A “MELTING POT”

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A few years ago we decided to launch our very own foundry newsletter. We had the good fortune to work with artist Stephen Charlton, and thanks to his help and guidance “Crucible” was born. Our vision was a “melting pot” of news and stories from the foundry and the sculpture world. Ambitious, but we had a go.

At the time, Stephen was running his own design studio while also creating his own sculptures. One day he visited the foundry, looking for a place to cast his first bronze. We chatted about sculpture, business, marketing and …newsletters. A deal was struck in the form of an informal arrangement. We cast him some bronzes, he creates the look and feel of our new newsletter. Just as important was his encouragement and thanks to Stephen’s ideas and graphic vision, “Crucible” was something special.

He raised my ambitions, got me focused. Each edition became a project, a struggle to improve on the last one. But he was right. “Crucible” was different, memorable. It had a physicality to it. It was tactile, expensive. We printed on broadsheet scale, black and white on heavy paper. I remember Stephen explaining the importance of presence. Of standing out, being noticed. The paper had texture and weight. “Sculptors love materials” he said “This is for them!”

Although only a few editions were published, they remain special to me, as documents capturing a bit of Castle’s history. I struggled to create headlines and write the copy but also enjoyed the challenge. It was a great learning experience and got me thinking about our business in a fresh way at a time when I was working in the foundry everyday. He taught me about marketing and about quality. That even a simple newsletter should reflect the quality of your work, your product.

We sent them out by post and through The Royal Society of British Sculptors, who kindly agreed to insert it in their own publications to their members which introduced us to hundreds of sculptors. The mailing list increased and with it the work and cost to produce it and send it out.

As so often happens in a small but growing company, I became so busy with day to day stuff that the effort to keep the newsletter a regular event became hard to sustain. To my disappointment I stopped, not because of a conscious decision but slowly through lack of conviction. After all, nobody’s was waiting for it to land on the doorstep. Occasionally someone would ask me when the new Crucible was coming out. “Soon” I would say, unconvincingly “I’m working on it”.

On occasions I thought about the next edition, made some notes, but the longer time went on the less it seemed to work. How relevant seemed the old projects? How many new developments are there? Who’s interested? Business seemed to move very fast and it kept me busy.

We still have a few boxes of ambitiously over printed copies, tucked away in the office store and they are still available as PDF on the website www.bronzefoundry.co.uk. My set of Crucible’s has the feel of a historic collection, dated but relevant because they remind me of our history and my personal adventure. Browsing the old copies, now I am struck by both my confidence and naivety in presenting our work and new ideas. Maybe I was reading too many marketing books at time. They also remind me that I needed to focus on news and remember not burden myself with the desire for each copy to be a work of art.

This year the foundry celebrates twenty-five years, a great landmark for Castle Fine Arts and for yours truly. Its quite a story really. Now the foundry has a life of its own and I view it form different perspective. On my trips to the foundry these days I often feel like a visitor myself. A very proud visitor I must add. The breadth and quality of our work, the craftsmanship, the great artists we work with and the life the sculptures take on in the big wide world, forms a rich tapestry. Perhaps launching The Blog will rekindle the flames and we will get our “melting pot” at last. From the creation of an idea in the artists studio to the streets and public spaces of the world, where pretty much everything we’ve made together still stands today. A part of everyday life. Still looked at, touched and reflected on by thousands.

Watch this space.

6 comments

  1. I remember how wonderful it was working with you in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and hope to cast bronze with you one day soon again.

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  2. I remember first coming to you one cold winter day when you and Paul were working in a windowless cow shed, which was an improvement on your previous foundry apparently! I’ve since handed over to Hall Conservation and you are still the foundry of choice for Brian. I always enjoyed my copy of ‘The Crucible’ and shall look forward to reading the the new blog.

    As always, very best wishes,

    Andrew

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  3. Hi
    Always enjoyed receiving the news and seeing what you were up to, especially if our products were involved.

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  4. I will definitely watch this space……

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  5. Graeme wilson, · · Reply

    From graeme wilson,
    I was very lucky to spend a week on a works experience at the foundry and learnt a lot, the people working there were so helpfull & I had a fantastic time, I still think about the foundry a lot ,& still want to complete a bronze portrait head,but not for a year or so
    Looking forward to reading more about the foundry
    Graeme

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  6. Some times a narrative in a set media sees its course; however you tell the tale in other ways. Great people don’t worry about letting people in and seeing what has taken years to develop. Where some people see years of knowledge as something to covert and protect; others see it as fuel to ignite the passion in others. And the fuel that they provide then feeds the fire within them to keep sharing.
    Blue touch paper lit…..

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