Events: Cyber Signing 2004 - How It All Began

From Marilyn on 15th November 2006

When Chris and I started the group in March 2003, we naively assumed that it would virtually run itself with many members chipping in. The reality has been somewhat different... We discovered a real thirst for knowledge and with me being the Hazle researcher I have ended up doing most of the work! There wasn't the slightest inkling back then that we would dream up the idea of a Cyber Signing - and run it too.

However on 5th October 2003 a few of us met up in the Chat Room, including Elizabeth L (Buffy) from Arizona who was sad that she couldn't get to UK Signings or see all the special pieces Hazle does for them. She felt that part of the Hazle Ceramics world was closed to her. Everything Buffy said echoed the sense of isolation from other overseas members. So we promised to have a think and see if there was any way of doing "something" on the group. This was a bit rash because obviously any "event" would require photos and we didn't even have a digital camera! And we would probably need a computer more powerful than ours. Despite all this and having few or no technical ideas at that stage, we had a word with Hazle...

From Marilyn on 6th November 2003:

I am delighted to let everyone know that Hazle has agreed to do a Cyber Signing on the group! The idea came when we were thinking about how to help overseas members who can't get to UK Signings. It may be a while before the precise details are worked out but it is likely to take place in January - a quiet time for the workshop.

There will be some short-run Limited Paintings and hopefully we can launch the group ceramic/s too. Members will be able to order by email. It is also envisaged that Hazle will host a Question and Answer session in the Chat Room.

Is there a particular subject you would like to be given the Hazle treatment or a certain building you would like painted as a special - or both? We will do our best but cannot promise to incorporate all the ideas this time.

The Keyboard Friends painting was being discussed in tandem and Marilyn wrote again about the Cyber Signing on 23rd November:

If we are going to have some Cyber Signing Specials they need to be planned with Hazle. I am forever dreaming up ideas and a small selection is shown below, listed in no particular order. A good idea is one thing but the bottom line is would you be interested in buying this?! Again feedback and/or alternatives appreciated.

1 French style PATISSERIE
I have a picture of one in a pink/yellow ochre with three rows of decorated cakes and jars of bonbons, which could look good on the Teddy Bear building. We could have a few people's heads appearing over the goodies, which might also include a wheatsheaf and baguettes. Another possibility is the TV Shop. The family and dog are licking their lips at the display, with the little girl pointing to her birthday cake. Did you know that she is a young Hazle? Brother Alastair modelled this ceramic with her childhood coat.

Possibly called HIGH AS A KITE. I have a lovely "one-off" on BOOTS with intricately painted kites. It really appeals to my "inner child / flight of freedom" fantasies!

A well known UK grocery chain founded in 1883 which did not survive the growth of supermarkets in the 1950s. It would look wonderful on Marks & Spencers which will probably finish next year. Groceries could be painted on the modelled shopfront and inside. The intricate fascia/clock could be picked out in different colours. The work involved would come with a higher than usual price. But very collectable for the future!

There could be a painted sky with an exploding light show on the wall, plus window/s with the actual fireworks in. I can think of lots of names: THE ROCKET BOX, MILLENNIUM PYROTECHNICS, BRIGHT SPARKS, SKYLIGHTS, GO OUT WITH A BANG, NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE and so on ... Perhaps you could order the name of your choice! Possible buildings could include Sally Lunn and Old Curiosity.

Perhaps called CHIFFON, with riot of gorgeous colours in dazzling designs and gold highlights. A must for painter Sharon Stroud, a highly talented quilt and graphic designer. The DRESS SHOP is one obvious choice. I would also suggest BOOTS again.

We could pick our own version. My current choice would be THE NUTCRACKER (Ballet) - a seasonal story with many colourful characters in the three upper windows. The wall could be painted light terracotta with a soft blue trim for a different look.

On FISH & CHIPS with Father Christmas, snow and all the trimmings.

Below is a selection of the replies received on the same or following day:

From Karen McH on 23rd November 2003:

I would like to register my support for the Cyber Signing. In 10 years of collecting, I have never been able to attend one so am thrilled for the opportunity. Thanks so much for organizing it! My husband and I have come up with a few ideas to add to the mix:

From Elizabeth:

I think the cyber signing is a wonderful idea, and I will definitely participate. As one of the international members I very much appreciate all your efforts. I love all your suggestions, especially the Patisserie on the TV Shop or anything on the Boots building. I also remember an email where someone suggested a computer related theme for the cyber special which I thought was a nice idea. Once again, thank you for organizing this. It is such a nice gesture for those of us who cannot attend the signing events.

The computer-related Keyboard Friends is on a separate page in the Know-How section.

From Yorkshire Karen:

I would be interested in the cyber signing, and will try and come up with plenty of ideas by Wednesday. Definitely no firework shop for me though, as we live with open fields at the back of the house where every teenager for miles around seem to have set them off nightly since they went on sale in September… they are the bane of my life!

My ideas just off the top of my head…

From Janie:

There's not a bad idea in the lot, but just to help you sort things out, I am particularly keen on the HOME AND COLONIAL STORE.

From Mary C:

Yorkshire Karen will disagree, but I love the idea of the Fireworks Shop because of Guy Fawkes Day. I also love the ideas for a School Uniform shop and Tube Station. How about a Kebab Shop? Has there ever been a Police or Fire Station, Hamley's or Harrod's? I'm new to this list, so I don't know if these are appropriate suggestions.

From Marilyn on 24th November:

Many thanks for the replies - so far! I am printing them to take to Hazle's. She likes knowing what interests collectors. Most people have a natural reticence to post "in public". But don't worry about whether your thoughts are "appropriate". All will be considered but there may be reasons why they can't be done this time round.

Schoolwear has recently been painted on the Hay Bookshop in two versions as Signing "one-offs" and I am sure one could be painted for us. I will also convey my enthusiasm for a Tube Station. Some are renowned for period interiors which could depicted through a wide entrance. Probably best done as a new building, about a week's work for Hazle - but a great idea for future release.

A Fire Station was once done as a commission on Thomas Cook. The retired Victorian Post Office had a few versions with the title sign Police Station. The current Malvern PO was recently an LP10 Signing Special as Police. There has been no "proper" Police - with the blue light. Again, it would require a new model. I will also mention Tescos, Kebabs and Gentlemens' Tailoring and London Souvenirs.

Hazle would like to do more London buildings, but is still trying to get Fortnum & Mason off the ground. A drawing has been done which they liked. The sticking point is that it wouldn't fit with their Gifts department. Could Fortnums be persuaded to sell it in the Food Hall - perhaps as A Souvenir or Gift from F & M? As I said in my write-up on the Fortnums Event, for many Fortnums Is Food. So it is the best place. Take me with you next time Hazle as cheerleader! I'd also love to peruse the archives for book material.

There has never been a flatback Seaside Store or Chandlers - except as specials. I know Hazle would like to model items hanging outside - another big project! The Retro series idea is also great - there have been a few specials in the past on this theme. Again modelling some customers outside is a bit complicated for now. But the TV Shop already has some 3D customers in 1950s garb - I will ask Hazle about it.

A Dance Hall has been painted on the Turkey Cafe with dancing couples in the wide doors. The Cinema could also be suitable but you might not be able to see the dancers. There is a beautiful Jewellers, Gordon Marks, based on a Cobham shop, available from Harvey Weston. Painted on Boots in bluey-green with cream/gold highlights, the colours are not clear in the Photo Albums. But is it old-fashioned enough for Yorkshire Karen?! And how about Cinderella for a Christmas panto?

Please keep the ideas coming... some may even end up in the main range! Or you can simply express support for the event. I am counting the votes for various pieces. The group ceramic will be part of this. I already have an ideas and buildings list ready.

(Note in 2006: There is a feature about the group pieces Keyboard Friends in Ceramic Focus, plus descriptions and photos on the Signing Specials page.)

From Yorkshire Karen:

Thanks for collating our ideas, it will cost me a fortune if all my favourites are done! The police station would be great with a blue light… maybe it could be part of the retro series, modelled on the “Heartbeat” station? Aargh, can I afford to think of any more?!

PS Could you also suggest to Hazle that we have some transport for the next members gift? Maybe a bus or car to add realism to the street scene? Thanks!

From Marilyn on 19th December 2003:

Hazle and her painters have been following the dialogue on the group. They are making decisions about what to paint based on this, along with the painters' inclinations and areas of expertise, and the suitability of buildings.

The story continues on a separate page Making It Happen in this section.

Last modified on 2 June, 2021
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