"I sculpt to bring more smiles into the world."

Sculptor Melissa J Gondek with Grendel the art studio cat

I'm Melissa J. Gondek, owner and founder of Small Company Artworks in sunny Los Angeles. I create singular expressions of love to celebrate those we cherish in limited-edition figurative sculpture. My original artwork now keeps people company in more than eleven countries across four continents, although Antarctica continues to elude me.

I design and personally create every piece in my collection, from expressive hugs to whimsical cats and dogs. Each sculpture comes from my own hands, in my one-woman (and two-cat) studio, so I can attend to every detail. I want each collector of my art to feel delighted and excited to receive their package of love from my studio.

(Have you read my interview in the UncommonGoods blog? Find out more about my inspiration, my process, and what I look like covered in dust.)

Frequently-asked questions

Why are your sculptures created as limited editions?

When I create an original sculpture, I take great care with small details to achieve the perfect expression in the master sculpture. This master sculpture then becomes the source of the mold I use for casting in stone. But the master sculpture is invariably destroyed in demolding, so the resulting mold retains the only true copy.

Because molds lose detail with each casting, I can only create a limited number of each design while still maintaining the quality of the original. Once tiny variations begin to appear in the castings, the mold can only be discarded and no more copies can be made.

Because of their small size and reduced detail, the love token molds are much more forgiving. This allows me to create open editions of these tiny sculptures, although there is an upper limit on these molds, as well. 

I have created an open-edition series of sculpture in collaboration with UncommonGoods that is exclusive to their site and catalog. These sculptures were developed expressly to offer loving attention to detail without edition limits on each design.

Why use cast stone for your sculpture?

I believe sculpture should be as enchanting to the touch as it is to the eye, and for that, nothing compares to cast stone. The stone feels surprisingly cool when handled, and then warms gently in response to contact. The surface invites you to touch it, feel the contours, and enjoy the velvety texture. Each piece also has a delicious weight and density, with a substantial feel that belies its diminutive size.

Cast stone also reproduces small details with great faithfulness, so my sculptures can include more intricate elements, like the tiny ears of pets or the delicate feet of children. And of course the strength of cast stone ensures that each sculpture will endure for many years.

Artist Melissa J Gondek at work in her art studio

How long does it take to create each piece?

I sculpt each master design over the course of days or weeks, until I feel satisfied that it expresses the mood and message of celebrating love. Sometimes I'll change a sculpture dozens of time to capture exactly the right breath of time: the position of a hand, the tilt of a head, or how two figures lean together. On rare occasions the sculpture comes together almost magically, and everything "clicks" all at once - but usually sculpting is more like a rich conversation with the clay, with ample back and forth. Yes, "rich conversation" sometimes includes a teensy bit of cursing.

Do you accept commissions for custom or one-of-a-kind sculpture?

I do create custom, one-of-a-kind sculpture on a limited basis. I've designed special anniversary gifts, pet memorials, wedding presents, and unique cake toppers, and every piece has been meaningful and special to develop. Because the process requires several weeks and close collaboration to articulate just the right message, I can accept only a few one-of-a-kind commissions each year. Contact me to inquire about my current schedule for one-of-a-kind sculpture.

Fast Facts

  • Enjoys trying to foxtrot and railing against historically inaccurate fiction, although rarely at the same time

  • Gets entirely too sentimental about weddings, TV shows about lost pets, and the wild bunnies living in her backyard

  • Refuses to get worked up when the Capitals lose the Stanley Cup playoffs again. Again.

  • Sometimes driven to fits of hiking, but more often found contemplating the middle distance in company of my incredibly patient husband

  • Passionately committed to discovering exquisite red velvet cupcakes in Southern California, even though my habit of not exercising has introduced certain inconvenient facts about this pursuit