Lets Talk Animals

Making Animal Statues

My grandmother used to love to collect animal statues. She had a selection of animal garden statues that was the envy of her neighborhood. It was a pretty settled and older area that she lived in, and so naturally gardening was a high-priority for most of the residents. Practically every week it seemed she would go out looking for a new animal statue and, although she rarely bought one, when she did you could be sure that it would be a good one.

It was actually her obsession with animal sculptures that convinced me to try my hand at it. I had wanted to make something for my grandmother's birthday, and my mother had suggested that I try an art project. I made a little animal statue out of papier-mâché. It was actually a small giraffe, about twice the size of your typical action figure. Although I wasn't very impressed with my own work, my grandmother absolutely adored it. She gave it a perfect spot alongside her other animal statues. Because it was smaller than the other ones, it even had its own mount to raise it up.

Sometimes a little bit of praise and encouragement can go a long way towards getting a kid to continue on with a new art project. From that point on, animal statues were practically all I made for the next several months. It was summertime, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. I would sit out in the sun, making animal statue after statue, using different materials whenever I got the chance. I soon became bored with paper mache. I made wire sculptures, sculptures out of old odds and ends that I found around the house, and even a few statue animals made out of parts of other sculptures.

I did not have my next big breakthrough until I was in college. As a matter of fact, I gave up on animal statues for several years while I was in high school. I did a little bit of sketching, but art sort of took a back burner to some of my other interests. In college, however, I got to try something new: bronze sculpture. It was one of the most exciting things I had ever tried. There's nothing quite like the thrill of watching molten metal harden into an original work of art. It gave me the encouragement I needed to continue working with my animal sculptures.


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