How it all began

A hippy plodForeword
“You are not obliged to say anything, but anything you do say may be taken down in writing and used in evidence”
I must admit to saying that more than a few times some forty odd years ago, but somehow unless you keep a diary there is little writ down on the day to day doings of life, even when they become a pivotal moment in your fortunes from then on.
So dear reader, I made no notes, but I have the best archive ever in Isobel and other fellow travellers plus of course my imagination.

After all my darlings this is a story.
Its foundations were some years in the past but in our meanderings in the world created by Terry Pratchett you could say it really started here.
So, if you’re sitting comfortably then Uncle Bernard will begin.
‘Here’ was Covent Garden, ‘when’ was June 1990.
An article had appeared in the Sunday Telegraph colour supplement which previewed Terry’s latest book: Guard! Guards! This had excited the interest of a ‘man in a suit business consultant’ who was working with us at the time. Isobel had heard a reading of ‘The Colour of Magic’ on Radio 4 in 1985 and as a result bought and read all the available Discworld books. Then I read and also enjoyed them hugely. It took an outsider to join the dots and recognise a commercial synergy between the sort of things we were making (humorous fantasy figurines), and what Terry was creating in his books.

 

A dialogue opened up with Terry’s agent Colin Smythe and we met up with him in London. Once the principles had been established it was down to meeting Terry himself. At that time there were no ‘real’ Discworld characterisations other than those produced as book covers by Josh Kirby. Great art, fun covers but not exactly helpful. We were advised to steer clear of those and Terry, no mean artist himself, faxed us drawings to give us some idea of what was in his mind. Over the years this process became so slick he only had to say what character he had seen on film or TV and we were on to it, but that’s a whole other story.

Rincewind 1
The First ever Rincewind made by Clarecraft
Terry's drawing
The fax from Terry giving his ideas about Rincewind and Granny Weatherwax

So with a very concise sketch and a few years of experience in making any number of wizards from Gandalf onwards I started modelling Rincewind. The wax finished up at about 14 cm. tall. I tried to get that haunted look along with his whole body signalling ‘hangdog’ plus the tatty clothes, battered hat with misspelt sequins and of course his pendant. I thought I had got it about right; working to that scale was never easy and knowing that anyone who read the books would be judging what we had produced certainly sharpened the mind. But that was nothing compared to the prospect of showing it to the man who had created such a fantastic and rich universe and had granted me permission to turn aspects of it to something tangible that anyone could see and hold.
The only other writer I had taken ideas from at that stage was dear old Tolkien. Not many laughs there I can tell you but great images from wonderful storyteller and of course dead, which certainly helped when it came to deciding the ‘look’ of a character.
So here I was about to meet with a man who told pictures in words, could draw and had the final say on anything that was made under his name. No pressure then!

Rincewind 2
Rincewind – first edition

I remember it being a hot day and we met at lunch time or just after as Terry had been to see his publishers not far from Covent Garden. We knew he would be at a café and indeed he was. We sat down next to him, me clutching a cardboard box in which nestled this rather fragile lump of wax, which liked heat as much as a chocolate kettle and with the same propensity to morph into a shapeless lump if subjected to anything warmer than a mortician’s handshake.
There was no preamble, a brief ‘hello’ and it was ‘open the box’. I think he was as excited as we were, after all, suddenly words into something you could put on a mantelpiece. I carefully and oh so mindfully opened the box and took out the wax model, which was securely fixed to a small piece of square board by its base, and put it on the table. Terry and Rincewind looked at each other. Terry stretched out his hand and taking hold of the base board lifted it to eye level so he could really see it clearly. I waited my heart in mouth and nervous as hell. Terry looked at me and spoke.
Just then from only a few meters away a Bavarian Oompah band struck up with earth shattering jollity interspersed with the hearty slapping of thighs that seems to accompany this form of Teutonic torture. I didn’t hear a word the dear man said, not a single word! Our entire conversation was carried out between gaps in this wall of sound and all the while the sun beat down on my wax model. Every time I tried to put it in some form of shade provided by our beer glasses so Terry picked it up to examine it once more. His verdict: it needed only an adjustment to Rincewind’s eight-sided pendant and it would be just right.
Well you can guess the huge relief and shaking his hand on the deal I knocked the ruddy box on the floor. Thank the gods that Terry had taken Rincewind out for one more look before we departed. The ‘suit’ and I made our way back to Woolpit and the very next day this piece was being moulded and put into production and I with Leigh Pamment started on Granny Weatherwax, Two Flower and the others.

Terry's Errol
When Terry visited the studios he drew Errol and Isobel took notes.
Detritus from Terry
In just a few lines Terry gave us the whole ‘picture’ of Detritus.

It was the beginning. The first of many meetings, projects and collaborations which continued until my good friend’s passing earlier this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry's sig
He wrote this when he signed my copy of ‘Guards, Guards’ such an accolade and I’ve used the title ever since!

Finally, this – to me, well it says it all.

9 thoughts on “How it all began

  1. This is lovely, leading to a very happy collaboration, I can picture it all happening. Rincewind was the first Clarecraft figure that I bought. I joined the Guild and collected the ones I could, as funds allowed. We made the trek to Woolpit in 1995 and enjoyed it all very much, I remember the ‘paint your own’ being very popular. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Thank you Bernard for sharing the “unveiling” of Rincewind!! It was such a JOY to meet you and Isobel when we called in to talk “all things Terry” with you. Remember we told you both that we had based our visit to Bath around The Importance of Being Ernest with the wonderful David Suchet. Well we went backstage on the final night clutching a poster. As before David was charming and when we told him that he would “HANG” next to Sir Terry he replied with such affection that he would be honoured. He then said how very much he had enjoyed the “wonderful part of the villain in GOING POSTAL” “Such a part” he finished!! How very blessed we were to meet him and you two. I treasure the drawing you did on my carrier bag. Thank you. Long may the Emporium flourish. Sandra and Nick H.

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  3. Dodgy looking gezzer and no mistake gov. Bernard I remember seeing you and Isobel in the Cafe Munchen opposite St.Martains church when you were starting up the collectors club many years ago, I think Terry was also doing a signing.

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  4. Great story! I was lucky enough to meet Terry at a book signing in Waterstones, York at the release of Masquerade. It was crowded and there was a long queue, so to keep myself, and the others, amused, I wass throwing some yo-yo tricks. The queue was windy (the bookshop is an old bank and heavy with L-space) and we went round a corner, not realising it was the last corner, Terry was signing books but glanced up as I recovered the yo-yo and shoved it in my pocket.

    When I reached the front Terry asked some questions about juggling (He was writing Jingo! at the time) and asked me to show him some more tricks, which I did, holding up the queue. My copy of Masqerade was signed “To the Compte de Yo-yo” – one of my proudest posessions.

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  5. I first met Bernard and Isobel in the summer of 1997 when Bernard loaned me a copy of Guards, Guards. I was then lucky enough to spend a certain amount of time in the shed/studio watching the master turn a lump of grey wax into the figures and buildings that we all have come to know. One of my more valued pieces is a ‘Toby Jug’ of Terry in plain white and signed by Bernard. I have been hooked on the books and Bernard’s sculptures ever since.

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  6. My Rincewind model ( the very first I ever bought when they first popped into the shops back in the very early 90s) has a bent hat. That is it is not pointing outwards away from his head but is bent round attached to the rest of his hat and is as one piece on his head. His face also is not as long as the one in your article here. The felt on the base is only a small round and is not covering the entire base of the model. The sticker on the base is also an early clarecraft sticker, quite ornate really with a full circle and a Celtic look. I was always under the impression that this was the “first” edition Rincewind and not the longer faced, bigger and sticking out hatted version in your article. I am now very very confused.! Would be happy to share photos of him.

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