Sculptural Reliefs

At the intersection of sculpture and drawing is the art of relief sculpture, Dedication Plaque for a Homein which a very flat image gives the illusion of depth by following strict rules of perception. The most common reliefs are found as coins, medallions and commemorative or memorial plaques. Reliefs may also be found as architectural accents. Commemorative or memorial reliefs are usually special commissions – the final work may be bronze, “cold-cast” bronze resin, or, for interior use, patinated plaster.


Portrait Reliefs
My bas (low) reliefs honor or memorialize individuals, companion animals, or important events. I work from both life and detailed photographs, and may use words, symbols, or decorative elements as part of the design. The reliefs are modeled in clay and cast in plaster, resin, or bronze. Limited editions are also available, and make moving gifts. (Reliefs may also be reproduced in detail in stone, such as for grave markers.) Note that because dark finishes obscure details in photographs, most pieces are depicted in their original clay or plaster state. However, most are darker, richer, and more subtly varied than can be shown here. Many reliefs do not require a separate frame; others are mounted in either a flat or shadow-box frame, as described in the notes.


Biblical Women
Each of these 7″-square reliefs presents a midrashic (interpretive) portrait of a biblical woman, based on a deep reading of the narratives of the Hebrew Bible, and many years delving into them as an improvisational bibliodramatist. A series of twelve reliefs is planned. Each piece is originally modeled in clay, on which a plaster “waste mold” is made. After application of a mold release, plaster is poured into the mold. When this plaster sets, the waste mold is chipped away. The plaster copy is refined, and a rubber mold is made, which permits multiple identical copies to be cast. Plaster, resin, and bronze editions are available. Each cast plaster relief is finished with a white patina and inserted in a shadow-box frame. Bronze and resin editions hang independently, with no frame required.
Six years ago I began the process of building a lake house designed by architect John Vetter. As a part of the project I wanted a date plaque. I approached Rivkah with the fairly conventional idea of a bronze plaque the included the year of completion and possibly some ferns  worked into the design. She instead suggested a plaque that recognized the contributions of the craftspeople who were instrumental in making this project come to life, the builder, the architect and his theme “A house for a collector.” As a part of the process, she worked with the architect and head mason to craft a beautiful design that exceeded my expectations and was technically perfect for the mason to install in the brick exterior of the house. The bronze plaque is a beautiful composition that uses highly detailed symbols of the trades. Rivkah took a fairly simple idea and elevated it to the level of an exceptional piece of relief sculpture.
Paul Woelbing

President, Carma Laboratories