Strolling along Yorktown Riverwalk Landing, it is easy to spot two nearly life-sized metal statues of George Washington and Adm. Francois Joseph Paul comte de Grasse, seemingly having a conversation.
Those two historic figures will soon be accompanied by the Marquis de Lafayette. The artist who created them and other statues in the area—including a piece named Written in the Pages at the James City County Library on Croaker Road—is Williamsburg resident Cyd Player.
Using different forms of mild steel, Player uses oxy/acetylene welding which melts the metal at extremely high temperatures.
Prior to firing up her tools, she studies pictures of the person she will soon create. This includes having large photos of historic interpreters who portray them in Williamsburg on the walls of her warehouse studio.
Once Player starts working with the metal, she first creates a stick figure. She then custom cuts metal sheet with a plasma cutter to weld them onto the figure to finish it.
After her welding is complete, Player personally transports the piece in a horse trailer to be sand blasted in Chesapeake. From there it goes to Ashland, N.C., to receive a galvanized coating.
While working on a piece, Player allows just one person to critique it in process – her husband of 37 years, Michael Player.
"He is my best critic," she said.
"For instance, right now I am having trouble with Lafayette's neck. He has a long neck and I just can't get it to where I like it. I will let Michael take a look at it and talk with him about it," she said pointing to her unfinished work.
After the work is completed, she will present it to the Friends of Lafayette who commissioned her to create it for public display. Player said this work is funded strictly by donations.
"Usually, corporations commission me," she said.
It will be placed at Riverwalk Landing on Oct. 18.
"Lafayette is important to the two already at Riverwalk Landing because he served as translator between Washington and de Grasse," she said.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Player got into the art medium somewhat by accident at an art school in Mexico. She had planned to study Illustration.
"Come to find out I am woefully inadequate at it," Player admitted.
"So, I decided to take every class they offered and found one I really liked," she said.
After several years of perfecting her metal sculpture art skills, she was hired in 1978 to create the 12 disciples at Christian Broadcasting Network in Chesapeake. That is when she met her husband, Michael Player.
"I met him over Peter's toe," she said smiling. The pair have two grown children.
In addition, she created The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse for CBN.
Player has no plans to retire, instead she will continue to don her welding mask and mold her next creation.