There was not an official agreement to have my niece, Emily, model. It was an idea tossed around; just a suggestion but my wheels were turning. What if I she would agree to let me use her disability in the sculpture?
Emily, the sharp-witted/quiet, non-assuming/beautiful, girl/woman is a walking conundrum. Her disabilities are major but not readily noticeable. She has what we used to call a 'withered' arm. She has limited use of her right side and has had a kidney transplant. The two physical ailments may or may not be related. It's funny how doctors don't really have an explanation for why Emily suffers this way. She knows that God knows and He is the one who helps her the most.
Emily didn't ask a single question. All she said was, "yes!"
Before I entered ArtPrize I decided exactly what I would enter and made a maquette. A maquette is a miniature clay model that represents what the final sculpture will look like. My maquette stood about 14 inches tall. It showed my idea of a girl standing in the rain, looking up to the sky and holding a giant leaf in her hand. Her right hand is lifted to touch a drop of rain to her lips. The name, 'Rain', tells part of the story. My intent was to let the viewer tell their own story about this person interacting with nature.
Ann Bjorlie, my sister-in-law, was exited about ArtPrize too. She wanted to help me get the job done and help to promote my entry. I knew it would take a lot of time and energy to accomplish the task and there was only 2 months to work. I welcomed the help but warned her that this effort may not pay off. I had no way to pay her for helping me. She was eager to get involved. It seemed to me that she was the only other person I knew who understood the significance of this endeavor.
We began by cleaning out my garage and finding all of the equipment needed. Ann helped me load up a huge block of styrofoam from Michigan Foam in Grand Rapids, MI. We set it up and I began cutting it down. This was the wrong kind of foam to use and I found out much later that I should have used a much denser product. There were little styrofoam balls floating all over the place. It was the beginning of a huge mess.
Then Emily stepped up to model and things began to take shape. She brought along some patience and I continued to carve away. Soon I realized that the styrofoam would not work for carving fine detail. Casting would be the next step.