Saturday, January 19, 2008

Clinky news at long last!

I have to say I really admire Tom for sticking to this project. Three years ago he licensed my Deputed Duke sculpture to be produced in china. The company he chose was notorious even then for being slow but then the master finishing artist (glazer? truly not sure of his title), died very shortly after completing the first 3 prototype colors. It was incredibly tragic and upsetting news to all of course.

I have to admit that I was fully willing to cut my losses - from my end these would be the 3 Dukes given to Tom for finishing to be used as references for the glazes, and 2 to the china company for the making of the mold (50 peices! I cannot imagine!), and a week of time invested to make sure that the one to be actually cut up and cast was as smooth & detailed as humanly possible. Now that Dukes are harder to obtain sure that sounds like a lot of money, but in all honesty - when people die and businesses crash you just have to move on. It's very upsetting and being stingy about monetary losses is bad for ones karma imo. I was deeply saddened while at the same time honored that master finisher Anthony was proud of the 3 (seen here) he did create shortly before his passing. I've seen them in person at a Breyerfest and it touched me to know this. Some things are just priceless to know and I'm simply honored.

Anyhow today I am so glad I entrusted such faith in Tom to eventually make sure it was worth my while - he's quite an honest business person to work with!
[from his yahoogroup:]
Hello everyone! I am so excited to share these quick photos with you. We *finally* have the first production bone china Deputed Duke (sculpted by uber talented Morgen Kilbourn) finished and photo'd below. Donna Chaney rules the house today, with this masterful creation she has provided me with.

This project started several years ago with Mark Farmer/Alchemy. The first three prototypes came along very quickly (photo'd here: ) and then we seemed to hit a brick wall. Mark told me repeatedly that he was producing some horses for the patient customers and yet I never got any product. Well, as most of you know -- last year Mark bailed ship and sold his business to my delightful friend Donna Chaney. Although I was out some significant money invested with no product, I was hopeful that perhaps I could finally get some bone china Dukes produced thru Donna.

Mark always said that Duke was the most challenging piece he ever created - and that turns out to be true according to Donna. At first Donna could not promise me that she could produce him due to his complicated position (performing a half-pass) and his delicate connection to his base. So Donna and I made some creative alterations and he has came to life. It has been a difficult road, to say the least, Donna suffered several failures before this first success. It was all very disappointing as the amount of time invested in each of those pieces were significant and a complete loss when they went wrong. Donna, being the true "pit-bull" she can be was determined to have success, and she finally succeeded.

We decided to produce him so that he can be displayed off the base or on the base, depending on what the owner likes. So he is now produced so he stands freely without the base, thanks to a sturdy acrylic rod that is discreetly inserted in his right hind hoof. When displayed on the base, two hooves fit snugly down into the base and the peg rests within the base for stability. What is so genius about this, other than the option of being baseless or not, is that it will make shipping him so much easier and secure. Before, (the prototypes) were permanently attached to the base --- that was a very small connection area and the weight of the base and the weight of the horse frequently snapped off at the small connection points. So, now we have versatility and stability ... thanks to Donna's ingenuity.

This first piece was also decorated by Animal Artistry main decorator Lorraine, who did a stunning job getting his colors rich, vibrant and "spot on". Doesn't he look stunning in this satin finish? There are several more Dukes molded and getting ready for decoration as we speak. This is a labor intensive job and takes literally weeks of multiple firings to get this finished result. Production will be slow but steady, thanks to the Animal Artistry crew!

What does this mean? Well, it means that those few people who made the initial purchase of Duke and waited out the lengthy process will be rewarded with a lovely heirloom piece of art work. Many of those who bought Duke when I first offered him eventually lost confidence or interest and asked for a refund, which I could not blame them ... goodness sakes, three years is a long time. But a few had confidence in the sculpture (Morgen did such an incredible piece!) and that it was just slow going. Those few will be rewarded on their investment. They will be taken care of first, as they should be. When all orders are filled and the buyers happy, he will be offered for sale only when completed and ready to ship. However, his price will see a slight increase due to the time involved in producing him, the strength of the British pound against the American dollar now, the increase in all postal fees - both international and domestic, plus several other factors. I will still really strive to keep him as affordable as possible, but producing work on this scale in not something that can be done in the Orient for pennies on the dollar folks.

I got into this project as I am a true china head by nature, it is my first love. I wanted to make a product that would excite fellow collectors and make future generations awe at it's quality. We have succeeded ... Morgen, Donna, Lorraine and myself. This is not a money maker for any of us, it is a true labor of love. As this piece gets into collectors hands and exhibited, I am confident he will become legendary in his status. It will make all the blood, sweat, tears, frustration, anxiety and so much more all worth while. Special thanks to Morgen for her incredible sculpting abilities, Donna Chaney for being a great friend first and for making this dream come true secondly and Lorraine for her lovely finishing skills.

So I am very proud and happy to finally provide my customers with the first production piece. I welcome your feedback as always. Have a great weekend! tom

And the photos of the first one off the press completed!

Big kudos to Tom of course, but also to Donna for her tenacity to take on that crazy mold, and to Lorraine for taking on recreating Tom's incredible colors.

I really love this fellow - what a rich look that finish has.

Anyhow, this isn't something I'm dealing with directly. However how excited am I to see it coming to fruition after all these years! :D

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