Much of my time over the past few days has been taken up in searching the planet for some tubs of porcelain slip tint.
And when I say planet, I do mean, planet.
I have emailed distributors worldwide, in an effort to track down the most elusive of colours in the slip tint pantheon......California Sunrise.
I sense blank looks and puzzled shrugs, so let me explain.
I work in porcelain. Well not IN it, obviously, but it is the medium in which I create the little toys and dolls. The raw material is porcelain casting slip, which is specially formulated for high-fire bisque dolls. It used to be available, pre-mixed in gallon tubs, in a wide range of 'flesh' tones, from Brown Velvet African-American skin tones, through Oriental, and American Indian to very pale Pink Blush tones.
However a few years back, the U.S manufacturer changed from selling pre-mixed tubs in the full range of colours, to selling predominantly white slip, in conjunction with small 4oz pots of slip tint, in all the colours, which could be mixed with the white slip. The obvious advantage to this was not having to keep stocks of the bulky tubs in all the required colours. I could just have a few tubs of plain white, and a selection of tints, and mix up small amounts as required. After all, a gallon tub of say, Brown Velvet, would last me for years and years, while other colours might only last a few months. The cost differential between a gallon of slip and a small pot of tint was also substantial, so it made good financial sense to embrace the new system.
Now, strictly speaking, I don't make dolls. I make miniature people who live and work in doll's houses, shops etc, so the normal very, very pale 'doll' colours were too pasty and washed out for me. So I chose California Sunrise as my flesh tone of choice. In spite of the name, it isn't a perma-tan orange tone, but a softly sun-kissed, healthy colour, and after years of using it, I have boxes and boxes of assorted limbs, bodies and heads all in the same flesh tone.
So far so good.
However, when I got down to my last pot a month ago, I rang the one and only UK distributor to find she was out of stock! Not only that, she'd had it on back order but her latest shipment from the US didn't include it.
No matter. I thought I'd go straight to the source and placed an order for 6 pots from the manufacturer. Only to receive an email informing me that they had no idea when they would be replenishing stocks.
Hence my trans-global distress messages over the past few days. I'm getting desperate now as I'm down to my last few eggcupfuls of slip, with no prospect of easily finding more.
And no, sadly it's not as easy as changing to a different slip tint. This is because it took me years to find the perfect colour, and also because I have substantial stocks of limbs which wouldn't match with a different colour. Which would mean that I would have to make hundreds more limbs in the new colour to go with new heads and bodies.
Not a problem I wish to have to solve.
So my slip tint search continues............watch this space............