Street of Cunning Artificers
This street in Ankh-Morpork is lined with shops and workshops, wherein all the members of the Artificers' Guild ply their trades and sell their wares. It resounds 24-8 with hammering, sawing and other noisy craftsmanship. There is practically nothing that some clever young man or dwarf cannot knock-up, jury-rig, devise a new way of doing or come up with through tinkering. Yes, some of it will be Heath Robinson, but most of the time it'll work, and work well. Many of the heroes of the Discworld books have had cause to use one or other of the craftsmen - or dwarfs - found on the Street of Cunning Artificers. Glod Glodsson and Lias Bluestone had Buddy's harp repaired here, for example.
It was also here, presumably, where a tinkering dwarf found that by putting a mesh around a flame he had created the safety lamp, which does not ignite minedamp: instead its flame burns blue to alert the operator, inadvertently triggering incipient warfare.
This is also the street Leonard of Quirm was residing in before he was incarcerated (i.e. in Wyrd Sisters). Since this street is in an ethnic area of Morpork, it is probably safe to assume that Leonard of Quirm had fewer patrons than Leonardo da Vinci.
“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.
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!
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.
It was the beginning. The first of many meetings, projects and collaborations which continued until my good friend’s passing earlier this year.
Finally, this – to me, well it says it all.
Discworld is magic and Terry the master magician.
Over the twenty five years we knew and became friends with Terry Pratchett Isobel and I enjoyed extraordinary times in many places around the world.
We have met some remarkable people many of whom have become friends with shared memories of much laughter and fun. Terry’s kindness to his friends, his wit and gift for story telling made every occasion memorable.
This blog is dedicated to his memory and to all those fans and friends who are no longer with us.
Bernard Stanley Pearson (born 13 September 1946)
A British potter and sculptor who in 1981 set up a pottery called Clare Craft in the Suffolk town of Clare. Here Bernard and his team produced a range of fantasy and often amusing figurines with great popular appeal. This led to a meeting with Terry Pratchett in 1990 and Clare Craft went on to design a range of figurines based on characters from Terry’s Discworld novels.
In 1997 at Terry’s suggestion Bernard embarked upon ‘The Unreal Estate’ a series of highly detailed architectural models based on Discworld locations, most notably the Unseen University. Also, during this time, he and his wife, Isobel created a wide range of studio pottery based on landscape and fantasy under the back stamp of ‘Bernard Pearson Ceramics’.
In 2000 he moved to the town of Wincanton, in Somerset, England where he established a Discworld centre and retail outlet called ‘The Cunning Artificer’ the name bestowed upon him by his friend Terry Pratchett. Here, he and Isobel launched more Discworld merchandise including the now almost famous ‘Discworld Stamps’ This latter collaboration with Terry Pratchett resulted in the creation of many thousands of ‘Cinderella’ stamps that are held in collections from the British Library to private collectors the world over. He also co-authored ‘The Complete Discworld Almanack with Terry in 2004.
‘The Cunning Artificer’ became the ‘The Discworld Emporium’ in 2011 when Ian Mitchell and Reb Voyce joined the partnership and set up a successful online business shipping books and Discworld artifacts all over the world. Following the death of his friend Terry in 2015, Bernard took a back seat in the design and running of the Emporium. And since then the seat has been shoved so far back it now rests in a large, comfortable shed at the bottom of his garden, behind the premises. He occasionally wanders into the shop to greet Discworld fans and, when requested, will tell them to leave in his usual rich and fruity language.
In 2018 Bernard published his first novel ‘Dovetail’. It was well-received so that's what he does now. Mostly write. Bernard is known for his wit and skills as a raconteur; he has embarked upon several podcasts and occasionally posts on a blog. Otherwise, age has not unduly withered, nor the years condemned beyond the need for suitable alcoholic refreshment and good pipe tobacco. He considers himself, all things considered, a very lucky man.
Early Clarecraft: Elven Knights
Early Clarecraft: Hedge Wizard
Early Clarecraft: Landscape pot 1999
Discworld: Original Rincewind
Discworld: Granny's cottage.jpg
Discworld: The Ubseen University
Discworld: The Mighty Organ
Discworld real estate: The Drum
Discworld: The Thunderer
Painting: Landscape study borderlands
Alex asked in bewilderment. Tim stood with a guilty look and was silent. "Why am I silent, once I started - you need to continue, whatever the outcome. Whatever happens" - Tim thought to himself. -Kiss.My Artificer Build In Dungeons and Drgagons in 5e
She chose a man of average ability and ordinary appearance - my father. son of a retired professor. whose only possession was. most likely.
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His eyes again filled with fear. - Yes, calm down. Why do you need a passage through the swamp.