I was recently commissioned to make a whippet dog sculpture for a family who had sadly lost their whippet, Remus. It was clear from the clients’ photos that Remus was an affectionate dog who loved being part of the family. We discussed what would suit Remus and settled on a sleeping pose.
With their slight, slender bodies, whippets always appear vulnerable to me. It brings out my nurturing side. Of course, all dogs invite petting and stroking (or at least they do for me). They fulfil a basic human need to care for and comfort others. Whippets, of course, are wonderfully elegant dogs, all sweeping slender curves. But their gentle, tender faces will melt your heart.
As with all pet sculptures, Remus was challenging to model and took several days to make. Accurate observation is critical. It’s not enough to capture the general features of the breed. I have to recreate the characteristic traits of the individual animal.
All dogs lie in a certain way, for example. The way head, paws, ears and tail are arranged are all specific to that particular dog. Even small details, such as the angle of the eyelids when sleeping or just napping, can make the difference between a whippet dog sculpture and a sculpture of Remus the whippet.
When the whippet dog sculpture was nearing completion, I asked my clients whether they wanted Remus with his eyes open or closed. I was able to send them photos of both, as it is possible to alter small details like this before the piece is fired. They chose to show Remus lying peacefully with his eyes closed. This certainly suits the pose and works well with this piece.
Everyone at home loved him. My dad was the same as me, very lost for words. Thank you so much for doing him, you have captured him beautifully.
My clients were able to give me photos of Remus from his earliest days as a puppy all the way through life, so I could have sculpted him as a young dog. But they wanted to remember him as an older dog, full of character, with a gentle frosting of grey on his face. I had to put the piece through several Raku firings to achieve the correct subtle colouration, but I’m very pleased with the result.
Losing a beloved pet is never easy and reuniting with a posthumous sculpture can be an emotionally charged experience. When Remus’ owners came to collect their whippet dog sculpture from my studio in Devon, it proved to be a very moving experience for us all.
Remus’ sculpture touched many hearts on social media too, generating over a thousand comments, thousands of shares and reaching over a million people. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you’d like to see what’s going on in the studio and get advance notice of new releases, exhibitions and workshops.
If you would like to commission your own animal sculpture, whether of your pet of your favourite animal, please contact the studio for full details and a quotation or browse my Blog and Portfolio pages for more inspiration.