Kurt Robinette Sculpture: FAQ
Do you accept commissions? If so, how do I order one?
I will selectively accept 2-4 special commissions per year. Terms are half of the payment down at the time of order and the other half due at completion of the piece before shipment. Commissions can be fired clay or bronze sculptures.
Please Note: Specially made commissioned pieces are non-refundable.
To start a project, I will discuss with you your requests about the species and any special poses, size of the piece, requested time for the piece to be completed, etc. I will then give you a quote for the piece. If you wish to book the sculpture, a half down deposit will be required at that time.
I will then design a rough maquette of this idea for your approval. I will send progress photos to you every few weeks once detail is taking place.
Once the piece is completed and painted, final photos of the completed project will be sent to you. Final payment is then required before the piece is shipped off to you. The sculpture will be sent fully insured with tracking.
Because a time estimate is really just a rough guess, please be patient as these individual pieces often take a tremendous amount of time, including proper drying and curing times. You really don't want me to rush your sculpture because I will generally put much more time and work into a piece that isn't under a tight deadline. Being guilty of perfectionism comes with being an artist and I don't want it to leave my studio until it I am very happy with it. Keeping this in mind, if the sculpture is meant to be a gift for a special event, we will need to schedule it out far enough in advance to meet the requested date.
Prices of sculptures include free shipping in the U.S. and Canada. (Other countries will have additional shipping costs.) Once you purchase a piece, we will e-mail you an expected ship date. The piece will generally ship within 48 hours of purchase. Once the piece has shipped, tracking information will be sent to you. We will also follow up and verify that the piece arrived safely to you.
What is your return policy?
We want you to be absolutely happy with your sculpture. We offer a "no questions asked" full refund for 30 days (from the time you receive it.) Just return the piece to us in original condition. (Your return shipping must include full insurance and tracking.) Once we safely receive the piece in original condition, we will credit back the original purchase price.
Please note: This refund policy does not apply to specially commissioned pieces.
How long will it take to get my sculpture once I commission it?
When I accept a commission, I will give you an estimated time for completion. Please keep in mind that these pieces require a great deal of time. Not only does it take many hours of sculpting, the pieces have to be hollowed and thoroughly dried before the piece can be fired in a kiln. Painting also takes a tremendous amount of time. It will be a minimum of 8 weeks from the beginning to completion of a very simple (small) songbird once I start on it. The process simply can't be sped up or the quality of the piece would be compromised. I will be very open about the required time and will simply not knowingly accept a commission timeline that is too tight (like right before Christmas, anniversary, or someone's birthday, etc.)
How durable is fired clay sculpture, isn't it pretty breakable?
Fired clay (also called Terracotta) is surprisingly durable. This medium has been used for thousands of years and has a very rich history in traditional sculpture. The material I use is very high quality, professional stoneware clay. It is not fragile like porcelain. Knocking a piece off of a pedestal will probably break parts of it, but not shatter it (please don't test this!) There are numerous examples throughout history of fired clay sculptures from thousands of years ago. Here are just a few:
Fired Clay (Terracotta) head from the 6th century.
The famous "Terracotta army" soldiers in China, 210 BC.
One of my favorite sculptors: Jean-Antoine Houdon "Bust of Benjamin Franklin" 1778, Terracotta. Pretty cool to think that Franklin himself posed for this bust...
What kind of paints do you use?
I use the highest quality professional fine art oil paints available. There are numerous brands available, and many are excellent, but my favorite is Rembrandt brand (for most colors) from Holland. All of my paints are rated at the highest possible archive rating (100 plus years) which means that they will retain their full color without yellowing or cracking for well over a hundred years if properly cared for.
How much time does it take you to make a sculpture?
I get this question all of the time, and unfortunately, I don't have a good answer! If I kept track of all the time it actually takes me to makes a piece, it would probably really bum me out! The time required depends on the complexity and whether I am working on several other pieces at the same time. (Which I often do.)
Songbirds will take several weeks to sculpt, several weeks to dry, and often several weeks to paint. A larger piece obviously takes much longer. What a lot of people don't realize is that it takes years of research to learn a species to the point that the "spark of life" is evident in the sculpture. The last thing I want to do is just "sculpt a bird." There needs to be much more to it than just that. I want someone to feel the essence of the species and the personality of that individual bird that I created.
Art is supposed to make you FEEL something. My goal is to create an emotion in those who see my work. Keeping that in mind, I will always be pushing myself to get better at the species with each piece. I feel a little more confident in my understanding of some species of birds from years of study. Other attempts deeply humble me with my lack of knowledge and understanding of that species. Always more to learn! I have to pay the personal price to gain that understanding. It's a journey....And a very enjoyable one!
How do I care for my sculptures?
Just like any other piece of art, you will want to put it in a safe place, out of reach of children or pets. (It would surprise you how many cats think these sculptures would taste really good apparently!) The most important thing is to place the sculptures in a location that does not have direct sunlight on them. The paints will last over a hundred years, but if stored in direct sunlight they will fade over time. These sculptures are also protected with a professional fine art varnish so an occasional dusting off with a soft art brush or lightly blowing the dust off with a very small compressor is all the care they really need. (Don't use computer aerosol compressed air cans as they can leave a residue on the paint.)
What payment options are available?
We will only take payments by credit card or PayPal through the website. We live in a sad time when we all have to protect ourselves from scammers and theft. Checks, Money orders, or other payment methods will NOT be accepted. (This policy also protects you as your purchase funds are guaranteed.)
How do you price your sculptures?
Generally it is based on how much time the piece required. If it is more complex in nature, then obviously more time will be needed to complete it. Pieces that have more complicated painting also require more time.
What if I buy a sculpture as a gift and they don't like it? What if I change my mind after receiving a sculpture?
I personally want you to be absolutely happy with your sculpture. We offer a "no questions asked" return with a full refund for 30 days after you receive it...Just return the piece to us in original condition. (Return shipping must also include full insurance and tracking, same as we send them out.) Once we safely receive the piece in original condition, we will credit back the original purchase price.
(Please note: special commissioned pieces are not eligible for a refund.)
What are the differences between an original and a collector's edition?
An original is the actual piece that I sculpted. A collector's edition is a piece that came from a mold of the original sculpture. These editions have the same detail, painting, and form of the original piece. You honestly would not be able to tell the difference by looking at them (even up close.) Both originals and collector's editions are textured, fired, and painted by hand. A collector's edition size of 19 means that I will only make 19 of those pieces and then destroy the mold. Each will be numbered and a certificate of authenticity will be sent. A collector's edition will obviously be sold for less than the original. As a note, if you commission a piece (an original), I will NOT make a mold of your sculpture or create copies without your consent.
Do you sculpt other animals or do busts of people?
Not anymore. In the past, I have sculpted numerous subjects including animals, fish, and even a few portrait busts. Though I enjoyed the challenges, I have decided that I am going to only focus on where I do my favorite and best work, and where my passion lies...and that would be birds. (Life is too short after all...)
What is your favorite bird?
This probably seems like a cliché answer, (because it is...) but my favorite bird is often the one I am researching, sculpting, or painting at the time you ask me! I have a great deal of appreciation for all kinds of birds, for different reasons...and it's hard to describe why. It is kind of like asking someone who their favorite child is! Each is my favorite....for varying reasons. (That answer only makes sense if you are a parent too!)
But, if you keep asking, I will say that it definitely has to be the peregrine falcon. I have loved them my whole life and I still remember very well the day that I first saw one up close. It felt like it looked right through me with those huge, dark, powerful eyes. You know you have been really looked at when a bird of prey looks directly at you! I still feel that way about them, just magnificent creatures with stunning markings, especially the Anatum Peregrine falcon, my absolute favorite.
(One of my anatum peregrine falcons.)
How many birds of prey have you had as a falconer?
I have tried several times and go back and count but quickly lose track. A good guess is probably around twenty birds or so including: kestrels, red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, a peregrine-prairie (hybrid) falcon, a ferruginous hawk, numerous Harris' hawks (another one of my favorites), and four peregrine falcons.
Do you paint on canvas?
I have done a few canvas paintings to learn from or at the request of close family or friends. I have really enjoyed learning about the process of values and color mixing. Painting is a lot of fun but I quickly miss sculpting if I spend too much time away from it. I enjoy going back and forth and becoming better at each. I am not currently planning on creating canvas paintings for the public.
A simple painting I did for one of our daughters.
A cardinal painting I did just for fun...