My brother-in-law, Dean, has worked with mink his entire career as a mink food formulator. HIs wife, Debbie, wanted to honor his retirement with a sculpture of a mink.
The image Debbie had in mind for the sculpture was based on past experience at a northern Minnesota lake. As described in an e-mail, “We were quietly canoeing one morning, following the shoreline about 30 feet out.
Suddenly, we noticed a small family of mink scampering in and out of the rocks that ran off the shore into the lake. The mom was teaching them to hunt.”
Debbie was at first envisioning a wall sculpture with “...a small piece of shoreline with rocks, weeds (maybe cattails or lily pads), sticks (off a downed tree, perhaps), and a mink somewhat hidden within the scene.”
After discussions, and determining that the mink should be the primary focus of the piece, we opted for a 3-D sculpture instead of a wall piece. I pared down the list of elements mentioned above, choosing shoreline and cattails. (Again, simplifying the sculpture to maintain the focus on the mink.)
The asymmetrically cut base plate represents the water’s edge. The mink peering through the cattails implies being in the wild and not wanting to be noticed, such as when stalking a meal. The mink standing on hind legs expresses curiosity.
Having never seen a mink in real life, I compensated for that deficit by watching links to mink videos and making a maquette out of oil-based clay. I sent pictures of my maquette to Debbie who provided helpful feedback: “The ears are too high on the head. Work on the neck....” and such.
Thankfully, the gift recipient says he's "happy as a clam" and thinks the sculpture captures the curiosity and overall nature of the animal. Whew!...
‘Mink in the Wild’ was finished in November 2014 but was kept successfully under wraps for several months until April 2015, as the gift was a surprise.
The mink was created from 1/8” welding rods using my oxy-fuel torch and the tack-and-bend technique. The cattails were forged from 3/4”- and 1/2”-round stock using my Little Giant power hammer. The base is 1/2” plate, torch-cut to shape and slightly textured using the art dies on my power hammer. The finished piece measures 24” tall x 9” wide x 7” deep.
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