Monday, November 25, 2013

UPDATED Muddy Monday: Buzz Cuts

This blog isn't a paid gig; it doesn't reap the rewards that can be measured in a bank account. It does bring about new friendships, networking at its finest, and a special excitement of, "Oh, I can't wait to hear folks' reactions to this news!" It pays in stomach butterflies, of the good kind. Another positive about writing a blog is that after you've been at it a while, people begin to mail you random data that applies to your interest. Or, they hand you stuff to photograph at shows. Or they tag images for you, send you links, and all the good things.

What you read on this blog is not just the product of one person. It is possible only with the help of many hobbyists, even strangers; in a larger sense, it is brought to you by the hands of the pottery artists, themselves.

Today's initial data came from a collector, passing along an interesting letter she received after selling her Hagen-Renaker Designer's Workshop cutting steer on eBay.

Letter courtesy Denise Masters.

The Hagen-Renaker Designer's Workshop "Cutter" is the name of a combination horse and rider ceramic model. It is paired with the sold-separately steer, which is the item that brought about this exchange. Neither were marketed with a proper name, unlike many HR horse and animal models. It was just their activity: "Cutter". Until recently, the identities of the portraits remained lost to time, we just know they were designed by Maureen Love.

Denise's letter informs us that the real bovine who modeled for the steer sculpture was actually a heifer named "Spoody" (a nickname of "Sputnik", after the historic satellite launch). The writer of the letter was her owner, and a friend of the cutter rider, Buzz. Click this and scroll down for photos of many variants of the cutting steer. Spoody was made from Fall 1958-Spring 1966 as mold #B-690; he/she was later identified as mold #24 during San Marcos production, Fall 1981-Spring 1986.

The real horse was the Quarter Horse stallion, "Buzzie Bell H", registered as a "sorrel" stallion, foaled in 1947. The chestnut version HR produced is the closest to the real horse's portrait. It is interesting to note that Maureen's personal art-glazed copy of the Cutter is buckskin, not the portrait color. Maureen's own sketchbook identified this horse by name, but not the rider, nor the "steer". 

Buzzie Bell H
Even when he did wear a bridle, it was bitless.
Photo courtesy Milton Nichols, via Ed Alcorn.

Here is his pedigree. The letter states that, at the time of the sculpture, he was already a Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Champion. Here is a link to more of his, and his offsprings', achievements. Both Quarter Horses and Paint Horses descend from Buzzie Bell H.

Those unfamiliar with the sport of cutting may wonder why the ceramic horse has no bridle. This indicates a higher level of trust, knowledge, and skill of both horse and rider. It is still practiced today. In fact, the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association has a bridle-less cutting competition to benefit local charities, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Buzz on Buzzie Bell H
The real HR DW Cutter
Photo courtesy Milton Nichols, via Ed Alcorn.

The rider in real life was "Buzz" Harold Hutson. I wrote to Mr. Nichols in September 2013, requesting more biographical information about Buzz. There seems to be none to be had online. As of today, I have not received a reply. 

UPDATE: Ed Alcorn saw this blog post, and just sent me his own letter from Mr. Nichols, with the same date as the letter to Denise in 2010:

Letter courtesy Ed Alcorn.

HR produced the Cutter and the steer in Monrovia in chestnut and buckskin. At the start, the HR order form calls it, "Quarter Horse and Rider" #B-689.

Fall 1958 order form

The Monrovia colors of chestnut and buckskin were made Fall 1958-1962,

matte black during San Dimas: 1962ish* to Spring 1966,

and as mold # 23, in glossy and matte buckskin during San Marcos, Fall 1981-Spring 1986.

A major difference in the San Marcos mold is that the rider was molded separately, and slip-stuck onto the horse's saddle. There is a tiny gap of light to be seen between the rider's bum and the saddle seat. This is a no-no, in real life. Sit down, man!

Model courtesy Jayne Kubas.

You can view all of the normal factory versions of the Cutter here. Because I never focus strictly on the normal, this post features two different versions that are both factory incomplete, missing decoration.

At first glance, this matte buckskin San Marcos Cutter looks fine. He was sold as a first quality, and has beautiful body shading and sharply-painted details.

Model courtesy Jayne Kubas.

Then, you take a closer look at Buzz. He is as gray as the real Buzz would have been when this San Marcos model was issued!

Model courtesy Jayne Kubas.

This rider's hair was forgotten by the underglaze decorator. This is particularly odd, since they remembered to decorate the hat's band, and the band looks like the same underglaze color as used for the hair on normal examples. This Buzz has been buzzed.

Model courtesy Jayne Kubas.

A little gray hair is no big deal; after all, aging is better than the alternative.

Speaking of which, meet "Ghost Rider".

Model courtesy Jo Ellen Arnold.

This is a San Dimas Cutter second, originally from the collection of a former HR employee. This Buzz never saw decoration beyond the spray for his flesh tone. 

Model courtesy Jo Ellen Arnold.

This a fascinating peek into the decoration process of a very complex model from HR. The saddle, clothing, features were all hand-applied by brush, as opposed to quickly airbrushed like ther flesh and horse color. With a fine brush, the decorator could delineate the fingers separately from the denim thigh. This factory oddity, fondly known as "Ghost Rider" to his current owner and at the model horse shows, wasn't stopped at just the airbrushing stage. 

Model courtesy Jo Ellen Arnold.

There is sort of a parallel between these unfinished Cutters, and the unfinished story of Buzz and his horse. I still hope to hear from Mr. Nichols some day, and complete the story. For now, the identities of the three players in the drama- horse, rider, steer- are revealed.

HR issued completely different Love molds depicting this sport, as Specialty line models. The "Cutting Horse" #3214 and the "Cutting Steer" #3216 were made Fall 1996 to Fall 1999. It appears there is an error in the Handbook citing that the steer continued to at least 2003 ("present"), but I may just have a lapse in available reference materials?

I hope you enjoyed learning that there were real, live identities behind these handsome ceramic models. 

Thank you to Jo Ellen Arnold and to Jayne Kubas, for letting me photograph their HRs in their homes! Thank you, Denise, for the letter from Mr. Nichols. Thank you, Dawn Sinkovich, for letting me browse the Love sketchbook photo archive.

UPDATE: Thank you, Ed Alcorn, for sharing your letter from Mr. Nichols, and his photos.

* The Cutter remains on the order forms, without a color choice, for the entire duration of the factory lay-off and move, from 1960-1962. There is no way to for me to make a distinction for the exact date the matte black appeared, without a dated receipt of when a dealer's order arrived.


Benuish, Alison, ed. Hagen-Renaker Research Materials: 1949- Present. N. pag. Salisbury, MD: WMHC, 1995.

Roller, Gayle. Hagen-Renaker: A Charlton Standard Catalogue. Third Edition. Pp. 84, 489. The Charlton Press: Palm Harbor, FL, 2003.

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