MiVT: Vermont Bronze Sculptures

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 12:49 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Vt. (WCAX) - Franklin County’s Elizabeth Parker has always been artistically inclined, but clay sculpting is something fairly new for this former painter.

“It’s so much fun because you’re developing something out of clay and it’s coming to life,” she said.

It’s a skill she gained in an unconventional and unfortunate way.

“My cousin Tony sent me some clay after I was in a head-on accident in July of 2012,” Parker explained.

A teenager in Ohio slammed into Parker, leaving the artist with a traumatic brain injury. She had to relearn how to walk, talk, read and write.

“And then when I was able to be creative, I was a painter, he sent me a bunch of clay and an armature and some sculpting tools,” she said of her cousin, who she says is an esteemed sculptor.

She took a liking to the clay almost instantly as she learned how to make realistic sculptures, and what her doctor saw was amazing.

“I would bring them in and he would be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s just amazing. You’ve gotten a new skill,’” she said.

Now, Parker is moving her sculpting skills from a hobby to a business, launching Vermont Bronze Sculptures just a few days ago. Using oil clay, she takes commissions for all sorts of animals. When we went to visit, she was working on a Morgan horse commission.

“I’m doing ovine, bovine, porcine, equine, canine, feline and avian,” said Parker.

She says she has a request out for gargoyles and dragons. And she’s working on a dancer series, too.

Sculpting the pieces can take months, and miraculously, Parker doesn’t need to use reference pictures either. Once she’s happy with the way the clay bust looks, it’s sent off to a foundry in Randolph.

“And then it’s the teamwork with the foundry, they have to make the mold and they have to turn it into bronze using copper and tin and pour it in with the investment casting,” she explained.

Then it gets a patina before heading to galleries in Stowe or Brattleboro, or right to the doorstep of those who ordered it.

Because of the detail and the cost of bronze, these pieces cost thousands of dollars. Now that she’s made a business out of her hobby, Parker says she’s looking for people to join her.

“I’m actually looking for some people that are associated with disability workers, very talented people that can sometimes be overlooked,” she explained.

Parker says the best way to reach out about a job or a sculpture is to visit her website.

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