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Medallions, Memorials and Memories

I am asked to create memorials, and plaques and medallions all the time and I like doing this type of work mainly because what I am really doing is making memories.  In the picture to the right I am working on adding lilies a cat and humming birds to a Cypress Wood Cross that a client wanted for their memorial in Glenwood Cemetary, Houston, Texas.  The client asked initially for just a wooden cross made out of bronze.

I always take the time to talk to my clients about their projects and motivation for creating them.  I consider this one of the most important parts of my job because it is usually in this session that I find out about my clients desires and hopes for this unique creation. I want this to be more then special, I want this to have personal meaning for the people it is being created for and to be a timeless work of art.

So after our meeting I went back to my studio, and while creating a 6 foot Cypress Tree,  I thought about what we had talked about at our meeting. During the first viewing of the clay original in my studio I presented them with some ideas that I had.  While the Cypress Tree Cross was nice I wanted to make it more personal so knowing that my client loved lilies I added some hand tooled lilies and then I added three hummingbirds to add some movement and interest to the wreath of lilies.  They really loved the idea and then my client asked if I could add her cat, who just passed away, at the bottom of the cross looking up at the humming birds.  Of course I could! She would never have come up with this wonderful addition if we had not spent that time in my studio in the creative process, co-creating an original and personal work of art.


I do this with all my clients and that is why I called this post Medallions, Memorials and “Memories”  . This picture to the right is a memorial to “Jacob”, he spent his young life confined to a wheel chair and after he was gone his family wanted a memorial to honor his memory.  I did several sketches for them before I came up with this idea of Jacob being freed to leave the confines of his wheel chair and reach towards heaven with a smile and praise.  This Memorial is meant to commemorate a young man, who despite great hardship and adversity, was never the less a joy and inspiration to everyone who met him and especially to the family that dearly loved him and I wanted to show that indomitable spirit.


This is another memorial plaque that was commissioned to honor our soldiers who fall in battle.  ” All Give Some, Some Give All”  there is no truer statement then that and the Battle Cross on the battle field is the symbol of that great sacrifice.  I was honored and humbled to create this large plaque.

I do several memorials and plaques each year, and each one is special. If you are interested in finding out a project that is near and dear to your heart give me a call. I promise that we will co-create something very special.


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Sculpture Workshop



Working from life, the Positive Approach to
Sculpting  with artist Lori Betz

Have you ever had a desire to sculpt?  A project that you really want to make but don’t know how to go about it?  This workshop is the perfect opportunity to learn and also to ask about how to create what you are looking for

The workshop will concentrate on methods of clay
modeling working from a live model in water based clay.
We will study the  anatomy and proportions of the human
figure, with the emphasis on developing form and beautiful
composition. The workshop will provide an in-depth
exploration of the human figure  while working from
the same model each day. Each person will receive
individual attention, including demonstrations on
anatomy and technique.  If you have a specific project that                       you would like to discuss there will be time for that also.

This is a three week course on Saturday and Sunday from
10:30-3pm with a lunch break. The cost will be  $350 not including some supplies. There will be all levels in the class so don’t worry if you are a beginner. I plan to start the class the second week in May, the 13th and do two weekends and then skip a week for memorial weekend and then finish up the first weekend in June, anyone who wants to work straight through memorial weekend can do so. I will have everything that you need for supplies.  If you’re interested let me know because last year this workshop filled up the first week and pass on this info to anyone you think might be interested.   Thanks and I hope that you can join us we have a lot of fun and you will learn a lot.

For workshop dates contact Lori Betz at 713-576-6954

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I will be offering several sculpture workshops in collaboration with the Woodlands Art League. Working from life, the positive approach to sculpting with artist, Lori Betz. The workshop will concentrate on methods of clay modeling, working from a live model. We will study the anatomy and proportions of the human figure, with the emphasis on developing positive form and beautiful composition. The work shop will provide and in-depth exploration of the human form through modeling in water-based clay. Participants will model a figure working from the same model each day. Each person will receive individual attention, including demonstrations on anatomy and technique.

This is a three weekend course on saturday and sunday from 10:30-3pm with a break for lunch.

Contact Lori Betz at 713-576-6954   for upcoming class dates and prices.

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Bronze Medallion for DART

I am currently working on a large medallion that I will be casting in bronze at the Betz Art Foundry.  We have done several large medallions over the years and the first thing I do after I conference with my clients and find out what they want included in the design is I draw up a sketch and submit this for approval. After any design changes are discussed and made to the design I then do a mock up in clay, which you see me starting to do in this photo.

Once the mock up in clay is done the client and I will meet and go over any changes or additions to the design because sometimes things don’t always look the same when they are in the 3 dimensional format as they did in the 2 dimensional sketch.

After the clay mock up is approved and everyone is happy with the design I will begin to make a mold out of silicone and plaster.  This is done in many sections because when we go do cast the wax in bronze we are limited in size.  There are several reasons for this but the most important it that as the metal cools it can warp and shrink and you get less of this in smaller sections.

So first I make a mold and then from that mold I create a wax copy that we invest in a ceramic slurry . Once the ceramic coating is dry we will put this into a kiln and melt the wax out which also hardens the ceramic shell.  Into this shell we can pour the molten bronze.  We then break away the shell and weld the pieces together as you can see here in this photograph.  I am welding together a lilly onto a cross that will be sent to Glenwood Cemetary for a family memorial.




We then polish out all the weld marks and add a patina and the finished sculpture is ready for installation

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“ Why hire a classically trained artist instead of computer generated art?”



When I was studying to become an artist there was only one way to do it and it was to under study with a master after university. So after learning classical techniques on the university level I then took off to find out what a university can not teach you, which is true creativity. While studying abroad I was inspired and awed by the dedication and perseverance involved in creating a true work of art. After all it took 4 four years for Michael Angelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling while laying on his back suspended above the floor. That is commitment. I have spent my whole life as a classically trained artist creating paintings, and in particular, sculptures, by hand. Each new project is always a challenge and an adventure but with the advent of the computer age there is an emerging group of digital artists that skip the traditional studio phase and create their art work on the computer instead. To digitally create a sculpture you have to be adept at computer generating 3D images from either photographs or images and avatars off the computer. The programs image is then milled out in foam and the artist then smears on clay over the foam and delivers it to the foundry and the foundry then makes a mold and pours a bronze sculpture from the original computer generate foam replica. Also, a 3D printed model can be made which doesn’t even require a mold or any clay addition and can be cast directly into bronze. So the artist does not have to know anything about classical proportions or be able to create a hand drawn sketch. Everything is perfectly done by the computer.


Creating art with the use of digital applications and computer software has been around now for a while and is used by many artists today but when it comes to acceptance of fine-art there are many artists and art advocates that disapprove of its usage as it comes down to true creative talent. The problem is that most artists that use the computer to create their sculptures do not disclose the use of the computer in their process thus leading the consumer to assume that they made the sculpture or painting the traditional way. I have met artist that have never taken an art degree but instead studied computer programming.


So why would you choose to hire an artist that creates his works of art the classical way by hand as opposed to on the computer? One reason I have noticed is that, especially when it comes to portraits or figurative works, the subject that is computer generated can often times look stiff or lifeless when computer generated. Part of the job of the artist is to bring forth the personality of the subject. A good sculptor will often try to find that certain je ne sais qua that defines a persons personality and bring that to life. A computer can not do this. The problem is that most artists that use the computer as the major component in creating their art work do not openly disclose this to the public.


When looking for an artist to hire you should find an artist with a solid foundation who is trained in classical techniques so that they understand the fundamental requirements for spacial expression and developing compositions. I have seen clients looking at a finished sculpture and wondering what was “ wrong” with it but not being able to put their finger on it. Often this can be found in the expression which is mannequin like and stiff when designed by a computer. The artist did not have the training to understand where the computer went wrong. There are many artists today using the computer in one way or the other in their art work and it is always a good idea if you are looking to hire an artist to ask them what part the computer process takes in the creation of their art work so that if you do hit a snag along the way you can be assured that they have the training necessary to correct it.  


One last thought I would like to add and that is about our idea of “perfection”. The computer is great at reproducing something perfectly from a photograph but what I find most appealing about an original work of art is often not how perfectly it matches the photo but about how it is artistically interprated by the artist. The true job of the artist is to help us to see life in a new way.   As Edgar Degas said “ Art is not what you see but what you make others see”.



This photo is a memorial of “Jacob” I created for his family. Jacob lived his life in a wheel chair and I never met him but his family told me that he was a joy and inspiration to everyone who knew him. My goal was to capture his wonderful spirit and commemorate his short life.


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“What questions you should ask before you hire an artist”

“What questions you should ask before you hire an artist”


There are several things you should consider before hiring an artist . I am a painter and a sculptor and so I am going to be talking specifically about those disciplines and mediums however most of the advice I am giving can be applied to all types of art.


I feel that the most important thing to remember is to have a clear idea of the project you want to have created with out limiting the artistic scope of the work to the point that the artist does not have any artistic freedom. After all , you are hiring a person who is knowledgeable in their chosen profession and part of what you are paying for is their expertise and advice, so give them a range with which to work from with out too many artistic restrictions.


Having said that the artist that you want to consider should have a portfolio of work that they can present to you that represents the style of artistic expression that they are known for. The artist should be able to supply you with several good references from past projects. If their artistic style is one that you appreciate then you can move forward. I always give my clients a list of the most recent major works that I have completed along with reference names and contact information, and the location of the installed sculpture so that they can go by and see my work.


You will want to give the artist an idea of the scope of the project. I often work with architects as well as individuals and the first thing I want to know is size, site and subject. Once I have that information I can give a client a “ball park” idea of costs involved and make sure that we are on the same page as far as their budget goes. I can often tailor materials and execution to suit the clients’ budget and most professional artists should be able to do the same.


Once the artist has gotten an idea of what you are looking for they should be able at this point to create a sketch for you so that you can critique the design. If this is going to be shown to a committee then a maquette ( small scaled sculpture) is also a good idea to ask the artist to make for you, since two dimensional sketches do not accurately represent how a three dimensional work of art will look.


The Maquette can be useful in several ways. . It is at this phase that you want to make any design changes because it is much harder, expensive and time consuming to make changes to the large scale sculpture later. It is also useful in making demonstrations to board committees. Also, I have found that it can make it easier for a client who is still in the fund raising phase to demonstrate what they are trying to accomplish. I have done several large public sculptural installations where having the maquette on display during the entire process was a great way to get the public excited and involved. The maquette can also be cast in bronze and copies sold or given to large donors as gifts. I donated a small copy of the seven foot “Battle Cross”, that I created for the Veterans Memorial Park in Tampa, Florida and it was auctioned off and raised four thousand dollars that went to benefit the Wounded Warriors Program.


After approval of the initial design the artist should be able to give you a time line and firm budget. These terms should be submitted in writing and on the artists’ letter head. The time line is a guide line that can sometimes be subjected to change depending on the clients availability for appointments and also if there is more then one decision maker involved, for instance a board or public committee.


The artist should make arrangements for the decision makers to meet at the artists ‘studio several times during the production phase for approval. I usually meet with the client once the wax clay “original” is ready for showing. At this point the client can minor design changes. If some changes are requested then I will meet with the client once again after the changes have been made for approval. After this the foundry will take the clay original and make a mold in silicon and plaster and from this the bronze will be cast. In my case I am not only the artist but also the foundry owner so everything is done “in house” which means that I have control of all phases of production which I find is very important because I can guarantee a higher level of quality and generally at a lower cost to the client since there is no “middle man.” I don’t meet with the client again until the sculpture is cast into bronze and before the patina is applied. I do however stay in touch with the client and keep them up to date at each stage of the foundry process so that they are aware of how the project is coming along.


Payment to the artist is usually made in several stages. I require a deposit upfront to cover my time while making the clay original. Before the sculpture goes to the foundry another deposit is collected to cover the cost of the bronze casting. A last payment is required when the sculpture is picked up or installed on site. This is listed and spelled out in the original agreement and regular invoices are sent to the client at each phase. Make sure that any artist you hire provides all this information in writing before the project begins to prevent any misunderstandings.


I hope this gives you an idea of how to go about finding the right artist for your project.   I find that every project is different and unique so if you have any questions and would like some answers feel free to email me at

lori art fest sculpting

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Lori to Participate in Holiday Art Market

Betz Art Foundry and artist Lori Betz will be showcasing her newest sculptures and all work will be on sale for the Holidays !!!!

On Saturday, December 13, and Sunday, December 14, The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park will host the 52nd Annual Candlelight Tour, a wonderful holiday tradition. This year we celebrate “firsts” such as the Staiti, Nichols, and Yates families’ first holiday celebrations in their homes. New to Candlelight Tour this year are the Art Market in Connally Plaza, and Paper in Pieces, Larger Than Life: The Art of Avril Falgout, a collection of sculpted paper mache figures on view in Pillot House. The market, presented by Bayou City Art Festival, will feature a variety of works by regional artists, all available for sale. The Pillot House exhibit will feature the expressive and unique work of Avril Falgout, co-winner of the Lawndale Art Center’s 2012 Big Show. This year’s Candlelight Tour will have decorated buildings, historic characters relating stories of the past, carolers, Houston Boychoir in St. John Church, Santa Claus and his Workshop, family musical and magical entertainment and holiday fare at the Candlelight Café.

Saturday, December 13, 2014
at 4:00 PM – Sunday, December
14, 2014 at 10:00 PM (CST)

Connally Plaza at the Heritage
1100 Bagby St
Houston, TX 77002


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Allen Brother Maquettes to be Unveiled

The Allen Brother Maquettes are about to be unveiled in a special ceremony on the Saturday.

Read about it in the Chronicle

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Houston Matters – Radio Interview

Lynna Kay Shuffield was interviewed as part of the Houston Matters on NPR.

Its a great interview about the Allen Brothers Statues and how they were intended to be part of City Hall.

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Lori Betz Chosen For Two Houston City Hall Sculptures

Lori Betz has been chosen create two life-sized sculptures of Augustus Chapman Allenand John Kirby Allen, the co-founders of Houston, that will be placed on the east side of entrance of City Hall.


John Finger, the architect who designed City Hall to honor these to visionaries who in 1836, built a city on the muddy banks of Buffalo Bayou and called it Houston. Finger along with then Houston Mayor, Oscar Holcombe came up with the idea in 1939 and until now remained incomplete.


According to a 1939 news article in the Houston Press, Holcombe announced that because of funding problems the sculptures would have to be scrapped but a space was reserved for each Founder.


In January 2014, Lynna Kay Shuffield proposed  to Texas Star Chapter, DRT, that it correct this and start the correct this oversight. Seventy-five years later, the process to raise the funds and complete the project has begun.


Betz has a rich career that spans over 25 years and was the logical choice to complete such an these two important sculptures that will add to the historical fabric of Houston. “This is a true honor to be selected to complete these sculptures that not only honor two great men, but will also mean so much to Houston as a city,” said artist Lori Betz.


The project has been endorsed by the families of AC Allen and JK Allen.  The Texas Start Chapter presently has three members of the Allen Family as well as one honorary member and one deceased member of the family.


Any foundations or corporations that wants to set up a grant to assist with this truly historical project may contact the Texas Start Chapter, an IRS 501(c)(3).

Donation Information:
Texas Star DRT
c/0 Betty Wright
10023 Storm Meadow
Houston, Tx 77064



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