Thank you for taking your time to visit our site.
We hope you will find it interesting and informative. To the best of our knowledge, the biography of Walter Brockmann contained here is the most comprehensive written account available. His story is one no one should miss.
The history of the studio tracks it from its inception to the present. Again, we hope it to be interesting and informative.
But, let us take some time here to help understand our industry, dispel some myths, and make each of you a more knowledgeable collector.
First, it must be understood that a finished building is the work of many individuals, each contributing their talents to bring you the very best products available.
Have you ever heard the phrase "why reinvent the wheel?" That is the base upon which the "Lighted Snow House" was developed. For the most part, very few buildings were actually designed by artists from the studio. What the vision Mr. Brockmann and Jo Taylor provided was to take a common production piece and turn it into a veritable masterpiece.
The small buildings used by the studio had been in production since the early 1960's. They were designed and produced by a number of different companies as a part of a veritable cornucopia of products, from canister sets to religious objects to dragons and many more, all of which were a part of their offerings to the ceramicist of the time.
The gift that Jo and Walter gave us was to take two or more pieces, put them together, add bright colors and exciting decor as they converted them from a baked piece of clay into the buildings that grace each of our homes today.
When Richard Kay teamed up with the company in the mid-1970's, it was time to move into the next phase of the studio's growth. As a talented sculptor and mold maker, he was able to convert the visions of both Jo and Walter into custom buildings, "First and Main" being one of them.
Although production pieces continued to be used, custom items began to grace the studio. The first was "The Log Cabin", the work of Walter and Richard. Next was the "Cupola Mansion" and, brought to you for the first time today, "First and Main", but that story has already been told. Interestingly, Mr. Brockmann completely sculptured, molded and produced the "Cape Cod", the only piece he personally completed from start to finish.
The "Colonial" started with a building by Gare, but turned into something far more beautiful than ever envisioned by its original designer. The same holds true for "Christmas Card House" from a Byron mold and the 1997 Limited Edition "Castle Mansion", also by Byron. Never however, could they have foreseen the way Jo opened the piece up and made the interior every bit as beautiful as the exterior. What started out as a drab, simple piece blossomed into one of the best ever done by the studio.
So, the contribution made by the studio was not just the buildings they designed and produced, but, and perhaps more important, the way they changed drab to beauty, simple to expressive, and, as with the 1993 Limited Edition "Estate House" designed and built by Mr. Kay, Jo turned it into a masterpiece. But, these all pale in comparison to the 1994 Limited Edition "The Rambling Rose" which, as Jo points out, just painting the window trim takes 538 brush strokes. (But, who's counting?)
So, let's visit the issue that has plagued collectors since 1974. Why was Department 56, for all intents and purposes, allowed to duplicate the buildings and their decor without the studio doing anything to stop them? The answer lies at the beginning of the story. The buildings themselves weren't designed by WB Studios, although they clearly pre-dated those produced by D56, something confirmed by Nancy Keller of Bachman's, the original parent of Department 56. She is quoted as saying "These lighted houses are very special." "We started carrying WB years ago, before there was even a Department 56." (From Collection Editions, 1995 by James van Maanen.)
Since the buildings had been made from commercially available molds, there was no basis to challenge D56. (Whether the mold companies could have stepped in when D56 had the molds copied for production in the Far East is left to their owners.)
The 'stylized' letters, 'WB', 'WB Studios','Walter Brockmann Studios' and 'The Walter Brockmann Collection' are the registered trademarks of Frank Paradise, Edmond, Oklahoma.
Department 56 & D56 are the registered trademarks of Escrow Associates, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia