A brand new book, 'Cast' by Jen Townsend and Renée Zettle-Sterling, explores the exciting medium of casting - of which lifecasting is just one small part. The book covers art and objects cast in a vast array of materials and techniques, demonstrating the depth and breadth of casting as an artform in its own right, as well as an essential process in creating many other types of art. André Masters & CJ Munn from Rockabelly Lifecasts/Masters & Munn are just two of many artist contributors from around the world whose beautiful work fills the pages of this inspiring and fascinating new publication.
All good things come to those who wait. And I waited 12 and a half years for a decent cast of my own bottom.Read More
Today we're being terribly un-British by drawing attention to some wonderful things that have happened recently. It goes against nature to puff ourselves up too much, and risk being seen as smuggedy-smug-smug, but with all the stress and strife in the world at the moment, we are determined to celebrate the good things in life - whether small or big - and hope you will celebrate with us.
Last month we attended the Kent Women in Business Awards, where CJ was in the final for no less than three categories - Business Achievement of the Year, Creative Businesswoman of the Year and our absolute favourite, Best Customer Service in Kent. It was a fabulous night, full of frocks, frolicking and fantastic inspiration meeting the other finalists and winners. Kent has some incredibly talented and hard-working entrepreneurs of both sexes and it's always great to make new contacts in the local business community. CJ/Rockabelly won the Runner Up prize in Best Customer Service, which we were both delighted with and she was able to cheer on two of her good friends, talented graphic designer, Kaye Sedgwick-Jones of Ohhh Kaye who won Runner Up in the Creative Business category and the lovely Karina O'Donnell, independent wedding celebrant, who nailed this year's Business Achievement Award and made us all proud.
If that wasn't fabulous enough, we found out a couple of weeks ago that Rockabelly Lifecasts made to the final of yet another awards night. The Kent Creative Awards are fairly new - this being only the second year of them running - and we are delighted to be in the final of Kent Creative Business of the Year! A night of schmoozing to look forward to with our fellow creatives when the awards take place in May.
Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, our fine art brand, 'Masters & Munn' has got off to the most incredible start to the year. Starting off with four major sculpture sales in Kent and Surrey, we then received the astounding news that the first of the limited edition sculptures of our most beloved and well-known sculpture, 'Icarus had a Sister' has been bought by a private collector all the way in Australia! Only five of these stunning sculptures will ever be made, and to part with the first, our 'baby' who took nine years to complete from start to finish, was quite an emotional event. We could not have parted with her to a more perfect buyer - one who loves and appreciates her as much as we do. We are hoping to visit Australia to install her ourselves if our schedule allows. More on this adventure as time unfolds, but when we painstakingly constructed those beautiful wings, one copper feather at a time, we had no idea her fledgling flight would be to the other side of the world!
In celebration of all this happy news, we wish to share the joy with a competition prize for our new subscribers. If you or someone you know would like to receive a signed 50 by 40cm giclée art print of 'Icarus had a Sister' then subscribe to our mailing list. All subscribers will be entered into a competition to win a print, the very first in this size that we have ever done, signed by us, to grace your wall. The deadline is December 31st 2017, and the winner will be picked at random from all subscribers using a random number generator. For full details of the prize draw terms and conditions, click here. In the meantime, please share this post with any of your friends you think might like to win a print or follow our occasional news and special offers. There are also newsletter signup forms on nearly every page on our website.
One of the things André and I love most about our job is meeting so many interesting and talented people from all walks of life. When we met Cath and Alan Bell last year, of Bell's Glass & Glazing, Rainham, we were fascinated by their family story and delighted to be asked to collaborate on a piece of work that would help them celebrate a truly special occasion....
A glass slipper changed the life of Cinderella forever, but she’s not the only one for whom glass has been rather lucky. This year heralds the celebration of 70 years in the glass trade for one Kentish business, that has been passed down from father to son for three generations, with help from a fourth!
HR Bell, as it was then known, was established in 1947 by glazing contractor Harry Bell in the city of Canterbury. Harry was born in 1915 and learnt his trade working for another glass company that went out of business. Like many young men of his generation, he spent some time in the army, but decided after the Second World War to start his own glazing business. After the war, glass was in very short supply, so he had to travel all the way to London to collect each sheet of glass, but business soon flourished thanks to contacts gained during his training and plenty of work due to Luftewaffe bombing damage in Kent. Even Harry’s father-in-law helped out in the business by re-silvering mirrors in his garden shed, due to the expense of buying new mirrors in post-war Britain.
Harry was a real character, and well known in the local area for transporting the sheets of glass using his motorbike and sidecar, with his brave wife Norah, crouching in the sidecar beside him, clinging onto the glass for dear life as he zoomed along the Kentish roads. As business improved, Harry was able to invest in some small vans to replace the famous motorbike…much to Norah’s relief, no doubt!
Within a couple of years, the family business had already grown enough to employ 18 members of staff, but his family remembers him as not having been overly keen on having a business at all - wishing to avoid the stress that often comes with it. However, the demand was there and the success of the business snowballed and, much to the appreciation of younger members of the family, he decided to stick with it.
Sadly, Harry’s life was cut tragically short in a gliding accident at Rochester airport in 1967 aged just 52, and his son Mike Bell, who shared his passion for gliding as a hobby, was left to pick up the pieces of the business after the loss of his father.
Although Mike initially felt he had no choice in the matter of taking over the family firm, he soon developed a great passion for the business and with a strong worth ethic he pushed the company forward into new directions. By the 1980s, Mike had grown the company to having 95 employees and several branches, but still thought of it as a family business and employed people who he thought would love working with him and whom he saw as extended members of the family.
Michael retired in 1996 and now the business (these days trading as Bell’s Glass & Glazing in Rainham) is managed with pride and passion by Michael’s son, Alan Bell, who continues it as a largely family-run business; with his own children, Charlotte and Thomas, learning the glass trade with plans to follow in the footsteps of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather before them. Alan believes the lasting success of the business is down to following in the work ethic of his father and grandfather before him, being the first one in and the last to leave each day; high standards of work with good, consistent customer relationships and a really personal service that you get from dealing with a reliable Kentish family business.
In honour of this amazing family achievement of 70 years in the glass trade, Alan and his wife, Cath, looked around for a special way to celebrate their business success and mark a very important milestone for the whole family. This is when Cath approached Rockabelly Lifecasts and asked us about creating a bespoke piece of art for Bell’s showroom. We were delighted to help Alan and Cath and set to work creating a unique piece of art formed from casts of Cath and Alan’s entwined hands recreated in…of course…glass! The lead crystal glass sculpture took many weeks to produce and every stage of the process was hand-made to Cath and Alan’s specifications.
“When Cath and Alan approached me,” CJ said, “I wanted to create something for them that paid homage to the nature of their family business, the beauty of the medium of glass itself, and also reflected the close family ties that have given the business its strength over the years.”
Now Cath and Alan Bell have been immortalised in glass sculpture in celebration of 70 years and counting with this wonderful Kentish family business, and they look forward to passing on the baton to their own children when they are ready to take the reins. We hope you will join us in wishing this very special family business a very happy anniversary indeed.
Rockabelly Lifecasts has been designing and selling DIY casting kits for our mail order clients for many years now. We have fairly strong opinions on which types of casting are really suitable for beginners and which ones are not. Sometimes those types of body casting that in, our professional opinion, are better left to professionals can be potentially dangerous to do without the right kind of knowledge and experience. Other types, such as baby hand or foot casting can have a very high 'disappointment rate' for beginners...Read More