Anna catches up with Emma at the Gryffe Casting Studio: it’s emotional.
I meet up with Emma, owner and creator at The Gryffe Casting Studio in Bridge of Weir. In her garden studio Emma is working on a torso piece. She explains to me how these individual pieces of art are put together, and it is immediately clear that this is not just business for Emma, but most definitely a passion.
We sit down with a cuppa and, as I look around the kitchen, there are hands, feet and bodies everywhere. I mean everywhere. Open a kitchen cupboard and it’s not the tin cupboard as you might expect, instead its fingers and toes you see. Actually it’s lovely and not weird at all, which, if I’m being entirely honest, I thought it would be. And remarkably Emma knows whose hands and feet are whose, and the ages of the tiny (and older) people to whom they belong. And so we get to talking about Emma, The Gryffe Casting Studio, and how she now finds herself creating bespoke sculptures and interior design pieces as reminders of precious moments that have been captured beautifully in time.
“I first became aware of the art of creating 3D snapshots of our form following my Mums’ breast cancer diagnosis 10 years ago; thank goodness Mum is still with us. Mum’s course of treatment was a mastectomy. We talked about how she would like to have a personal memento of her body the way it was before the intrusion of the illness, and tried to create something using plaster bandages from ideas on YouTube; crude but fitting at the time. There was a lot of laughter and, after many attempts, we did it.”
This endeavour to capture a moment in time and the powerful emotions it evoked stayed with Emma, and it is here she began her journey in life and body casting. She has trained extensively with a world-renowned Life Casting studio and consequently Gryffe Casting is now one of the very few studios in the UK that offers ‘body casting’ – which means as well as hands and feet, Emma also casts body areas such as torsos, arms and legs.
It’s the metamorphosis of the human form Emma finds so intriguing. Lately she has been creating pieces for the fitness industry, sculptures which demonstrate the changes that happen to a body with pure exercise and sheer hard work. These can be seen in selected gyms.
The beauty of this sculptural technique, I guess, is that almost anything can be cast – whatever floats your boat really. One of Emma’s specialities is using casting to express special bonds, relationships, family ties…something literally to hold on to and cherish for generations – couples holding hands, a family holding on to each other forever, a mummy holding on protectively to her baby’s tiny hand, an older couple, their lives together etched in every detail of their beautifully aged skin, every line telling its own story, holding hands exactly the way they have done for years and years.
The Gryffe Casting Studio is able to capture part of something which would otherwise be lost forever, whether that be through a life beginning, growing and changing, or a life coming to an end. Emma tells me that she has been commissioned to create memorial pieces with terminal cancer patients, pieces which have given immense comfort to the ones left behind; it’s really very emotional to hear this. What an incredibly intimate and comforting thing to be able to bestow on those suffering loss.
On the other side of this, at the core of Gryffe Casting Studio, is capturing tiny little hands and feet – ‘they are only little for a little while’, is Emma’s motto. And it’s so true – we forget all too soon how quickly our children grow, and how fragile life is. It’s such a precious thing that Gryffe Casting Studio does; timeless, thoughtful, utterly personal, and with so much meaning. Emma should be super proud.