Limited Run Ceramic ‘Asian man’ from Blade Runner

userd1402

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
This thread is to see if anyone is interested in having a screen-accurate copy of the ceramic 'Asian man' figure from Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner, from one of the original vintage molds.

I’m sure many of you will have heard of or seen the mysterious ‘Asian man’ statuette in Blade Runner. It appears in Deckard’s apartment in several locations including the bedroom (because Ridley Scott loved moving props around the set between takes). It’s a 12 inch high ceramic figurine of a Chinese ‘wise-man’ with a tall hat and flowing robes. The one in the film appears to be a light tan / cream colour (difficult to be accurate because the film uses moody lighting and strong post-production colour grading);

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In over 20 years of collecting Blade Runner props I have only ever seen 4 of these in the flesh, including a male/female set I owned briefly myself, so they are certainly not common. My own had the date 1-11-1974 etched on the base before firing. I sold that set over a year ago, mainly because it wasn’t even close to screen-accurate (it was bright green) and it's important to note that none of the ones I have ever seen match the colour of the one in the film. Anyway, I was at home over the Christmas and new year break and on new year’s eve I was idly flicking through some far-eastern auction websites and I came across a vintage ceramic ‘slip-casting’ mold. The mold, part of a much larger cache of molds being offered, had received no interest from buyers but I recognised it as being the very same Asian man statue used in Blade Runner. These were original manufacturer’s masters and all had been in storage for many years.

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Luckily as an artist-maker I have my own ceramic kiln and, by coincidence, some experience in slip casting. This must be fate (it isn't, there's no such thing). The mold itself is a big chunk of vintage plaster weighing over 5 kilos. It’s been well used and has a few edge chips which will mean the casts which come from it will require some carefull cleaning up by hand before firing but this is a great opportunity to do a limited run of completely screen-accurate Asian man statuettes.

While waiting for the mold to arrive from overseas I looked into replicating the light tan coloured glaze and after looking carefully at all the available pictures of the original my own feeling is that the glaze on the piece used in the Deckard apartment scenes is not a high gloss but a more silk finish. I found a pretty good match and this one is a Spectrum earthenware glaze which fires at 1,060 degrees C. It has the nice silky finish and shows some variation in colour depth on detailed pieces. I like this one a lot and I think it will look very accurate.

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As soon as it arrived I cleaned up the interior of the vintage mold with a soft brush to remove years of dust and it came up nice and clean. Next I re-assembled the halves and bound them tightly together with packing tape. I haven’t done any slip casting for several years but there was still an old 5 litre jug of earthenware casting slip in my workshop gathering dust so I decided to try it without any further delay. The slip had thickened a little but for the purposes of this first test it was good enough. I filled the mold and left the slip to firm up overnight (in the summer heat this process would take about an hour) and the following morning I found the two sides separated easily. The cast has great detail and enough firmness to stand under it’s own weight.

There is only one small issue with this first test and that was the top of the man’s hat has fallen in where I stood the mould upright to allow excess slip to pour out as it dried. I will dry the casts the other way up in future.
Although this first test wasn’t completely successful I’m really impressed with the finished size and level of detail in this cast
.

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I need to be very patient with ‘green’ slip casts and they can’t be kiln-fired until they are bone dry as any moisture remaining inside the clay may boil in the kiln, become steam and expand until the piece blows apart. In the summer heat, where the temperature in my timber workshop sometimes reaches 37C these would be bone dry in under 24 hours but it’s January and it’s bitterly cold here (only one degree above freezing this morning) so I think I’m going to wait a few weeks before I try pouring any more of these. When in production the bone dry casts are fired to about 900C to produce 'Bisque' or biscuit-ware which can be further smoothed and sanded if necessary. The bisque is then glazed and returned to the kiln for the second firing, 1,060C in this case, and this produces the finished piece.

My plan is to get a stock of fresh white earthenware casting slip and do a short run of these in April/May when the weather is (hopefully) a bit warmer so if anyone would like a screen-accurate glazed ceramic ‘Asian man’ figurine as seen in Blade Runner now is the time to say. I estimate raw materials (clay slip, glaze), energy costs to kiln-fire twice and the time-consuming clean-up and finishing processes mean each one would cost £40.00.

First run sign-up list;
01: stussy
02: RipleyL
03: Mechanized
04: TheSweatshop
05: JamesM242
06: masterjedi322
07: MKA
08: BGB1983
09: RobertMuldoon
10: JAC5
11: Harrison4257
12: shpider
13: EmmaInCandyland
14: Eurojunkman
15: bbmchl

First run full.
No payment will be asked for until finished, glazed figures are ready to dispatch.
If this run is successful a second run will be done.


Second run interest list;

16: septic
17: AnalogJunkie
18. Kalel76
19. RAPageJr
20. AlbertEinstein
21. AlbertEinstein
22. TangoGirafarig
23. TangoGirafarig
24. JetSetWilly
25. TheSweatshop
26. strategicgfy
27. Fatswaller78
28. rickhoward
29. kurtyboy
 
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userd1402

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I’m interested if you’ll ship across the pond!

Sean
I will. All shipping will be at cost. I will publish postage prices & delivery options when I start getting sellable pieces done.
I am also happy to mark overseas postage as 'gift' or 'value £5.00' on the customs declaration form to help recipients avoid any extra tarrif charges at their end (yeah, smash the system!!) although I have no control over any of that if it does happen.
 
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userd1402

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Update; I got a new jug of casting slip and couldn't wait to try it so I poured a new slip-cast last night and this morning the raw clay is looking good. I kept the old boy upside down and everything, including his hat, is complete and in place. I know from reading this forum over a decade or so that casting stuff can mean a lot of cleaning up to raw casts (haven't tried making anything from resin yet) but this is how it looks before any trimming or sanding so I'm really pleased with how this is going.

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userd1402

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I always planned to do a small indented stamp, inside the foot area, while the clay is still soft. Mainly because I don’t want to be accused of ‘passing off’ my casts as vintage examples and now you mention it a date would help ensure no confusion. I will look into it this week.
 
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The Sweatshop

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah the only reason I like the date idea is because these things deserve to have a known age. It’s pretty cool to have something old, I’d like to imagine something like this lasting past 2122.
 

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