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    Artist Melissa Gondek with her hug sculpture

    Our choices make the world beautiful

    Every moment, we can choose to give beauty to the world. We can offer comfort and compassion. To be patient with the store clerk, or kind to the call center operator. Phone a hurting friend. Offer an arm, a smile, an ear, a shoulder. Hug a spouse, a child, a sister. Say “I love you.”

    We can bless the world with the beauty of our choices.

    But despite our intentions, we fall into other stories. Work stress, commuting, that driver who cut you off. Misunderstandings and curt words. Too much to do and not enough time. World conflict, environmental disaster, the neighbor’s barking dog. Illness, hospitals, loss.

    Yet we also surround ourselves with objects that bring us back to our intentions. Artwork, gifts, keepsakes, or a pine cone from the yard – we imbue our surroundings with our memories and invest them with our hopes. When we see these reminders, we come back to what we value most.

    I choose to create sculpture to remind us of our beautiful moments. Like a kiss that changed your life. Holding a pet who rescued you. Resting inside a hug when your heart is breaking. Taking a silent breath that centers your soul.

    I choose to create sculpture that invites us to be beautiful. Every time you look at my artwork, or touch it, or carry it from room to room, you’re reminding yourself of the bonds that bring you joy. You’re grounded. You’re connected. You remember your intentions for giving beauty to the world.

    And remembering, you see your own beauty reflected back at you.

    I choose to create sculpture to remind you that the world is more beautiful because of you. You are the blessing. Keep being the beauty.

    You may know me as Melissa, who started sculpting clay animals and mud pies in a sultry backyard full of hickory nuts, June bugs, and unicorns (my unicorn was named Petunia). Or maybe as an English major with sensible hair, who forgot about unicorns to hunt big-city corporate dreams that didn’t look a lot like dreams when you caught them.

    Or perhaps you just know me as a mildly eccentric sculptor (with mildly sensible hair) who decided to find and embrace splendid things. After a while, I remembered how to add a little more beauty to the world through art. I returned to the elation (and gut-churning anxiety) of casting my sculpture into the world. And then delighting in the uncontained smile of recipients, the smile that radiates joy like a hug full of puppies.

    I sculpt to inspire that smile.

    Completing a handmade sculpture

    My sculpture portrays the connections that make our lives shine, whether within couples, between friends, or with our furry companions. I find brilliance in the little gestures – the tilt of a head or the position of a hand – that whisper unmistakably of love. My greatest delight comes when collectors laugh in recognition and wonder, “That’s just like us! And we’re beautiful.

    If we’ve met, you know I'm happiest when my hands are working. I fidget endlessly with clay until inspiration strikes (without clay I just fidget, which I'm pretty sure drives my husband crazy, and maybe you, too). I also revel in touching my surroundings to sense texture. I’ve been known to shop for sweaters with my hands, hunting blindly for the perfect nubbiness, weight, and drape. This fondness has resulted in some very ugly sweaters in my life, but they make me quite pleasant to hug.

    Artist Melissa Gondek in her art studio

    In my artwork, HydroStone's satin surface and solid weight satisfy my urge for a delicious, touchable sculpture. Light plays across its velvety surface, and your hands cradle its delectable weight (don't just take my word for it - see what others say). Creating artwork to be held also quiets my inner child, who complains that too much art comes with “Don’t Touch!” warnings. (Read more about cast-stone on my blog.)

    I’m proud (and pretty humbled) to say that my sculpture now lives in more than 13 countries across 4 continents. Wherever you live, I want my artwork to bring you comfort, connection, and reminders that you - and the world you're building - are beautiful.

    Also, to bring you smiles.

    (Want to know more? Take a peek at my Frequently Asked Questions or Contact Me.)

    Sculptor Melissa Gondek getting dirty in her art studio

    Eight Fun Facts

    I enjoy trying to foxtrot and railing against historically inaccurate fiction, although rarely at the same time

    I married my junior-high sweetheart, but only after making him wait 29 years (he says it was worth the wait, and I have to agree)

    I get entirely too sentimental about weddings, TV shows about lost pets, and the wild bunnies living in my backyard

    I'm sometimes driven to fits of hiking, but am more often found contemplating the middle distance with a glass of something shaken or stirred

    I can make a perfect pound cake, change my own oil, and calculate the air-speed velocity of a laden swallow, but I never manage to fold a fitted sheet

    I refuse to get worked up when the Capitals lose the Stanley Cup playoffs again. Again.  

    I'm passionately committed to discovering exquisite red velvet cupcakes in Southern California (current front-runner: Aunt Joy's Bakery, Burbank)

    And yet I'm determined to ignore certain inconvenient facts about red velvet cupcakes when combined with an avoidance of exercise

    Sculptor Melissa Gondek not in her art studio
    We're all familiar with hanging pictures, right? Wall, nail, picture. Or maybe shelf, easel, picture. But sculpture asks us to think differently and to consider other ways to approach displaying our art.
    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...
    I'm calling for a dash of small magic to dress up our modern ways and help gifts feel special. You don't have to go all-out for every occasion, or turn your gift-giving habits completely on their head. Try choosing one or two gifts you'll add magic to this year and see how you feel. Or just focus on the presents to your closest family, or just to the ones away from home. And take away a little big of that magic to keep for yourself, all year long.