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Calamityware 4: Fast or Right?

 

Another shipment of Calamityware 4 (UFO invasion) plates reached Fulfillrite this morning. So more plates are on the way to their new homes. Most of you will get an email notification with a tracking number when your shipment starts to move. That’s a vast improvement over our old system.

Unfortunately, the final batch of Calamityware 4 plates ran into an unexpected production problem. Some of the transfers didn't look right and were rejected. They just weren’t perfect. While those transfers are being replaced, the final Calamityware 4 plates can't be produced. So a few supporters of this Kickstarter project are going to get plates later than I planned.

It will only take a few days to get the replacement transfers. But then a few more days to apply the transfers, dry the transfers, fire the plates, pack, get them to the fulfillment center, and ship. It all adds up. Soon two weeks goes by. So my original plan to have all the UFO plates out by Thanksgiving has fallen through. For a few of you, it is going to be mid December. An amazing number of things will have to go wrong to jeopardize that plan.

I’m really very sorry that this final shipment is going to be late for some of you. But the choice was between fast and right. For plates that might be around for decades, it seems more important to make them right than to make them fast. I hope you agree.

Don

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Calamityware 4: Starting to roll

Good news. This morning, the first truckload of approximately one-third of the Calamityware 4 plates (UFO invasion) reached Fulfillrite, our new fulfillment partner. This afternoon, nearly 400 plate shipments started moving toward their new homes. Our portal into the Fulfillrite system lets us see which packages are going out the door. This is the way a 21st-century system ought to work.

If nothing goes wrong, a second truck with the remaining Calamityware 4 plates is scheduled to arrive at Fulfillrite in a few days. So, if the workshop keeps its promises, I expect all Calamityware 4 plates to be on their way before Thanksgiving. Just like I originally hoped.

Most sponsors will get an email update with a tracking number to alert you that your shipment is moving. Watch your spam folder if you care about these details.

Thank you all for supporting my ridiculous projects. 

Don

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In the Beginning

The very first sponsor of the very first Calamityware plate, was Jeff (pictured above). That was early November 2013. This week, I asked Jeff how this happened. Here’s Jeff’s reply...

I’m fond of poking around new Kickstarter projects, looking for great ideas hidden amongst the hundreds of new projects, and giving them a nudge. Indeed this is how I spotted Calamityware a year ago, a bit buried on Kickstarer with no backers, I thought “No, this isn’t just a great idea, it’s brilliant! This has to happen.” A few posts later on Reddit and some tweets, and here we are.

While I realize that some people collect and display plates as a hobby, I decided to put ours into service. They are impressively made, with a great weight and feel to them. Very sturdy.

So we’re three plates in now (and can’t wait for #4), and Calamityware plates have become the talk of our house at dinner parties. Everyone makes a grab for them, be it the kids or grandparents. The most fun comes from the double take that occurs when someone new sees their first Calamityware plate. We often hear the comment to the effect, “These are really classy.” And then…they see monsters. :-)

Jeff

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Plates are shipping! Calamityware plate 4 design is ready!


The labels are going on the boxes and the boxes are going on the truck. The first shipment of Calamityware plates (1s, 2s, and 3s) are going out the door today (Thursday, July 31). More will trickle out each day for the next few weeks. You should all be dining with monkeys, robots, and sea monsters before the end of August.

If you are expecting multiple Calamityware plate designs from our online store and/or Kickstarter, the workshop is combining orders into consolidated shipments. Some customers will be getting big boxes.

If you are one of the people still waiting for orders from back in the spring, they are finally shipping too.

First, eat your vegetables…then you can have dessert. Mom always insisted that we attend to our duties before moving on to delightful pastimes. Mom was right. For those of you interested, I'm postponing the launch of the fourth Calamityware plate on Kickstarter for two weeks to ensure that there are no distractions from the task of getting the current backlog of plate orders out.

I'm going to launch the next Kickstarter project, Calamityware plate 4, on August 15 and let it run for 30 days. If that project gets enough sponsors, we’ll start production near October 1. Our goal will be to get all sponsors their Calamityware 4 plates by December 1—in time for holiday gift giving.

You can receive news about designing, producing, and enjoying Calamityware plate by liking the Calamityware Facebook page. 

And if you want to fill gaps in your Calamityware plate collection, you can find earlier plates at BuyCalamityware.com.

 

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Squish Monsters

Monsters on monkeys—what could be better than a bunch of these soft, squishy, gooey treats served up on your very own flying monkey Calamityware! Imagine the delight of your dinner guests when they lift the last cookie off of the plate to discover the calamity.

If you want to try making these buggers yourself, here is the recipe. When I was a kid, my mom used to make a version of this cookie that she called a Carmelita. In my adult years, I came across this version which had no nuts and were a bit more gooey (I don't know about you, but I don't like walnuts in my cookies, but if you like them, feel free to chop some up and throw them in there). They are almost like eating a candy bar, but with a delectable oatmeal/brown sugar crumb mixture that gives them a cookie taste. They are worth every calorie! And they were certainly worthy of their own unique name.

Squish Monsters

2-1/4 cups flour (separated)
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups butter, cold (3 sticks)
2 cups chocolate chips (12 ounces)
12 oz. jar of caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 13x9 pan; cooking spray works fine. Using your food processor, mix 2 cups flour, all of the oatmeal, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Next, slice the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces, add to the food processor, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, and if you don't have a pastry blender, you can use two knives to cut the butter in. Next, press half the mixture into prepared 13x9 pan, squishing it down to fill the bottom of the pan, and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup flour and caramel sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

After 15 minutes, pull pan out of oven and top with chocolate chips, sprinkling evenly over the surface. Next, drizzle the caramel sauce mixture over top of the chocolate chips. Lastly, crumble remaining topping over the pan, making sure to cover the entire surface. Bake an additional 18 to 20 minutes, or until top is a bit golden. It may jiggle and seem undone, but once it cools, it will firm up. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Hint for easy cutting: After greasing the pan, and before squishing in the first layer of crumb mixture, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the pan large enough to hang over the two long sides of the pan to make a sort of sling. Continue with instructions for pressing bottom mixture into pan. After the cookies have cooled to room temperature at the end of second baking cycle, put in refrigerator to chill. Wait at least four hours, or until the next day. Take the pan out of the refrigerator, and jiggle the parchment paper to release the cookie bar and gently lift it out of the pan onto a cutting board. From here, you can cut the cookies more easily than if they were in the pan. I like to cut them into six long columns by seven short rows, giving you 42 cookies.

These cookies are best served at room temperature, or heated up in the microwave for a mere 10 seconds. They're also delicious served with ice cream!

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Kissing frogs

 

A handful of unlucky people who ordered the first and second Calamityware plates still don't have their shipment. I’m very sorry about the delay. It was not what I intended.

Last week I uncovered one of the reasons. I was talking to Bruce at the workshop where my drawings are applied to the porcelain and fired. He confessed that they frequently talk to artists about grand plans to produce hundreds or thousands of plates but no orders ever come in. He and his team have been frustrated by this experience so many times that they have given it a name. They call it kissing frogs. Bruce said, “We have to kiss every frog we meet. But they never seem to turn into a prince.”

When they met me, the team assumed that I was another frog with big dreams and that few plates would ever be produced. So when it was time to produce and ship my orders, they were unprepared. They didn’t have enough porcelain blanks on hand and didn’t have enough shipping cartons of the right sizes. Most important, they didn’t have enough production time blocked out in their schedule.

Bruce and his team had never heard of Kickstarter. So the notion that I had already found homes for all the plates I ordered was a new concept. They are accustomed to the delays of a long sales process.

I believe I finally have the team’s attention. The majority of the production calendar for the end of June and the start of July is committed to Calamityware. So, the backlogged Calamityware 1 and 2 plates as well as all the Calamityware 3 plates from the recent Kickstarter project will be in production soon.

Once again, I apologize to those of you who have had to wait. You’ll be dining with flying monkeys and giant robots soon.

Don (former frog)

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Proofing

Proofs sometimes trigger changes. Here's a pair of photos comparing details of proof 1 and proof 2 of the first Calamityware plate (flying monkeys) with some of the changes highlighted. These refinements are needed to ensure that details are not lost. As I've gained more experience with reproducing drawings on porcelain, these tweaks are becoming rare. But proofing will always be part of the process to ensure that the design is right.

Sometimes obsessive attention to meaningless details is an asset, right?

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Testing the box

Carton tested. You might be interested to know that the shipping box we will use to send Calamityware dinner plates has been thoroughly tested and approved by both the US Postal  Service and UPS. It has worked admirably in all but the most extreme conditions.

Test 107E
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Monkeys on the truck

 

The first Calamityware plates are shipping. Some are already rolling toward their new homes. The rest will go out the door today and tomorrow. You'll probably have your reward for supporting the first Calamityware Kickstarter project by next week, unless you live in some distant, remote, or inaccessible place.

If you snap photos of your plate in use, post the image on Twitter with the hashtag... #calamityware. 

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