Events: Cyber Signing 2004 - Making It Happen

From Marilyn on 9th January 2004:


At last we have a DEFINITE weekend for the Cyber Signing - it is February 14-15. Many of you will realise that this is a month later than anticipated. There have been some unforeseen delays and difficulties with the office & workshop move which has set back timescales. We also needed to avoid the weekend January 31-Feb 1 and either side of it. (This is the main Giftware Trade Fair of the year at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham UK and an important showcase for Hazle Ceramics to attract new customers. To visit all the stands you would have to walk about 70 miles!)

Prototype paintings are ready, subject to revisions. Even I don't know the latest but will be talking to Hazle again soon. Perhaps we should ask for a ceramic called Valentine!

From Marilyn on 29th January:

Chris and I had a delightful time with Hazle and Stephen on Monday looking at ceramics and all aspects of the Cyber Signing, before the painters came in on Tuesday.

A great deal of planning and painting goes into the creation of Signing Specials right up to the last minute. So much so that sometimes Hazle is removing ceramics from the kiln on the morning of Signing Day to take with her! In our case we will need our sample ceramics well BEFORE the day to photograph with our (new) colour-accurate digital camera and put them on the Yahoo site... please! Chris is busy building an exclusive members-only page and working on other technical details.

Hazle didn't want too many themes in case only one or two ceramics sold on each. Then the considerable time spent developing that idea is a bit wasted when it could have been used for say an LP10. Some themes will be shared between two buildings, each counting towards one Limited Painting. This was first tried at Roding Arts 2003. The ceramics will be on display for at least a week and painted according to the number ordered, so there is no competition for pieces.

The painters have seen our members' suggestions - but they have their own ideas too! Hazle prefers not to be too prescriptive with specials so that each artist can shine in their areas of interest and expertise. Some ideas work first time while others need many prototypes. We discussed the technical or artistic reasons why some prototypes were unsuitable as a final version. Below are details of the likely pieces, written from memory. The event page will include descriptions so you don't need to remember anything. Most ceramics are traditionally painted.

1 Varsity Shop / Back to School
This is the closest to something members asked for - school uniforms and college scarves. Hazle wanted to use the Windsor Jubilee building (now Dairy/Barber) so that both could be covered together. The Varsity Shop, based on one in Oxford, occupies the larger right-hand premises. Varsity, an informal term for university, particularly applies to Oxford and Cambridge. The wall is blue - the traditional Oxbridge colour. The window displays gowns, a mortar board (academic hat), scarves and other college items. Back to School - for the Junior Scholar is on the right side with a honey coloured wall. The painting looks quite different from other specials on this model.

2 The Magic Carpet
There is one version on Boots and another on Filofax. Both have an oriental carpets and every carpet will be slightly different. If you don't have a ceramic on Filofax this could be the one - it's the best special I've seen. The elegant but understated colours set off by a traditional black shop front perfectly complements the classic lines of this building from Conduit Street in London, near John English Gifts. The painting on Boots has the same colours but the architecture naturally makes it distinctive from Filofax.

3 Rods 'n' Reels
Although I don't go fishing I will definitely be buying this! Again there are two paintings - on Sidmouth (Kitchen Shop) and Old Curiosity. The wall is sea blue - set off by orangey highlights elsewhere. The fish on the wall would not look out of place on a shop like this. Both buildings have large windows with lots of fishing tackle - for sea or shore.

4 Vets and Pets
Based on the TV Shop which has few specials so should be highly collectable for the future. (I am told the model is being discontinued and it wasn't in the catalogue that came out before Christmas.) The workshop decided that the little girl was pointing at a pet she wanted, not the birthday cake I suggested! The wall is green and the curtains and title sign "Pets Galore" are picked out in red, forming a pleasing visual contrast. The windows are full of pets and a sign on the wall advertises the Vets above.

We thought the Pet Shop would make a more colourful and interesting first choice. But it MIGHT be possible to have a Cobblers (Shoemaker/Repairer) also on the TV Shop, instead, or as well as, if sufficient members were interested. There were two prototypes on view. One was called Nelson Lovatt after an Essex man who lost both his legs in the Second World War but ironically ended up making shoes for a living. The other was simply called Shoemaker (if I recall rightly). Both versions were fairly plain with brick walls and the cobbler working in the window. The premises above are occupied by the British Legion, who assist former Armed Services personnel. If you would like this please say so now - it's a case of, Don't ask, don't get!

5 Home & Colonial Stores
One of my original ideas for an old fashioned store with groceries painted on the modelled front of Marks & Spencer. This is still being developed so we hope it will be ready for the 14th! We were offered Peabody's Oriental Bazaar on this building. But with another black shop front and a carpet as the main oriental item there was too much repetition of The Magic Carpets above - which are likely to be cheaper.

6 A Small Economy Model!
Hazle wanted to have at least one less expensive ceramic. With the start date being February 14th, I made the suggestion of "Valentines - Gifts for the Romantic at Heart" on the new Delicatessen. But the painters may have thought of something else.

7 Keyboard Friends
Iona Driver has taken some of our images and come up with the first group ceramic, an Open Numbered Painting. Portrayed as a High Street Cyber Cafe with people and computers inside, and painted on Old Curiosity with big windows for lots of detail. There is a globe on the wall - but no stars or planets. There may be another on Boots, for those who don't like this. Prototypes on Sherlock Holmes have not been successful.

8 Family History Centre
This Open Numbered Painting, on Sherlock Holmes without railings, is the only piece NOT exclusive to us. It can be personalised with a family name. Hazle thought members might find the theme interesting.

Counting the different variations this makes a possible 10 or 11 pieces on offer which we hope will be enough for our first (experimental) Cyber Signing!

Don't forget to let me know about the Shoemaker (under#4 Vets and Pets) ASAP.

Future Possibilities

Based on our previous suggestions but not an exhaustive list!

From Marilyn on 8th February:

Ceramic News
Although they did need some persuasion, Parcelforce finally delivered the box of Cyber Signing prototypes on Thursday for us to photograph. All the ceramics in my last posting will be available, except Nelson Lovatt (perhaps that will go to Harvey Weston, Janie). We also have an group ceramic on Boots as well as Old Curiosity. The small model on the new Pateley Bridge building will be The Wine Press, all painted by Hazle. The Home & Colonial Stores on Marks & Spencer has been finished and looks fabulous.

It is all systems go here at the moment and the web page is really shaping up. Getting the lighting right for the photos is a key thing - we want to pick up some of the modelling but not overdo the "shine". Gold lettering is particularly tricky because it reflects so much. Our new digital camera was chosen partly for its colour accuracy. However the quality of reproduction will also depend greatly on the resolution and colour cast of your computer screens. To view the detail, large scale high resolution images of each ceramic will be available by clicking on the photos.

Hosting the Web Page
There has been much research and discussion with Hazle and Stephen on how best to host this event. Ideas included using for display and checkout (which would then not be exclusive to us) or using the checkout along with our own exclusive display page. However, ordering pages that use the hazle checkout need scripts (a type of embedded program). This is incompatable with Yahoo which doesn't allow scripts on its group pages. So the Cyber Signing will be hosted on the group, with the PayPal shopping basket and checkout that are compatible with Yahoo.

Ordering and Payment
PayPal is the online payment system used for millions of transactions on eBay every day. It will be familiar to members with PayPal accounts from trading there. If you don't have a PayPal account it will be a simple matter of entering credit card and delivery details. You will also need to choose an eight letter password. Your credit card details remain private within the PayPal system which is completely secure.

From Marilyn on 13th February 2004:

The Cyber Signing site is ready to roll... Hazle has seen previews, made a few suggestions and seems happy with the result. The prototypes have gone back to the workshop - sob! However, I still have our photos which are the next best thing.

We are proposing to open the web site at 2pm/1400 GMT tomorrow. That way any American eager beavers won't have to get up in the middle of the night! And it won't interfere with UK Saturday morning shopping or chores... The site will close at 8am/0800 GMT on Monday 23rd February so that everyone has a full day on the final Sunday. This will allow time to collate orders before the painters come in on Tuesday.

This is going to be a truly global and cyberspace event:

The next part of the story is the Signing Specials page itself...

Last modified on 2 June, 2021
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