When my son was born, and my wife held him for the first time, I was amazed at how tiny he was, and how beautiful they both were. I also knew, that he would grow up fast and that I needed to capture a piece of this memory. The work "Blissful Sleep" was inspired by the moments when my son was sleeping in his mother's arms. His head was tilted back, and his mouth was open in a pure and peaceful abandon. I chose sculpture as my medium for expression, since I wanted to depict the form and emotion, but also true to life-size, the sculpture would physically embody how small a baby really is..
I started sculpting my son just 4-5 days after he was born. I moved my sculpting supplies in our bedroom and worked on the sculpture while he was sleeping or breastfeeding. Sometimes, I carried the clay head around the house and sculpted wherever he happened to be. He slept soundly at the time and was not much bothered by my working close to him. Once, the proportions were correct and all the major features were in place, I mounted the head on an armature and proceeded to sculpt the finer details. I sculpted at different times of day and night, and under different lighting, to help me refine the forms and the shadows that they create.
I completed modeling in clay after about two months - reworking some of the features several times, as they needed refinement, but also because they were gradually changing as he was growing.
Casting In Bronze
"Blissful Sleep" was cast in bronze using the "lost wax" method. This method has been used for thousands of years and remains largely the same today. It involves a number of steps, but at a very high-level, it is as follows. First, a rubber mold is created from the clay sculpture. Then, the mold is used to make a copy of the sculpture in wax. The sculptor refines the wax and ensures that it is ready for metal casting. Next, the wax undergoes a process of coating in a slurry of silica. The coating is allowed to dry and it is fired at a high temperature, such that the wax melts away and a ceramic shell remains. Molten bronze is poured into the ceramic shell and after cooling off, the shell is broken and the bronze remains. In the final step, the sculptor works together with a patina artist to color or "patina" the artwork.