First Person Singular

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I am a sculptor. I'm a painter. I do portrait work. I came into this by accident. I was doing a show of some of my sculpture in California, and a friend of the family's daughter saw it and asked if I could make her wedding cake topper.

It's actually easier than the other commissioned work I do, in terms of getting it right and meeting expectations. These women, they know what they want. They want to say who they are. It's their money, and they know exactly how they want to spend it. It's not like they're being led around by the nose by their mother.

The thing I like the most is that I get these couples at what is the happiest, most exciting time of their lives. They are just bursting. It's almost like they've taken happiness pills. I get such a thrill out of it; it's good for you to be around all that joy. But it is hard work. It's very detailed, very precise. Couples often send me two full CDs of photos so I can see them from every angle. These two swimmers sent me a photo of them in their suits, and that's what we did for the cake. One couple had me put them on their motorcycle, and that's complicated because you have all these intertwining pieces -- her hand on him, his hand on the handlebars. And the bride wanted her toenails to be lime green. And there's a lot of back and forth with the sketches, especially if it's something specific like the golfing pose one couple had. It was modeled after a Tiger Woods shot, but I'm not a golfer. I had to go online and research golf clothes and golf clubs. She usually loves it, and he's very picky.

I don't want to do this exclusively; it's only about 20 percent of my commissioned work. If I didn't keep it small, it wouldn't be fun. There are enough things you have to do in life. This -- well, I guess I have to say it -- is icing on the cake.

Interview by Amanda Long

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