Once upon a time, rather more years ago than I care to remember, I found a dear little green pottery bunny in a junk shop on the Isle of Wight. As I have a predilection for green ceramic items I snapped it up.
At the time I did not realise that it was a SylvaC rabbit. It’s only since I began researching my knick knacks project that I uncovered the story of these endearing little cutesies, which is actually quite strange because the SylvaC factory produced them in enormous quantities from the 1920’s all the way through to the close of production in 1982.
The rabbits are probably most easily recognised, even by people who have no idea of their provenance. They come in many colours, but green is the commonest, and pink the rarest, and thus the most sought after by collectors.
And collectors there are aplenty – this is a lady called Jenny Hulme with her extensive collection. I recently read an article about a man who begins every day by scanning online auction sites, seeking the elusive pink bunnies. He already has a collection of over 300 pieces, displayed in custom built shelves in carefully lit alcoves.
Despite this, he is prepared to bid on a box containing several items just to get one particular item. Personally, I think this is a form of pleionexia, but then, I think nearly everything is.
SylvaC did not stop at bunny rabbits.
They were pretty keen on doggies too. And cats, squirrels, foals, vegetable vases with faces (the crying onion anyone?), storks, swans, shells, in fact almost anything that can be made from clay, which covers a multitude of possibilities.
Well, this got me going. So I made some plaster casts of the bunnies in my possession.
I had it my mind to play about with multiples and the idea of a positive army of bunnies. I was also intrigued by the idea of mass production and a machine that could just grunt out one rabbit after another. I ended up making lots of the beastly little things without much conclusion.
But after spending a lot of time on the project I ground to a halt. Technical problems have caused me to pause for a while. and I was sick to the damn death of casting horrid little rabbits. I much prefer modelling by hand.
One cast collapsed but I did a little surgery on it to make a mummy bunny.
I recycled another mould (remember plumbing problem?) and although it was not a finished piece I thought I saw a way forward.
I have been struggling with a way to use transparent plastic tubing to ‘carry’ the small bunnies from the ‘boiler’ but today I began to play with them.
I’ve already realised that the tubes are too long and must be cut down. And I’m not happy with the glaze. I must develop a green matt glaze similar to the one used by the SylvaC factory.
I had been quite jaded about the project but now I feel enthusiastic about it again. It will take quite a long time but one day the bunny boiler will start production!
And when I went into the studio today I found certain liberties were being taken with my dear little bunnies!