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Commissioning a Portrait in Clay

You would like to commission a sculpture
It is the ultimate gift – a portrait sculpted and captured in terracota or creating a bronze, either real of a bronze rendering. Whether it is to mark a special occasion, to preserve memories of your children, or to create an heirloom to pass to the next generation, it is an investment that will bring much pleasure. The best way to learn more about commissioning a sculpture is to read the details below and the associated costs. As with any portrait, the best results are achieved through face-to-face sittings rather than through photographs alone. These sittings can be held in your own home or in my studio in Bibra Lake. My sculptures are created in water based clay.

Stage 1 - Initial Meeting and Choices

Initial Meeting

Initially I would like to meet you. This can be at your home or my studio, to discuss exactly what your requirements are and to see if you feel that I am able to deliver. I will show you my full portfolio of commissions, together with samples of fired clay and my bronze rendered clay.

 

I can have the sculpture created in real bronze but there is a cost to be considered in taking this step. With the bronze rendering I can  explaining the surface finishes (patination) that I can achieve. It is an opportunity to meet one another and for us both to become comfortable with the task ahead!

Choices: At this initial meeting we can discuss all aspects of the work, such as where the bust will be placed, your sitting requirements, the type of expression that you wish to be captured in the work, venue, costs, size of work, type of base, materials, finish of bronze or bronze-rendered clay, delivery dates and traveling expenses etc.

Stage 2 - Contract and Payment

Contract

Everything discussed is drawn up into an informal contract so that you have reference to that which has been discussed. This can be simply in the form of a letter, or a more formal contract, that I will send you outlining what we discussed at our meeting, together with a final quote for the finished work.

 

The quote is always the price you will pay, which will include basic travelling expenses. I ensure that there are no hidden extras and the price that we agree is the price of the final invoice. When you feel comfortable with all the details, the contact can be signed.

From this basis, should you decide to go ahead, the logistics of the modelling sessions begin. However, if you decide not to go ahead with the commission at this stage there is absolutely no commitment. I only ask that you cover my basic travelling expenses, if the meeting has been at your home.

Payment: My preferred method for undertaking a commission is to ask for no payment until the clay is complete and all are happy with it’s likeness. This enables both parties to relax knowing that there is no obligation, nor is there a pressure to achieve a quick result. Over the many years I have found that this simple safety measure works so well, that it has become standard practice for my private commissions.

Stage 3 - Sitting and Decisions

The sitting and sculpting

Most clients favour modelling sessions in the comfort of their own home. This involves choosing a good light room with space to place the dais and manoeuvre the modelling stand together with ample plastic sheeting to protect the floor! I can offer sittings in my Bibra Lake studio should you prefer.

At the end of the sittings many of my clients tell me how relaxing and enjoyable they have been. There is no need to keep absolutely still – on the contrary – it is time for numerous teas/coffees and good conversation.

 

Movement and shuffling to remain comfortable are encouraged and if the work is done in your home, you will have the use of your most comfortable chair.

I will take approximately 10 hours of your time. This can be divided into 6 × 1.5 hours, 5 × 2 hours or 4 × 2.5 hours over a period of no longer than a month.

 

Photographs will be used to minimize your labour, but the process cannot be rushed. If the time-honoured skill and judgement of modelling is to fully capture your appearance, then sittings rather than photographs are essential and I will ask that you allow me to look from all angles.  A skilled eye can always detect the difference between work done from sittings or from photographs.

I invite you and your family to take and active role in informing me of your opinions as to the resemblance of the developing clay, at each stage of the sittings. This helps ensure that everything is considered.

Once the sittings are completed and the clay finished and approved, the work is ready to progress to stage 3. At this stage you will be invoiced for the first payment of 1/2 of the total value of the commission.

Decision Point - This has a large impact to final costs. This is the first decision point. This is where you can decide if you wish to have your sculpture turned into a real bronze statue. 

 

Your work is over and the clay is ready for casting. This can take up to 90 days depending upon the schedule of the bronze casting foundry. From the finished clay a mould is created and then a wax model, which will be reworked. The foundry uses this to cast into bronze.

 

The fine detailed finishing of the bronze is done by the foundary studio to ensure that every nuance is captured as seen, and not lost in the roughness of the casting process.

Bronzing your Sculpture

An alternative to real bronze.

We offer to have sculpture created into actual bronze, but this process is lenghty and costly.

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Most clients favour modelling sessions in the comfort of their own home. This involves choosing a good light room with space to place the dais and manoeuvre the modelling stand together with ample plastic sheeting to protect the floor! I can offer sittings in my Bibra Lake studio should you prefer.

At the end of the sittings many of my clients tell me how relaxing and enjoyable they have been. There is no need to keep absolutely still – on the contrary – it is time for numerous teas/coffees and good conversation.

Bronze Rendering - (An Alternative to real Bronze)

Stage 1 - The sculpture is painted with a white undercoat

Stage 2 - Next the sculputre is painted black. This is done to define depth and contrast.

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Movement and shuffling to remain comfortable are encouraged and if the work is done in your home, you will have the use of your most comfortable chair.

I will take approximately 10 hours of your time. This can be divided into 6 × 1.5 hours, 5 × 2 hours or 4 × 2.5 hours over a period of no longer than a month.

 

Photographs will be used to minimize your labour, but the process cannot be rushed. If the time-honoured skill and judgement of modelling is to fully capture your appearance, then sittings rather than photographs are essential and I will ask that you allow me to look from all angles.  A skilled eye can always detect the difference between work done from sittings or from photographs.

Futher stages of the Bronzing

Stage 3 - Next the sculpture is painted in a copper paint. Leaving some of the black in the deeper parts of the sculpture to give some character.

Stage 4a - We spray the copper paint with a patena acid. This ages the copper to look as though it has been out in the weather.

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I invite you and your family to take and active role in informing me of your opinions as to the resemblance of the developing clay, at each stage of the sittings. This helps ensure that everything is considered.

Once the sittings are completed and the clay finished and approved, the work is ready to progress to stage 3. At this stage you will be invoiced for the first payment of 1/2 of the total value of the commission.

Furhter Bronzing Stages

Stage 4b - The patina is left to dry. This furhter ages the look and the sculpture goes the familiar green of weathered copper.

Stage 5 - We then give a very light coat again of the copper to highligh areas. Finally painting a clear varnish on the sculutre to lock in the patina effect.