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The DIY Ethic: Why ‘Hand Made’ is Better

When Chris Sievey initially set up 11:37 back in 1985, like everything else he did, it was a totally DIY effort.

If you ordered something by mail then Chris would personally handle every aspect of the transaction, occasionally roping in help from Paula his wife and his two eldest kids, Stirling and Asher. 11:37 should be listed in the dictionary as the definition of a ‘kitchen table’ organisation.

These days, nothing much has changed. Although things have moved on considerably with the advent of the internet and online payments, our approach to commerce is as home-grown as ever, albeit a little less chaotic. We try our very, very best to uphold the legacy of Sidebottom/Sievey in an authentic way that Chris Sievey himself would approve of, if he was still around.

Wherever possible, we strive to take care of as much of the production processes ourselves but in the case of the rather ambitious ‘10th Anniversary’ busts, we needed to hire in some help. Namely the talents of Andy Preston and Julie Allen., Andy took on the task of sculpting the original ‘master’ and hand-pouring each cast in his workshop garage. Ceramic artist, Julie is tirelessly and painstakingly hand-painting every single bust in her spare room. These are not cheaply produced on an overseas production line. Each one is unique, in exactly the same manner as Chris would have done them. It has proven to be costly and very labour-intensive and Andy and Julie’s combined mindset, focus and determination have been the embodiment of the Sievey DIY spirit. We are blessed to have them onboard.

It may not be obvious that 11:37 Sievey Enterprises is run on a part-time basis, fitted around busy family life, it just has to be that way. Even though we have a healthy following on social media, we are not ‘Argos’ or ‘Marks & Spencer’s’... nor do we ever aspire to be. It’s fair to assume that the majority of our online followers are casual observers and we would be fools to believe otherwise. We have received messages from disappointed fans saying that they missed out on certain items, instructing us that we should simply produce more of everything. Unfortunately, our only option is to opt for production in small runs that are financially and logistically manageable for us. The reality is that Frank Sidebottom has a small-but-devoted fan base that is willing to buy our items. Sadly, the economies of scale are not on our side but we try our hardest to gauge demand on every item we produce. That said, we are 100% committed to giving a thoroughly reliable service to all who keep abreast of what is occurring with 11:37. As long as there continues to be a demand, we will continue to produce high quality merchandise.

For various reasons it took a lot longer than expected but the “10th anniversary” bust is now done and dusted. After producing the 50 pieces, the silicone moulds have deteriorated and are no longer fit for use. This is a standard outcome when casting in resin and was the deciding factor on how many we were going to produce at the very start of the project. This run of busts was offered for sale on the agreement that we would only ever produce 50 pieces. From a ‘collectable/investment’ aspect, here lies is a big chunk of the purchase appeal. It would be completely unethical and unfair to the existing buyers to now do a U-turn and produce more, regardless of how much demand there is.

Apologies to those that will have inevitably missed out, we are keeping our options open with regard to commissioning a follow-up 1:3rd scale bust at some point in 2022.

To quote Chris himself, “It’s the best we can do.”


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