Sometimes I am asked to create two cameos from the same photograph. This creates a real dilemma. It is actually impossible for anyone to carve two identical portraits. I am a Portrait artist and each cameo is an individual work of art.

I create my portraits by carving with my hands. My process is to learn all I can about the subject, carefully study their photographs to get my sense of who they are. I then shut out all outside distractions and focus completely on them until I finish their portrait.

The process is very much a creative, right brain activity. I have found that this is the only way to make their portrait come to life.

I can repeat this process to create a second cameo portrait from the same photograph. However it will not be identical to the first cameo if they are viewed side by side. They will be very similar but not identical. I may interpret the subject differently second time around or there may be a difference in the translucency of the white layer of the agate that makes the carving look and feel different.

I once, many years ago, attempted to create two cameos that were to be the same. I then set them up side by side and altered each one to get them to be identical. However, that process is an analytical, left brain activity. The result was that, in my opinion, both portraits seemed to be less life-like. Their spirit drained away.

Now when I approach a request for two matched portraits I treat them as separate. I carve the first cameo, and then set it in the frame when it is completed. I then will start the second cameo, but I will not look at or reference the first cameo at all. This approach has worked very well.

My advice to customers now who want two identical portraits is to either look at having two portrait cameos carved of the same person but using different photos. Or to use a different color or shape for each cameo stone. If the portraits must look the same then I will use the same color, shape and material and provide you with two similar but not identical cameos.