I like drawings that make me laugh. When I inherited a traditional Blue Willow-pattern plate, I just had to redraw it and add a pterodactyl. As I drew more plates and added more calamities—UFOs, Sasquatch, and volcanoes—folks urged me to produce real dinner plates. A Kickstarter project was born.
The first three Kickstarter projects (flying monkey, giant robot, voracious sea monster) found sponsors, so here is the fourth project in what might turn out to be a long series. This design includes a fleet of flying saucers. Imagine finding those bad boys behind your quiche!
The final production plates will feature a rich blue image on white porcelain. You can hang it on your wall or use it for dinner (food safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe). Makes a really astonishing gift.
If we get enough sponsors, the craftspeople at Bryan China Company (New Castle, PA, USA) will transfer the elements of my drawing by hand to full-size dinner plates and fire them at 1500 degrees to permanently fuse the image to the porcelain. I expect to ship these plates before the end of November 2014. You can lavish Calamityware 4 plates on friends and family as holiday gifts.
Series continues. I’m committed to producing at least six plate designs in this series. If sponsors remain enthusiastic, I’ll go to 12.
Here’s the current lineup.
Calamityware Plate 1: flying monkeys
Calamityware Plate 2: giant robot
Calamityware Plate 3: voracious sea monster
Calamityware Plate 4: UFO invasion
In the future I see pirates, volcanoes, tentacles, pterodactyls, the vortex of doom, and a plethora of obnoxious creatures. But probably not all those calamities at once. Watch for updates as the lineup emerges.
If you missed the previous Kickstarter projects and want to address a gap in your Calamityware plate collection, you’ll find earlier plates at BuyCalamityware.com
Will all the plates in this series match? No. The designs of the plate borders and central image will be very different. It’s also possible that the exact size of the plates and the shade of blue will shift slightly because the plates, transfers, and firing are going to be happening at different times, months apart. If you are a perfectionist about matching, you should order a set of identical dishes with the same design on all.
How can I get a collection of different designs? If you want each of your dinner guests to have a different calamity, the best way is to sponsor each of the successive Kickstarter projects. I’m trying to space these projects 90 days apart. So it is going to take a while.
What about international shipping? If you live outside the US, you’ll need to order your Calamityware plates on the BuyCalamityware.com website. Plates are heavy and fragile, so lugging them to distant parts is a major effort. Rather than have a flat rate for all international shipments and charge some people too much and others too little, this approach allows the giant robot to calculate realistic shipping costs for each international address.
What if I live in Canada? Shipping to Canada is considered international too. So you’ll need to visit BuyCalamityware.com to order plates and add the appropriate international shipping cost.
Why are pledge amounts higher than the previous project? My goal for Calamityware was never to get rich, but at the start I promised my wife, The Amazing Karen, that I wouldn’t lose money on my silly plates. Then I immediately started losing money. Unfortunately, the pledge levels I posted for the first three Kickstarter projects have not been high enough to cover ALL the costs. That didn’t matter much when I only had 200 sponsors, but as Calamityware has attracted more fans, my low pledge levels have gotten me in trouble.
Shipping costs have proven to be significantly higher than I was initially promised. Then there was a rate increase. The cost of porcelain blanks and shipping cartons has crept up too. Kickstarter and Amazon each end up taking a full five percent cut. The tax man wants a share too. And there are a host of little marketing and logistics costs that no one anticipated. It’s amazing how much skywriters charge these days. Pledge as much as you can and help save my marriage.
More back story. Sponsors of this project will receive periodic updates through Kickstarter as the project unfolds. You can also receive a trickle of news about designing, producing, and enjoying Calamityware plates by liking the Calamityware Facebook page.
If you want even more details about Calamityware plates, take a look at the previous Calamityware Kickstarter projects, the videos, and the updates I shared. Search on the term “calamityware” or follow this link to the previous project. Check out the video.
Risks and challenges
A little optimism can be a good thing. Without some optimism, not much would happen. Explorers would not start on new quests. Artists would not begin masterpieces. And no one would get out of bed in the morning. But optimism also gets mankind in a heap of trouble by blinding us to all the things that can go wrong.
I have started each of my three Kickstarter projects with optimism. Each time, fate has rebuked me with astonishing swiftness. I continue to be amazed at the number of things that can go awry on a fairly simple project.
The basic techniques of making plates are thousands of years old. But even this simple and mature technology can still go wrong in surprising ways. And because even simple Kickstarter projects require the efforts of many different people, I’ve learned about the richly varied ways that people can throw a monkey wrench into the works. In this context, the expression “throw a monkey-wrench into the works” isn’t literal but instead refers to the wide variety of ways that people can thwart my tidy plans. And because Kickstarter projects happen in both the real world and the digital world, they are also vulnerable to everything from snow storms to cyber shenanigans.
Let me list just a few of the episodes that caused trouble during the first three Calamityware Kickstarter projects:
* The Tempermental Kiln
* The Elusive Proof
* The Incomprehensible Customs Form
* The Thursday of Compounded Confusions
* The Slow Boat From China
* The Wrong Box
* The Un-photogenic Lasagna
* Funerals and Other Unpleasant Distractions
My team eventually overcame all of these challenges and my sponsors got their plates (most without any delays). We will crush these challenges if they appear again. The maddening thing is this. Those specific problems probably won’t appear again. Instead, the universe will fling new and unexpected problems at us—calamities that we can’t even imagine.
This is where optimists get in trouble. At least an imaginative pessimist is ready—armed with the knowledge that something is probably going to go wrong. The pessimist knows that projects are prone to sink in quicksand, wander into dangerous traffic, or explode. A true pessimist with real-world experience knows a triple is possible. A project can sink in quicksand, wander into dangerous traffic, AND explode all in one gruesome day.
I have come to believe that Fate favors the scenario that creates the greatest mess.
[Cue the inspirational music]
I can’t promise you that this project will unfold smoothly. It might. But based on recent experience, I doubt that. I’ll do all I can to anticipate problems and vanquish threats. Whatever happens, I promise to get my sponsors whimsical plates as soon as possible after the project closes. Your plates will reach you in good condition and be ready to enjoy—a distinctive blend of beauty, utility, and humor.
- (31 days)