, fortune, synergy, coincidence, whatever you like. Over the past few years, I've come to believe that the right design will be inspired by the people who can benefit from it most. With this little love token, I was privileged to create a reminder of the love that surrounds this family and supports VT's wife in her illness (and healing).
I hope it brings VT, his family, and anyone who needs some extra love plenty of joy, smiles, and a reminder of all the good that envelops them. And my deep gratitude goes out to VT for making this little love token possible.
*Emails have been edited for privacy and brevity
Do you have a sculpture design you'd like to collaborate on with me? Contact me to explore ideas and options.