With so many old established China factories having disappeared entirely, or allowing for the few remaining ones having the china actually made in other countries “Animal Artistry Alchemy” is one of only a few companies in the Kingdom where every process is completed here “in house”.
Every member of the original Alchemy Ceramics staff has been involved with ceramics throughout their working lives. Training and working at well established firms such as Royal Worcester, Albany Fine China and Hereford Fine China………..sadly all of which are no longer trading. Despite this somewhat gloomy trend in the Ceramics industry I am determined to uphold the skills of traditional English Craftsmanship and aspire to achieve new heights of Artistry.
We may be struggling against the tide in the current business trend of making everything quicker and cheaper, and usually out of the UK, but l hope that eventually the tide will turn, and that the surviving businesses which have always esteemed quality and craftsmanship above quick profit will be proof that there are people who do appreciate work made by skilled artisans striving for perfection here in Herefordshire.
I think the fairest way to introduce the Animal Artistry Alchemy Team is to do it alphabetically using their first names, this does not reflect in any way on the importance of that person to the business : )
- Charles is my Partner and the “Handy Man” of the establishment. All running repairs are carried out by him, be it vehicles, equipment or structural work on our crumbling edifices. He is also my sounding board for ideas, and my constant support when I encounter difficulties. There have been plenty of those in the last two years since I took on Alchemy! Charles is also my resin caster and fettler in his spare time.
- Johanna has been my friend for many years, and she used to paint brooch’s for me back in the 1980’s. She has recently moved to Herefordshire and now works full time as the resin and earthenware china painter. The transition from painting resin to under glazing earthenware has been very traumatic at times, and still is occasionally. Joanna has proved very resourceful and is now dedicated to perfecting her technique. Recently Johanna has had to add painting RubberNedz to her list of accomplishments 🙂 l doubt Animal Artistry could survive without her undoubted talent!
- Lorraine is our full time Bone china artist, and she has had a long and illustrious career working for Royal Worcester, Albany Fine China and Ashmore China. Lorraine is the perfect member of the team, she never complains and always can be relied on to turn up for work. Even when she has to leave her car a mile down the road, and walk in as the snow is too deep to drive through.
- Mark (Mouldy) is probably the best Ceramic mould maker left in the UK. He makes all of the moulds for Alchemy, Horsing Around, Karen Gerhardt, and various other companies and free lance Ceramic Artists. He is also my “right hand man”, and as well as making the moulds he also casts all of the china horses, and he does all of the glazing too. ln many instances he has been my adviser, and when things to not go to plan he is my commiserater too. He served an apprenticeship at Royal Worcester, run his own Ceramic company and has worked in the Ceramic industry for his whole working life. Much of the smooth running of Alchemy relies on Mark, and long may it continue.
- Rob has always worked in the Ceramic industry, like his father before him. Rob specializes in assembling the horses and ponies, but he is skillful in other ceramic tasks as well. Previously he has worked for Albany Fine China and Hereford Fine china, actually travelling to New Zealand to help teach his skills to an new ceramic company established on the other side of the world.
- Ellen is my lovely Daughter, who sadly is not passionate about china horses. (well, she may change her mind). She does the first preparation of the slip for me, chopping the pugged clay into small chunks and soaking it in water. She has also trimmed wet clay horses ready for assembling. Ellen is also a fully trained resin caster : )
- Donna, well, I am the odd job person in many ways. I am responsible for the sculpting of the original artworks, I make the silicone rubber moulds, I prepare all of the resins for painting and I varnish them all too. I make the china slip, I go over all of the greenware preparing it for the kiln. I prop all the bone china and I load and unload the kilns. Once the china has been fired l do all of the fettling at present, and after all the glazing and decorating has been finished I add the Alchemy Ceramics decals and edition numbers.
As well as these practical tasks I answer emails, plan sales campaigns and do all of the packing. I am also in charge of ordering all of the raw materials etc, plus I have to do the accounts,VAT and keep the Web Page in order. Then, at weekends I may be travelling around the country to Horse shows, either model or real ones……….. I am beginning to think cloning may be the only option………..or maybe a talented apprentice 🙂