My First Commissioned Work

After sharing my work with colleagues at work, one person reached out and asked if I could do a commission. Her daughter had published her first novel, Valkyrie, and she had an image from the book that she would like turned into a sculpture.

This subject matter isn’t something I normally work on, but I was intrigued by the challenge and agreed to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. It challenged me in ways I hadn’t been challenged before, helped me establish rules and procedures for pricing my work, and helped me establish more of the business side of my sculpting.

I approached this process in much the same way as any sculpture I’ve done from a 2D reference, but in this case I literally only had one view to work with. That made interpretation of the unseen shapes and volumes much more difficult. Also, my style of sculpture leans more toward the impressionists and far less than the realists. This subject matter demanded clean lines and polished surfaces and that’s just not how I work. My lines are less clean and the surfaces are rough and interpretive rather than measured and precise.

Regardless, I pressed on and she approved the final clay when it was done.

Once the clay final was approved, I moved into molding and casting. The original intent was to pour a cold-cast bronze of the piece, but I just couldn’t get the bronze to cooperate. Also, during the molding process, I tried to use a tin-cured silicone product and, while it is very easy to use, it did not give me a clean mold and I ended up having to use copious amounts of epoxy putty to repair the problem areas and then re-mold the entire thing in a two-part pour mold. This doubled my molding expenses and was an expensive lesson in using materials I am used to.

After getting a clean black resin cast, I moved on to finishing. I ended up using pewter rub and buff metallic paint. It was in keeping with the original photo and gave a nice “sci-fi” finish. Better than the cold-cast bronze would have. I left the helmet visor black to give it a more glass look and polished the rest. I added a clear acrylic base to the wood base and included a nice name plate with year on it.

I’m happy with the final result, I hope she and her daughter are pleased as well.

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