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  #1  
Old 05-01-2010, 07:02 PM
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Ries Ries is offline
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Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

Carlson, which is probably the largest and best known commercial art fabricator, is going bankrupt.
They fired all 95 employees a couple weeks ago.
The made things like Jeff Koons' Balloon Dogs.
They developed the finishes and techniques to do it, and, expensive as they were, I doubt anybody else could build similar stuff for less.

http://preview.bloomberg.com/news/20...s-big-art.html

There are still a few other large scale art fabricators- I know of one in NYC, one in Chicago, and one in Seattle, who do similar scale stuff, but Carlson was particularly good- Carlson himself was VERY good at figuring out how to do the impossible, based on a napkin sketch.
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2010, 02:51 PM
EJB EJB is offline
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

WOW
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2010, 06:37 PM
raspero raspero is offline
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

Shocking. I am not a fan of Koons, but I am very much a fan of Carlson. His work is brilliant.

R
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  #4  
Old 05-02-2010, 08:54 PM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

I imagine the other big art fabvricators are licking there chops to pick up the slack,the reall bummer is the 95 artist canned. Hey Reis how the hell did they get that finish on those dogs,with acid?, Platting? none of the above...
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:24 AM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

From what I understand, the balloon dogs are cast stainless steel, in parts, then tig welded together. They start with 60 parts, and they knock down into ten pieces for shipping.
Then, they are polished, and polished, and polished, til they are flawless, then sprayed with some kind of very transparent paint. So the metallic reflective quality is from the underlying stainless, and the color is the thin wash of no doubt high tech paint.
hundreds and hundreds of hours of polishing, from what I have heard.

As for other fabricators- I would guess that there are only a few shops in the country capable of this level of work. And most are probably booked a couple years out already. These types of jobs have long lead times- its not uncommon for a public art job to go 2 years before fabrication even begins, so the work they are doing now they bid and accepted a while ago. Not easy to just shove in more work.
Carlson had something like 30,000 sq feet, and probably a million dollars worth of equipment.
It aint easy to just instantly ramp up to that level- just ordering and wiring and troubleshooting some of these tools can take a couple of months.
If you are currently in business fabbing stuff like this, chances are you could absorb some of his work, but it takes a while to build the facility, institutional knowledge, contacts and trust to pull this stuff off.
Imagine if you had to build a shop like that from scratch, hire and train guys to work in it- its a huge undertaking. I know with my shop, its a big job just keeping everything working, the employees supplied with materials and tools, and I only have 2 or 3 guys when I am really busy- none, right now.
A big shop like this has a life, and personality of its own, and has to grow organically, or it cant work.

http://www.carlsonandco.com/
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  #6  
Old 05-03-2010, 10:25 AM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

Quote:
Originally Posted by iron ant View Post
I imagine the other big art fabvricators are licking there chops to pick up the slack,the reall bummer is the 95 artist canned. Hey Reis how the hell did they get that finish on those dogs,with acid?, Platting? none of the above...
I talked to a different fabricator who did some small balloons for Koons and I seem to remember that it was a tinted clear coat over polished stainless. That said, I could be wrong.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:27 AM
EJB EJB is offline
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

Yup. Hundreds of hours of polishing, a dozen or more layers of tinted clear coat, then hope some moron doesn't scratch it 'cause you gotta do it all over again! It also takes a long time for the clear coat to dry, meanwhile you can't touch it or risk leaving marks with rigging or crate bracing. Carlson designed some super deluxe crates that essentially suspended the components by their connection points for transport. They were always the go to guys for doing the impossible. A reputation for being expensive but it costs money to make the impossible happen and they did it all the time. To keep an operation like that going is another impossible challenge. Perhaps the possibility of them closing has always loomed. Just like a nuclear plant meltdown or an oil rig in the gulf exploding, the possibility is always there, you just hate to see it happen. Hopefully all the tools and talent will readjust, regroup and continue to do good work.
I'm popping a beer for the boys (and girls) at Carlson. Good luck.
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:43 PM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

Caroline Montague used tio clear coat stainless with Emron and tints,but we never got that effect,and of coure the stainless was not polished but had streak marks from a grinder with 120 pads pulled over in patterns/waves.I would like to see that dog in person,as the fab looks beyond belief. thanks for the Education, I did not know about Carlson,I guess im not in the loop on the fabmaster,but you guys are......
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:09 AM
Famosart Famosart is offline
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

I do a good deal of work with SS and also have had a good bit of luck with ALSA paints. they have a Clear 4Chrome that i add their tints to. With a few coats of Sunscreen and it,s ready for the beach.
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Http://gallery.Mac.com/famosart/100147
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  #10  
Old 07-05-2010, 12:38 PM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

Talked to somebody who was in Carlson's shop last week- everything has been auctioned off, and its empty.

But Peter Carlson himself already has a new, much much smaller shop operating, with just a couple of guys- a new business, legally completely separate from the old one that went under.

He has such a reputation that he will have no problems getting work- but without the couple million dollars worth of equipment he used to have, it will have to be simpler work, or he will be jobbing out processes.

Life goes on.
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Old 07-07-2010, 08:05 PM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

China China China

Americans can concentrate on their creativity and let china supply our need with their slave-wage-labor-source
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  #12  
Old 07-08-2010, 09:24 AM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

While there are some Chinese art fabricators trying to break the american market, its not gonna be a big factor.
First- wages in China have been consistently rising lately- many chinese workers got 20% raises in January, and another 15% in June.
Thats a HUGE amount, and it isnt stopping.
Chinese costs are rising all the time, and the Chinese want out of low profit low wage manufacturing, which is moving to the next cheap places.

Second, art fabrication is not a production line process- it requires being done right the first time. And artists dont know what they want til they see it- which means that most artists want a fabricator they can do a lot of back and forth with, changing details along the way.
This obviously doesnt work when you are 10,000 miles away, and speak different languages.

For straight foundry work, where the form of the piece is already decided by the artist, the Chinese are competitive- they have lots of foundries, some very good.

but for most high end fine art fabrication, the cachet, convenience, and flexibility of US fabricators will still trump the slightly lower cost of China.
Money really isnt that much of an object, when you are making a Koons for a million bucks that will sell for 20 million. Koons would rather work with somebody he knows, and can talk to daily in english, than save a hundred grand.
And chinese skilled shops are not 30%, or 50% of US prices- they are much closer. I know a guy who sources injection molds for US electronics companies- and he says as long ago as 3 or 4 years ago, Chinese tool and die shop costs were about the same as eastern europe, and only 10% to 20% cheaper than US costs for really high quality work.
Sure, for absolute bottom of the barrel commodity junk, the chinese are cheap- but thats not what artists want, or expect.
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  #13  
Old 07-09-2010, 05:55 AM
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Re: Art Fabricator goes Bankrupt

Ries is right. China is experiencing phenomal wage growth. China also sees the necessity of moving away from low priced work. They want to be known as a country that manufactures goods with a decent profit margin. Not scrambling for the lowest price.

According to the WSJ one of the new low-priced countries to manufacture from is Vietnam. Its only problem is that they suffer from lack of infastructure.

Carl
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