Last year when I was contacted by Jeanine’s parents they sent her life mask to me. It was taken when she was about ten years old. They wanted to know if I could cast her image from the mask. I have documented this in the book, “Bringing to Life the Spirit of the Deceased- A Sculptor’s Journey.” It was strange to look into the life mask. It felt like I could look deep into Jeanine. It is also odd… when you shoot a photograph of a life mask or the inside of a mold, you never really can tell if it is something that is concave or convex.
This is a wonderful thing to have. I have included photographs of the life mask, as well as the cast.
I was so thrilled to hear that Jeanine arrived safely, and that the parents found the sculpture very peaceful. I am honored to be able to give such a gift and help parents in the grieving of their loved one.
I really learned so much about myself through this commission. I talk about it in the book that I am writing “Bringing to Life the Spirit of the Deceased- A Sculptor’s Journey”. Thank you Jeanine.
It is very important to me to have Jeanine and Lucas at my Christmas party on Saturday and then off to their homes by Christmas. I stopped by the foundry today and it was so much fun to see Lucas running through the foundry. I loved on him immediately! I did notice that he didn’t have shoelaces. Often the foundry will fabricate the ties of the shoelaces. So I asked them to redo that and I came back later. When I arrived I almost fainted. Lucas was running with his shoes untied. “It can’t happen,” I said. The mother in me cringed and begged them to try again, making bunny ears and real loops. So it is back to the foundry in the morning. Can’t wait to see him again.
Jeanine is coming along, they are cutting her base and figuring out how to mount her bust on it. I need to go and get some real chain as this will be colored to match the metal and will sit around her neck.
So much to do.
In my off time, My apprentice and I spent a good deal of our time on the floor of the studio, scraping the clay off of it and washing it. It is a chore I hate and will only be done about once or twice a year. Alas, today is my birthday and I spent my morning on my knees. I’m still not done, I have a little bit more floor to clean. I think I may say a few prayers while down there this afternoon.
It made me smile, and it made me cry, but most of all it made me know how profound life and death are.
Jeanine, one of my posthumous commissions is just coming to an end. Finalizing the details I shared with Jeanines mom the wonderful lessons that I learned through this sculpture. I hope to share it in my book and will try to put some of the writing here. The connection between Jeanine, myself and her mom was strong. I wonder, ” What made that happen?” As is relationships in life I think it was the sharing. The sharing of ourselves and our intimate details of our lives. I learned about Jeanine through her mom. Her mom was open and shared quite a bit. I wish all posthumous commissions were like the relationship that was developed here. I can never have too much, I can never have too many photographs or e-mails that just ramble about the person and the love. It is strange to think that I develop a relationship with the deceased. When it was first brought to my attention I though it was impossible, but then as I mulled it over I realized, it is true. Through my work and through death my friendships grow.
The picture above is one of Jeanine’s moms favorite pictures. She says it shows her spirit.
While completing my study and writing the book “Brining to Life the Spirit of the Deceased—A Sculptor’s Journey” my beloved instructor Charlotte Hastings passed away. I had taken this picture of her while at an art show. I was surprised at how similar Charlotte’s picture and Jeanine’s picture are. It is good to remember on those we love, to think about their energy and their affect on our life even after death. Thank you Jeanine, thank you charlotte.
Jeanine is the third posthumous commission that is write about in the book “Bringing to Life the Spirit of the Deceased—A Sculptor’s Journey” I learned a tremendous amount from this commission and she helped me with my epiphany! Thank you Jeanine
Jeanine is also at the foundry and is expected to go home before Christmas. It is a life size bronze bust.
The next step in the foundry process is creating a wax. I have the ability to pour small wax pieces at the studio, but most of the time I send the molds to the foundry for them to pour the waxes. Lucas is at the foundry now.
I have decided to pour the wax of Jeanine at my studio. It is small and I really like the green wax that I pour in. After the mold is made and cleaned, as shown in the previous post, then it is sprayed with a mold-releasing agent.
There are two crock-pots with melted wax in them. Each is at a different temperature. I will be pouring three layers with this wax. The first layer is hotter than the other two. It captures the details. The wax is poured in and then I carefully swish the hot wax around the inside of the sculpture. Trying to maneuver this mold is sometimes difficult; because of the weight of the plaster it takes some muscles. The other two layers are poured in the same way. Once the wax cools I can pull the wax from the mold. If I have made the mold correctly there will not be a problem with pulling the wax from the mold.
When complete I have a thin, hollow wax replica of my original piece. My apprentices and I will be doing a little more work on these waxes before giving them to the foundry and I’ll have the opportunity to tweak the pieces a bit more. I will do this with the Dick Hathaway sculpture as well. Working the waxes saves a bit more money on the foundry costs.
Two sculpture commissions have been in the studio for the past 6-8 months. I have been commissioned to create a life-size bust in bronze of Jeanine, a 26 year old who committed suicide, and a life-size bronze of Lucas, a 5 year old who drowned in a swimming accident.
Because of the nature of the deaths, both of these were difficult sculptures for me to work on. As part of my study at Vermont College I have been examining the process of sculpting the deceased. One element that seems to play a very important roll in the process is my sensitivity to the emotions of my subject and my clients. Some people might term this part of the process psychic empathy, I have been examining it from many different angles than just the paranormal angle. I often can sense and feel things about my subject and the clients that under normal conditions I should not know or feel.
Working through the emotions involved with each commission is as much a part of the process as sculpting. With the commission of Jeanine I had severe feelings of depression that took a great deal of my energy to try to overcome. Somehow walking through those feelings gave me a better sense of who Jeanine was. I am still learning to deal with this part of my talent. Often the emotional aspects that I feel through the sculptures do not feel like they belong to someone else, but instead they feeling like my own. I know it sounds really strange, but it is true. I have almost come to terms with the idea that I can pick up peoples emotions and feelings, they do not have to be near me either. I often feel mom who lives 2,000 miles away and I have also had several feelings from Jeanine’s mom who lives in Alaska- I live in Texas. But I’m not sure about feeling emotions that surround someone who is no longer on this earth. How does this work? This semester’s study leads me into non-local phenomena.
Here are some photographs of the finished sculpture of Jeanine.