An Adventure in Clays and Time - In Conversation With Chris Mockridge - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

An Adventure in Clays and Time - In Conversation With Chris Mockridge

For those who haven’t yet stepped into the world of Chris Mockridge (Handmade By Ludicris, social media fans!), he’s a pop culture fan and a maker of magic in polymer clay. Your favourite characters from Doctor Who, Star Trek, Stranger Things, Robin of Sherwood, and almost innumerable other franchises take on an entirely adorable style in his hands, and he makes stylised models of them, selling them online, and often presenting them to the actors who embodied them at conventions, a unique polymer clay Mini-Me to add to their collection, and to stand out from the crowd.

Tony caught up with Chris, to find out what makes Ludicris tick.

WarpedFactor: When did you first realise you could sculpt in clay? Everyone plays with clay as a kid, but when did you realise you could REALLY do it?

Chris Mockridge: My parents say that at the age of 6 I created an Indian village scene at my primary school using plasticine. From then on, whenever I was given a pack of plasticine, I made characters from tv and film from it, as I couldn’t get action figures other than the Star Wars ones. I’ve never been taught, it just sort of happened, and it happened first for fun.
WF: Handmade by Ludicris started out as a business making wedding cake toppers, right? How did that happen?

CM: I didn’t make any figures from my late teens onwards, because I was busy socialising. Handmade by Ludicris really started in 2000 when my then partner Louise and I got married in Mauritius. We had a wedding topper there and it was just a standard plastic bride and groom. When we came home, we had a wedding blessing, and I created our figures for that. I made us a frog groom and a rabbit bride as those was our nicknames for each other. They were well received and for our sons’ christenings we made a mole baby and a rabbit in 2001 and 2003.

Louise created a cute face, which is our signature face, so it would be recognised, like the Forever Friends range or the Me to You Teddies. From there, we started to make some brides and grooms and started selling on eBay. In 2005, we decided to do our first wedding fair in Taunton, and a family photographer loved them. That’s when Ludicris Cake Toppers was born, and we sold each bride and groom for £160 per couple. It was something personal, something more bespoke than the generic plastic wedding toppers you could get, and people kept them around.
WF: Let's talk geek. Similarly, did you start making pop culture figures just for the fun of it, or did people start requesting particular characters?

CM: I love the geek part, but Louise isn’t really a fan! I’m a big Star Wars/Dr who fan, and I love Robin of Sherwood if you remember it?

WF: Oh, we do!

CM: I went to a couple of conventions where the stars were, and I started making my miniature figures for those. I had a stand there one year and sold my figures on acrylic bases which were well received. All the actors had a picture with their figure, and one fan bought a Jason Connery Robin, and got Jason himself to sign the base. That was a lightbulb moment. I decided to make my own collection and ultimately make two so I could give the actor one as a gift and a thank-you for what they had given to me.

I went to a London Comic-Con, but couldn’t get to meet my Doctor, Peter Davison, but when I made a Sixth Doctor, I was able to present Colin Baker with his miniature, and the rest is Ludicris history! Now when people see my figures, they often request something similar, or challenge me to make new ones. Jimmy Carr, Lord of the Rings, Freddie Mercury, anything.
WF: You make a wide range of figures, from dragons to owls to snails (some with the personalities of pop culture characters), as well as the figurines of characters. Presumably you use a lot of polymer clay and it takes a good deal of time. Which comes first, the desire to make a character or the idea that people might buy particular characters?

CM: Yes we do make so much now, it’s wild! From figures to dragons to plaques and earrings. Oh yes, I forgot the snails! Without giving too many of my secrets away, surprisingly, I don’t use too much polymer clay - most of the bulk is a wire frame and tin foil. It’s the process of building the character from individual colours that takes the time. I should make to order really, but sometimes I see a new Doctor Who character and think “I’d like to make that,” and then people see it and THEN it becomes an order.

WF: What's the process like, and roughly how long does it take to make a figurine?

CM: The process is sometimes very stressful, depending on what it is - a wedding cake topper is worse than any other figure, as they are on main display. The process starts with a block of clay, a wire frame and foil. Then there are a series of bakes, adding new fresh clay detail to already baked clay so it is pristine, easy to handle, and not smudged at all. So to make each figure really depends on details - the more detail, the more time spent. It can take anything from 2-8, weeks at probably 10 minutes work at 2 bakes a day.
WF: You've presented a lot of your figurines to the actors who played the characters. Who was your favourite experience and why?

CM: Yes I have and I cannot remember how many I’ve made and presented either! I loved meeting Matt smith as he was just like his Doctor and he loved his figure. David Tennant was good too, but the most memorable was Colin Baker. He was so kind. I gave him my figure to sign and presented him with his. The Con ticket person took my £20 signing cash and Colin said “Did you make this for me as a gift?” I said yes and he asked the ticket guy for my money back. The ticket guy said no. (Who tells the Sixth Doctor no at a convention?! – WF) Then Colin gave me the £20 from his own wallet! How kind is that?!

WF: What figures are you keen to make next, and why? Also, what's the most challenging figure request you've received so far?

CM: I’m in the process of making Jo Martin and another Jodie, also David Tennant from the 60th anniversary! I’m keen to make the 14th Doctor as I’m sure he’s going to be awesome. The most challenging figures I’ve had to make were Fili & Kili from The Hobbit, which went to a customer in Ireland.
WF: Are there characters you've wanted to make for a while, but haven't got around to yet? What draws you to some characters more than others?

CM: I always made Morph and I had a collector who bought them. I love Hong Kong Phooey and I’ve never made him. Some characters are hard to make in clay, like Darth Vader for instance. I finally completed my Harpo Marx figure recently. What draws me in with a character is my own interest mainly, and the challenge to make it look good. I really need an interest in something, and that’s why I make most of my models initially.

WF: How would you describe your style of model-making?

CM: Unique and quirky, I think. One of a kind. They have their own style and it’s kind of odd – when you start to add the Ludicris head, hair and face, they begin to look like the character. Some people say they look like Aardman animation characters or Peanuts characters like Charlie Brown, but the style’s not anyone else’s, to be honest. I feel they are unique to Ludicris.
WF: Any plans to take a stall at cons, so people can buy direct? If someone wants to order a figure (or any of the smaller scale items, like earrings, keyings, fridge magnets, T-shirts, etc), what's the best way to get them?

CM: I would love to do London Comic-Con and have a stall there, but we’re building up to that. I’m going to do Weston Sci-Fi Con in November and see how it goes. Our products are more visual, so they’re better out on display. And our figures are handmade to order, so some dummy figures on display are better, and then people can order direct from us. To order from us now, it’s getting so busy that we have a waiting time. We take small deposits and then people pay us in instalments, because – have you seen the economy out there? People contact us usually via Facebook or email. Small scale stuff is easier to get quicker as easy to make.

WF: What are your hopes for your model-making future? Full-on day-job?

CM: I have lots of plans for Ludicris in the future. I’m getting increased recognition now and a lot of people worldwide know our work. I’m not sure if I can say this but I have had a Robin Hood book planned with my figures. Twelve stories with illustrations of Robin Hood figures. Pictures of my Doctor Who figures and owls drawn to go on T-shirts and jute bags. Hopefully, this becomes the day-job. I’m also planning to run some tutorial sessions with people who would love to learn how to make figures. We’re both working in the NHS too – which is why there’s a waiting time on figures now. Ludicris will go on as long as people still want it to, so here’s hoping!

Tony Fyler lives in a concrete cave, somewhere on the edge of the sea, with his wife, who exists, and the Fictional People In His Head, who don't as yet. A journalist and editor by day, he has written Some Books, and is more or less always writing another. One day, he may even get around to showing them to people. In the meantime, he's Script Editor and occasional Executive Producer at Third Time Lucky Productions, and a proud watcher of things no-one remembers they remember until they remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad