Portrait Sculpture

in Bronze or Fired Clay

Live sitting with fashion designer Isabel Knowles 2019

Live sitting with fashion designer Isabel Knowles 2019

Commissioning a portrait sculpture created for your home is a decision which will bring you and your family joy for generations to come. The value of owning a portrait of your child or cherished family member is immeasurable. Whether created in classic bronze or contemporary fired ceramic your portrait will last the life time of the model and be handed on to their great grandchildren in years to come. Capturing such a brief moment in time is such a personal and precious way gift your family, an heirloom, a bespoke piece of art to be treasured as a family legacy forever.  

When sculpting a portrait I aim, not only to create an beautiful likeness but also to capture within the clay the intangible qualities of the sitter. This often reveals itself as a fleeting expression - sometimes nothing more than a half-smile or glint in their eye. 

I like to keep my clients involved and updated throughout the whole fascinating process of creating a portrait sculpture particularly for children, it’s a unique and unforgettable experience that I encourage them to be involved in: from the excitement of the first sitting through the refinement of the modelling stage, moulding and finally firing the glazed piece or casting into beautiful bronze and applying the coloured patena to the piece. After contacting me by email at keziahburt@gmail.com to discuss your ideas the next step is to arrange a sitting.

Portrait sitting with Evie age 7

Portrait sitting with Evie age 7


Adults are invited to sit for a four to five hour sitting with plenty of breaks for tea and cake. However, as a mother I fully understand the limitations of convincing a child to sit still enough to enable me to sculpt them. Whilst I am capable of sculpting portraits solely using photographs, it is ideal to have one or two sittings from life. Typically I would either arrange to visit your home or host you at my studio in Yorkshire. During the first session I will take many photographs from different angles and some key measurements.  I will also sketch the likeness from several angles to help me understand the topography of your features. I work incredibly rapidly and for children will achieve a good likeness with in an hour or two that can subsequently be refined without their presence. However having them directly in front of me for the initial sitting enables me to establish the main proportions and structural shapes of the sculpture.

A day often offers sufficient time for me to gather the essential information to create an accurate portrait with an adult or child sitter.  If  possible I like to arrange a final sitting towards the end of the sculpting process. This allows a direct comparison of the nearly finished clay portrait sculpture, I can then make any necessary adjustments before the next stage.

Clay Sculpture

After the initial sitting I will utilize my photos, measurements and sketches to complete the portrait. Once the clay head has taken shape I will send photographs for your approval or you can visit the studio and see it for yourself. It is at this stage that we can arrange a final sitting and make any minor adjustments to the sculpt.

If you choose the fired clay option then I will carefully hollow out and bisc fire the portrait in my kiln. After first firing we move to the second stage, high firing with the glaze of your choice gently applied to its surface. I can achieve a wide range of glaze colour finishes including an excellent Bronzed effect and mottled copper patenna.


Moulding for Bronze

This stage is for Bronze commissions only. Once the clay sculpture has been approved I will make a negative mould of the portrait using silicone rubber and plaster of paris. I then use this mould to delicately create the wax positive copy of your sculpture, fettling and finishing the wax until it is perfect and ready for the Foundry.


.Bronze Foundry

There are several stages in order to produce a bronze cast from a wax copy. Firstly a ceramic shell mould is made of the wax. The wax is then melted out of the mould and molten bronze poured in. Once cooled the ceramic material is then chipped off the cast which is repaired and tidied up ready for colouring or patination. I like to involve my clients in the final stage of patination. A huge range of colours can be selected from for the colouration of the bronze and it is fascinating to visit the foundry and see the dramatic process of applying the colour with flame.


Payment and Prices

Every commission is unique and prices vary according to size and specific requirements. I take one third payment in advance, one third on approval of the final clay sculpt and the final third on completion of the bronze or ceramic portrait.

As a guide my day fee for a sittings is £500 per day for the clay portrait sculpting. Then you simply decide if you want to fire the ceramic or have me mould it and cast in bronze. All sculptures will be presented on a wooden or bronze base of your choosing.

Please contact me by email to discuss your commissioning needs.