Monday, May 23, 2011

Custom Order Dog Sculpture

Recently I was contacted by a man looking for someone to make a custom sculpture of his dog.  Rudy was a Collie/ Irish Wolfhound mix, and apparantly quite a character.  I was more than happy to take on this custom order, which has very special meaning to the customer.  He sent me numerous pictures of Rudy in a variety of poses, along with several close-ups.  When it comes to custom orders like this, plenty of pictures of the subject are very important.  The pose he chose was seated, with the head slightly turned, like in this picture.
You can see how cute he was, and I just love that look on his face.  I'm going to try very hard to capture that happy, fun loving personality.  Creating someone's pet in polymer clay (or any other medium, for that matter), is truly an honor.  I know how important my pets are to me, and I know that many other people feel the same way.  They're an important part of our family.  All of my own pets, past and present, have been immortalized in polymer clay, and those sculptures never fail to bring a smile to my face and warm memories to my heart.
This sculpture is going to be about 7" tall, and I drew out a rough diagram with measurements to refer to as I'm sculpting.  I also spent several days researching both Irish Wolfhounds and Collies.  The customer gave me a very detailed description of Rudy, and which physical characteristics he had from each breed.  Good communication with a customer is very important, and the more information I can get, the better the sculpture will be.
  I started with a firmly packed foil core for both the head and the body.  This cuts down on the amount of clay needed and makes for a stronger finished sculpture.  I coated the foil with Tacky glue so the first layer of clay would adhere better.  At this point the color of the clay isn't that important.  Quite a bit of clay will be added over the core, and I'll paint the details after the piece is baked.  Right now Rudy doesn't look like much, but this is only the beginning.
I keep my laptop on my desk and frequently refer back to the pictures of Rudy to be sure I'm keeping the proportions and general shapes right.  This is where all those pictures from different angles really help.
Here you can see I've added more detail and bulk to the head.  I plan to sculpt him with his mouth open and his tongue out a bit, like in the picture above.  I want to capture that adorable doggy smile. :)
And this picture shows a different angle of his head.  Obviously there's still quite a bit more sculpting to be done before this starts to look like Rudy.  Much of the head will be sculpted before I attach it to the body.  I find it much easier to work with that way.  I've had to take my time with this project, not only because I want to get it just right, but because the weather has been warmer, making the clay more sticky.  When I feel the clay starting to get too soft to work with I set it aside and let it rest for a while.  It does blend nicely when it's warm though, so adding the shaped clay appliques has been easier. 
I'll continue to post my progress on this very special sculpture, and you can watch as someone's beloved pet is formed from polymer clay.  Thanks for sharing another creative journey with me! :-)
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

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