Step by Step Portrait

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Bust is finished in Museum White


Each spring when I am planting annuals in my garden, I hate that moment when I must behead the new plantings. You know what I mean if you garden.

Deadheading of blossoms must be done to allow energy to be turned to root production and the development of a multi-branched plant. I know this, but plucking off the beautiful flower heads goes against all my instincts for instant gratification.

Did you know that in the production of a portrait bust in clay there is a similar painful moment?

When sculpting of the clay likeness is completed, it must be sliced in half, hollowed out, and seamlessly put back together. This hollowing out step is absolutely necessary or the piece would explode in the kiln while being fired. What a vulnerable moment though!  Weeks or even months of work could be lost in this moment.

But it’s worth it. In the end the work will be finished as lovingly as a well tended flower bush.

(portrait photo courtesy:

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is almost upon us, and I don’t even know what that means. My friend and I kicked that phrase around the other day and I decided I should do some research.

According to Wikipedia: ” The ides of March (Latin: Idus Martias) is the name of March 15 in the Roman calendar…The Ides of March was a festive day  dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was assassinated in…44 B.C. In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Caesar is warned to “beware the Ides of March.”

This Roman marble carving of Caesar, which currently resides in the Vatican Museums is a wonderful portrait of  a strong ruler, who it is surprising to note, actually ruled Rome for only 5 years.  A good reproduction of this very piece can be purchased from  companies such as

In 2008, an exciting discovery of a portrait believed to be Julius Caesar,  and sculpted in 46 B.C.,  was dragged up from the Rhone River in France.  This is an aging Caesar, heavier in the face, but with the unmistakable features of the younger man.

I should explore this portrait further.  There is a crudeness to it that makes me question its authenticity.

Beware the Ides of March!!!

Consider the Creche

Boxing Day was yesterday and as I gathered  up the wrapping paper and empty boxes from under the tree I also took time to  leaf  through one of my gifts tucked under there.

What a lovely book, by Matthew Powell, O.P.

It is entitled:

“The Christmas Creche: Treasure  of Faith, Art and Theater.”

I found the variety of styles and materials that the Creche has been crafted out of  quite fascinating.  Consider this primitive, carved stone set above by Irish sculptor Kieran Ford,  inspired by ancient Celtic statues and ruins.

Or….how about this one below, which I couldn’t help but think of as Extreme Creche!   How amazing, right?!!!!  This looks like a painting,  but Click closer…..these are actually hundreds of small figurines  in a 3-dimensional landscape.  This is the “Cuciniello Creche” housed at the Museo di San Martino, Naples, Italy.  According to my book: “this exemplifies the elaborate and extensive Nativities of eighteenth-century Naples.”  I’m beginning to think I was born in the wrong century.

It takes time (and money) to create such wonderful works as these.  I would like to challenge you to consider commissioning your own  personal family creche.

Perhaps you might commission one piece of your creche each year to  build something extraordinary  to pass on to your children.

Just look at this beautiful Christ Child cast in wax and surrounded by a real crest of wheat. I love it! I could create a piece like this for you. Maybe it could bear the face of your very own child.

Don’t hesitate to call and just chat. I am always happy to answer questions and describe all the possibilities.  As we approach yet another New Year, I am even more certain that dreams & faith are what life is made of!

Portrait of a Young Poet

I am thankful for the interesting people I meet as I travel down the road of life.

Someone like you,  Alex Gohde:    poet,  actor, musician,  college student, all-around creator.  I was glad you became my daughter’s friend, so that I could meet you too.

Your poetry inspires me, and takes me by surprise, not unlike the unique face you turn to the world.

What a beautiful facial structure, such gentle green eyes, and every feature so classically spaced!  Thank you Alex, for letting me share your poetry in word and form.  Thanks  Be Giving.


Broken Bottle and Styrofoam Cup

In ruins from our wreckless collision
Listless from crashing into you

But I bet you have a few honeydews
Packed away in your purse
Wish I could be your avocado,
But it seems for fruit I’ve turned the worse

Sour sort of wine
The product of pits and rhines

You’re lips will have no touch to my glass
In fact I’m sure you will never thirst again
And here in this cheap carton, I ferment
No desire have you to break bread or share a drink between
Who we once were, friends.

~Alex Gohde (c. 2009)

Make your Own Candle

It’s easy to make your own candle.  My prototype  is complex but simple forms are usually best  for candles. Hover over each image to see  the steps that I take, or double click on the  image to enlarge:

To save you a lot of aggravation I have a couple of important tips that I have learned along the way.

1.  You can use a variety of products to cast your mold with.  Smooth On is a great company with helpful videos and numerous products for the job at hand.  Be very aware that the Platinum cure silicons will NOT set up if you use plasticine clay for your prototype so don’t use it.  For small projects, Walmart or Dick Blick’s have good air-dried clays.

2. Silicone sneaks out of any little crevice, so your wooden box mold (or metal as I have used here), MUST be leak proof.  After you have screwed up all the edges, (or taped it as I have done here), use a hot glue gun to  glue the box down around your sculpture, and then run glue up  along all edges to make a tight seal.  Run it around the bottom as well, and have it ready to use should you find it beginning to leak as you are pouring in the silicone.

3.  When you are pouring your candle wax into the prepared mold,  pour about a third at a time, and rotate the mold allowing it to flow into undercuts and eliminate air bubbles.  At tricky  spots that tend to create missed areas, you can rub with a tool of some kind to allow the wax to get into those areas.

Good Luck!  Hope you have as much fun creating candles as I’m having.  The smell of real beeswax is so intoxicating you might just decide to take up beekeeping as I did!

Putting on or Painting on

It’s that time of year where we’re thinking about our Halloween faces once again.  On Facebook I’ve been compeled to paint my face a time or two already.

I have a favorite TV celebrity face, and I realized just the other day I love this face because it is almost perfect as a mask!

cnnI simply can not watch CNN without analyzing the interesting face of Anderson Cooper!  There is something inherently stylized in the nearly rectangular top and sides of his head, enhanced by the crisp cut of his hair.  The perfect triangular jaw  is echoed by the V  and the suggested X of his dress collar.  And I am so intrigued by how the lines of the head continue visually down the front of the suit almost as if they  were drawn in the geometricizing technique of a Manga or  Anime artist.

In fact Mr. Anderson Cooper, you actually remind me of the perfect anime man.  🙂 anime-miracle-train I am certain this entitles you to one Free Portrait Bust! You may redeem  your coupon at  any time.