Last year we were approached to do a custom necklace version of the legendary TIME cover photo featuring the goddess Laverne Cox.
I was OVER THE MOON happy to tackle such a powerful woman and advocate of equal rights who's truly used her fame and talent to make a major change in the world.
Excited with the challenge of a photo-realistic piece I was thrilled to try a new 3D technique I had swimming in my mind for bit, to give more depth to human features. Her head and hair were going to be in 3 layers, thus bringing them forward from the body, like in real life.
So I quickly replicated her Herve Leger dress in mirrored blue, had a blast etching and painting her shoes and details and topped her off with metallic gold hair, like a true goddess deserves. But when I was done, the limiting factor of our color selection in the acrylic medium made one thing very obvious: it wasn't Laverne. I had mentioned to our customer that we only have light ivory and dark dark brown available for us to use as skin colors, and since Laverne is somewhere between light and dark I didn't have the perfect color to match, but we proceeded. Here's the first stab:
So we decided together with our customer's feedback and immense patience to be true to Laverne and honor her stunning looks by finding a way to create her in a darker shade. After a few experiments with rastering and painting acrylic, we turned our attention to wood, which neither my husband or myself had EVER worked with. There were so many unknowns: which type of wood, should we stain it, what settings does our laser machine need to cut it properly, how can we etch/paint the details on her face and feet, which type of paint to use? We did many, mostly catastrophic, experiments with 4 different types of wood and settings before finally finding the right mix. And we couldn't be happier with the results.
Finally Laverne looked more like Laverne and less like Grace Kelly (like our customer jokingly commented!). And then we shipped her out and prayed for the best "dear shipping and acrylic gods, may she arrive safe and unscathed and may the customer adore her - thank you - amen".
And today we got the joy of seeing this glorious necklace on our gorgeous and happy customer! We couldn't be happier and more relieved. Thanks again for this opportunity to create a piece of art that honors such a force of nature.
Meli & Hugo