Tuesday, February 17, 2009

End of an Era

When I started Pour Horse, I had no idea where it would lead. That was, what, fourteen years ago? Fourteen years. So many ups and downs, so many triumphs and tragedies. Learning processes, changing technologies, and just plain nose-to-the-grindstone working. Day in and day out, clay on my clothes, plaster all over the counter. Greenware piled on shelves, cushioned with random torn off pieces of foam rubber. The smell of the kiln, hot metal and brick, click and buzz as it heats, snapping as it cools. From making my own clay slip, to making the molds, to casting, cleaning, painting, glazing and shipping... all of it, here, has been woven into my life tapestry and become part of my identity.

So, having announced the end of Original Finish production runs when Otto is finished, it is with mixed feelings that I look toward the future. For the first time in fourteen years, I'm finishing a run and not already working on another one. No mailing to go out, no updating of the name list, no molds to frantically make, no production photo to take out on the cliff. I've done over *three thousand* horses in those fourteen years, most of them Original Finish limited production pieces. Otto was by far the hardest, being the most detailed and complicated of the sculptures. Otto is cast in four molds and his head and forelegs are attached during the cleaning process. His paint job is also quite complex, and the color has varied greatly over the time span of his production. It took three years to finish Otto. But I did it, by golly. I did it. To have a visual representation of what kind of work that entails, Lesli Kathman kindly helped my by doing this graphic:
(click on it for a bigger photo)

Now remember that for every fifteen or so of these, I had to make a new set of molds, which took one or two days to do. And this doesn't represent the broken ones, the bisques, the goofs, or the customs. This is only the OF pieces. It's rather startling, isn't it? But somehow, I still feel a little sad at the thought that I won't be doing another run. Like my family says, "it's like hitting yourself on the head with a hammer, because it feels so good when you stop". I need to put the hammer down now.

There are so many fantastic horses still to make, sculptures to bring to life, and fun projects to do. My studio is full of customs and new ideas. The airbrush is beckoning, to try out new ways of painting, new ways of dappling, roaning, or glazing. With the moldmaking techniques that we can now bring to bear on new sculptures, we can make almost any horse. We are limited only by our dreams. My dream was Pour Horse, and I am grateful for everyone who has been a customer and a friend. We've seen a lot of changes together, haven't we? And now we go into a new phase, where more possibilities open up for going down artistic pathways and exploring new trends and ideas.


mel said...

I treasure all my horses from the factory and always will. That I was able to participate in the process (with my checkbook!) is important to me, because women "making it" in business is something I care about; that you did this with an ART business is simply astonishing! When I first came into the hobby, a woman who sold me a Breyer said she was getting out of plastics to concentrate on collecting Pour Horses; I had no idea what she meant. But I found out. I wasn't expecting love at first sight, much less the friendship you and I share. My biggest thrill as this change grips you (aside from the preservation of your back and eyes!) is watching the marvel of your artistic growth continue to unfold, quite literally in my hands and the hands of all your current and future customers. Just when I believe you can't possibly become a better artist, or engineer, you blow me away with Stormwatch and Brownie! I am a-quiver with the idea of what is to come, and delighted to continue the journey alongside. You are an unsung national treasure.

Adalee said...

I can't match Mel's eloquence, so I'm simply going to say, YOU ROCK, Joanie! Many Congratulations!

I can see into the future... and it is shiny! :)

Cynthia said...

What you accomplished is simply astounding! But then I've always known you'd succeed beyond your wildest expectations!

Now the old era has ended... enjoy the new!

Maggie Barkovitz said...

Hey Joanie - congrats on reaching the light at the end of the tunnel! Now go dance in that sun shiny warm creative goodness :)!


Maggie Barkovitz said...

Hey Joanie - congrats on reaching the light at the end of the tunnel! Now go dance in that sun shiny warm creative goodness :)!


Lynn A. Fraley said...

I raise my glass in a heartfelt toast to Joanie.

Here's to:

She who inspired a whole generation of artisans and sculptors

She who regards information as not goods to be horded, but as a map to a path shared with fellow travelers

She who does not suffer fools, but who enlightens those who care to ask

Here's to she who is True.

Congratulations and many blessings my friend,

FireHorse Designs of Texas said...

I remember the first Pour Horse piece I ever saw. It was the Red Okie Clay at the first show I ever attended, the Wilson Show in PA. I can't begin to put into words the emotions I felt, seeing that piece. Having raised appaloosa foals and having been a firing artist in the past, I was overwhelmed with the desire for such a piece and thinking that it had to be one of a kind and I would never possibly own one. Then I was invited to judge at MAR in MD and again, my eyes were opened to the possiblities when I saw the OF china Suspiro. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now I not only have several Pour Horse OF chinas (Red Okie Clay and Suspiro) but also a lovely collection of your custom glazes and bisques!

Lastly, thank you not only for your creations but for your willingness to be a mentor. I have learned so much from you, as I begin my journey as a fired artist of realistic equine sculptures.

Thank you Joanie!