William van Orden

Over the course of the last decade, British Columbia based sculptor and painter William van Orden has developed a technique for making extremely accurate replicas of the marine life found along the coastline of the Pacific Northwest. 

“I take molds from real fish specimens and then cast replicas. The process picks up every scale, wrinkle and pore. These casts are then accurately painted using a large collection of photos and notes.  To obtain the specimens I have had a policy whereby whoever brings me a specimen that I can use, they will get the first copy.   And so, over the years, commercial fishermen, sports fishermen, beachcombers and biologists have brought me an astonishing collection of critters. There are interesting things in my freezers.”

Van Orden has made replicas of over 150 different species ranging from a tiny grunt sculpin to a 150 centimeter wolf eel.  In addition to a collection of strange deepwater fish, he recently cast a 55-pound shortraker rockfish, one of the largest rockfish ever caught on the west coast. Oxeye oreos, anglerfish, eelpouts and hagfish line the walls of his shop in Heriot Bay.