I’m working on the bust of Patsy separately. By doing this I can get much closer and spend a considerable amount of time on it. I love the photos that Howard gave me. I don’t think there is one angle that I am missing; it is great to have such good reference material. Patsy feels friendly from the moment I put my hands in the clay. This is not the case with all sculptures; often it takes some time to get used to the sculpture.

The clay that I use for the sculpture is a waxed base clay and must be heated up in a crock pot. The armature of the bust is wire and foam. Carefully I put the clay on this armature. The clay is extremely hot and it causes terrible burns if I am not careful.

I keep looking and comparing the photos of Patsy.

While away at college in Vermont at the end of April. I was anxious to get home and work on Patsy. In my study of the process, I must say I am not sure what I read into this process to help me do it, and what is really happening. Several nights I said, right out loud, “Not now, be patient, I’ll get to sculpting soon.” I am not sure if I was telling Patsy or myself. However, since then I have had a second commission that has come about. Lucas was 5 when he drowned in the pool at his day care. As soon as his mother called and she began talking to me about Lucas and doing a sculpture of him, I felt an immediate connection to him. I have not seen any pictures of him however, I can feel him, and kind of see him in my head. I need to get Patsy further along before I can think about sculpting Lucas. I had noticed in the past that when I try to work on more than one person at a time, unless they are siblings, their personalities, spirits or whatever seem to get all mixed up in the clay. I don’t know how to define it, I don’t even know if anyone else notices. But I do!

The funny thing is I feel that same urging that I felt from Patsy about getting going on with the sculpture however, there are some differences. Instead of a nudging or a reminding, as I felt with the Patsy sculpture, there is this feeling of “Come play with me, please.” Once again, this may be what I read into the sculpture to be able to do it, and not anything mystical or psychic or of that nature. I just know that with that sort of pleading from Lucas it is hard to ignore.

During this process of sculpting I saturate myself with everything that is Patsy. One day while soaking in the tub I was thinking about the pictures and found myself talking to Patsy. I didn’t even realize I did this, and had I not been doing this study along with the sculpture I would never have known that I do. “Your boys are wonderful they have grown into such incredible men.” I said, not even realizing. I looked around the bathroom and thought, “I must be crazy.” However, after taking some time to reflect on what I was doing I couldn’t help myself. I thought of the pictures of Patsy with her grandchildren and I kept talking. “It must be wonderful to be a grandmother,” I said.

I think the most profound thing that is coming from the in-depth study of posthumous portraiture, is that I have had to ask myself the question, “Am I communicating with the deceased?” It sounds too eerie, too strange, and too off the wall, but as I am taking a closer look at the entire thing, I believe something is happening. I spoke to my mother about this subject. I really trust her judgement, and she is not only my physical mother but a spiritual mother as well. She believes that The Holy Spirit inspires me to do what I do. Either way, I know it brings healing. There is often healing of family members through the process of posthumous sculpture.

Memorial Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon shows the pose.
Patsy’s clothes.

I spoke to Howard, Patsy’s husband, and asked him for as many photographs of Patsy as possible. These photographs are necessary for me to obtain a likeness of Patsy, but more than that, sometimes I think I can “feel” Patsy through these photographs. I have been trying to pay close attention to this study and the sculpting of Patsy. I search for who she is in everything. Howard brought by Patsy’s shoes and dress. This is an incredible thing for me to sculpt from. On my first day in the studio, before beginning to sculpt, I sat alone with Patsy’s dress and shoes, and I thought a lot about her. There are several of the photographs that Howard has given to me of Patsy that when I look at them they just really get to me.

If you are a friend or family member of Patsy and can post comments and feelings about Patsy, I would greatly appreciate it. If they are personal, please e-mail them to me and put “Patsy comments” in the subject line. All of these comments help me to know Patsy better.

I am utilizing my studies at Vermont College and incorporating this semester’s work into my newest projects. One of which, is the lifesize bronze sculpture of Patsy. I have decided to take a very close look at how I create posthumous portraiture. People always say that my sculptures are so life-like and have such spirit to them. It is easy to say how I do that with those who I have met and come to know, but in this study I am not only going to document the process of sculpting, but I am also going to take a very intimate look at how I do this sort of thing. How do I capture the sprit of a person I have never met? How do I capture the spirit of the deceased? Why do I love doing posthumous portraits? What are the psychological aspects of this type of work for both my client and myself? As I journal the process, I am intending to make it a book, “In Loving Memory of… Capturing the Spirit of the Deceased, a Sculptor’s Journey.”

If you are following the sculpture of Patsy, you will quickly be able to find posts that are about the sculpture. They will start with, “In loving memory of Patsy…” You can also search Patsy in the categories.