Every dog has a story and creating that story is my particular pleasure. I started pottery classes in early 2000 and continued working with my mentor until 2014. In 2011, I merged my love of large hand-building with my love of dogs by creating my own dogs in clay, then friends’ dogs and that was the start of MudPups.
As a detail-driven sculptor, I study photography, research anatomy, colouring and mannerisms and then meld this information with your stories to capture the personality of your much-loved pet. Each sculpture is unique and is hand-shaped, stained and fired at my home studio in Queensland, Australia and can be shipped worldwide. I have won a number of awards for my work and I am always working through a long list of commissions.
Each custom sculpture comes with a Certificate of Authencity.
When time permits, I create freestyle sculptures in poses that I love, or from photos that I find online (with permission). These freestyle sculptures are regularly donated to Airedale and Terrier rescue and life assistance organizations, here in Australia and overseas, the rest are for sale in my Etsy Shop. I have calculated that 25% of my work is donated to dog rescues and auctions benefiting dog owners in need.
Creating a MudPup
My sculptures are created using different clays - whichever is most suitable for the subject - porcelain for white pups and polar bears, stained clays for colourful pups, and lightly grogged clays for boisterous pups – like Airedales.
Creating a sculpture takes hours of research for dogs which are not Airedales (for Airedales, I just find one of my pups and get them to pose). For all other breeds, I view and print multiple images in different poses to learn their anatomy and colourings. Next, the appropriate clay is stained (coloured) and test fired to make sure I have the best match to the dog’s coat. Once the colour is right, a larger quantity of clay is stained and left to rest and mature overnight.
The preparation work is now complete and the sculpting and shaping begins. This takes many hours, over a number of days. The body takes half the time and the head and face the other half. It is fascinating to me how eyebrows, eyes, ears, mouth, head position and body position can impart emotion. I am always watching dogs and people and learning from their tiny subtle movements.
With the sculpting and shaping complete, the sculpture rests and dries undercover for at least two weeks. When partly dry, the sculpture is cleaned and smoothed with tiny brushes and sponges. When completely dry, the sculpture is placed in the kiln and fired to 1030C /1886F which takes 28 hours including cooling down. This is known as bisque firing and it turns clay from a friable material into a solid but porous shape.
Now the glaze is applied, highlighting saddles, paws and nose. Back into the kiln for a final firing to 1165C / 2129F. This takes another two days to reach temperature and then cool down. The sculpture is now ready for eyes to be applied using china paints. The sculpture is then sealed with a ceramic sealer and is now complete. The entire process taking six to eight weeks.