Madonna and Child

This project is a limestone, 1/2 life sized Madonna and Child for a Rachel garden for a church in Texas. Scroll down for images of the work in progress.

The full-sized model awaiting mold making.

The project began with this small preparatory maquette.

After interviewing a few different human figure models, I hired this model whose name is, incidentally, Rachel. Most of the sculpting of the full-sized clay model for the statue will be executed in 2-3 hour sessions with Rachel. She stands on a rotating platform which turns to show all angles. For now, we are using a baby doll, but we will be doing a photoshoot with a real-life baby and then use those photos for reference.

The clay modeling process starts with a wire armature over which is placed the clay.

After several sessions, the model begins to resemble the subject. In this photo, I am working from a large printout of photo references which I have taken of Rachel.

The next steps will be to do a photoshoot with a live baby model (which I believe I have found!) and to make the tunic, mantel, and veil with with Our Lady will be draped.

We found a baby model, baby James, and did a photoshoot.

After the photoshoot, I realized that we would need to modify the pose a bit to make allowances for the weight of a real baby and the way an actual child would recline in a woman’s arms.

So, I made a slightly larger “doll” to accommodate the new arm position. We also started experimenting with drapery.

I also ended up purchasing a larger baby doll. So, we are now working with a combination of photo references and live model plus baby doll.

There are a few more model sessions to go of working on the figure un-draped before moving on to the drapery.

The baby is taking shape, and the figure of Our Lady is sufficiently refined to now begin adding drapery.

Beginning to work on the drapery.

Continuing to fill out the drapery.

Update – Dec 2nd, 2022: Adding tunic, mantel, and veil. At this point, the drapery needs refining and filling out, but the basic silhouette is now present.

The clay model is mostly complete. Some surfaces need a bit of finishing, and the model needs to be prepped for mold making, but basically, here’s what it looks like!

A certain amount of work is necessary in order to prep the model for mold making. For instance, negative spaces need to be filled and some deep undercuts eliminated.

Filling in the negative spaces.
Picking up the mold-making supplies from Smooth-On in Pennsylvania. The technical staff helped me to choose the appropriate materials. Keeping up with the advances in mold-making technology is a job in and of itself!
Molding making, day 1! 12 hours of applying layer after layer of silicone rubber.
Adding pieces of the hard shell material to deep undercuts and designing the pieces of the mother mold.
Adding the mother mold piece by piece…
More pieces.
Mother mold complete and cured. Drilling holes for mold bolts.
Taking off the pieces.
Cutting slits for removal of rubber mold from model.
And, the mold is removed! Ready for cleaning, reassembly and casting!
Our Lady in plaster, just come out of the mold.
The limestone block from which the final sculpture will be carved arrived!
Getting the limestone block up onto my bench.
Prepping the model for the pointing (copying) process.
Carving the limestone, using a pointing machine.
Carving around where the hands will be.
Getting some of the deeper points on the torso.
More pointing.
At image showing all the points (locations in 3 dimensions) that have been excavated at this point. Although it doesn’t, at first glance, appear so, a large portion of the work on the face of Our Lady, the baby, and hands has been completed.

Progress on Our Lady as of the end of July. I’m out of town on a contract labor job for the month of August. The studio where I’ll be working (Fairplay Stone Carving in Vermillion, OH) will be great experience, and I’ll be able to return with a better skill set with which to finish up this project!
At the advice of Nick Fairplay, I stood the model and stone upright and reworked the pointing system. Nick says that when pointing work: top to bottom, front to back, and then clean up back to front.
More Material Removed
As of the beginning of January: I know it looks like progress is slow, but the current step is to completely flesh out the face, and that is the most detailed and necessarily precise part of the sculpture, and so progress is tiny chip by tiny chip.

As of April, face fleshed out and working down the figure, resolving the arms and child.

As of May – getting more of the lower body excavated.