Dark Horse Arts and Gifts was conceived in July 2008 by Glenn and Jeanie
Schreider as a means to help Gina produce and sell her ceramic artwork.
Why Dark Horse?
First, we like the name! Jeanie has had an incredible love of animals all her life and rode her own horse in jumping competitions as an adolescent. She has owned and cared for horses, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, dogs and cats. She has rescued animals from pounds and
adopted pets through animal rescue services. Together, Glenn and Jeanie have adopted 5 rescue kittens. Although she doesn’t ride regularly anymore, horses remain a particular passion of hers.
Second, the term ‘dark horse’ was originally coined to refer to a political candidate who was unknown, yet managed to win an election against all the odds. Nowadays, the term is used for anyone who fits that description. Since Gina beat her breast cancer against great odds, to in fact be healthier today than she was before her disease, we feel that the name fits particularly well.
Art is creative, interactive, and engaging. Positive messages in art can transcend political, social and economic boundaries. Anyone, no matter who they are or where they come from can appreciate good art. Such art can bring joy and happiness into people’s lives.
Art also gives a creative outlet for many individuals who would otherwise have no such opportunities to express themselves in such a rewarding way. There is nothing more satisfying than using your talents and skills to create something others can appreciate, admire and find pleasure in.
Just after my wife Jeanie and I moved to Arizona to get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, she proposed we start a family home business making ceramics with her mom, who lives nearby. We literally were a mom and pop and mom’s mom business. Since we had just moved to Arizona, we decided to go with southwestern designs (geckos, frogs, coyotes, cacti, chili peppers, rattlesnakes, etc.).
We began by doing local art shows in Casa Grande and Tucson. However, the labor involved in packing, hauling, setting up, breaking down, repacking, hauling home combined with the inconsistency of revenue from show to show quickly became more work than we wanted to put into that aspect of our not yet budding business. Additionally, I have permanent back problems which limited my hauling capabilities.
Jeanie had learned HTML from her day job and had been tinkering with some websites of her own when we discovered Etsy. We decided to link the items on our website directly to our new Etsy shop. All that was back in 2008.
We still did some shows in Tucson for another year or so and forgot about the Etsy shop. Until one day when we received an order! That’s when we decided to pay a little closer attention.
In the autumn of 2010, after exhaustive online research, Jeanie thought it would be a good idea to make Ceramic Christmas Trees – just like everybody’s grandmother and aunt had back in the day. We started with the miniature trees and didn’t even have them produced until mid to late October – yet by January we had sold over 150 little trees! The following year, we invested in the next larger size tree. By late October 2011 we had sold enough our 11″ trees to purchase molds for the two larger size trees.
The ceramic Christmas Trees took on a life of their own – and took over our house at the same time – and her mom’s house as well. We can only produce so many trees a year because of the time that it takes to make one kiln load of trees – about a week to complete (5 11″ trees, 2 16″ trees, 2 19″ trees, and the bases and various small items in between). We can do 4-6 kiln loads a week during the busy holiday season, and we work 12-18 hour days, 7 days a week to do it.
Each year the number of orders increases and some kind, patient customers have had to wait as long as 5 months after Christmas to receive their trees. We have shipped to all 50 US states, all of the Canadian provinces, and to 20+ other countries.
Jeanie hurt her back in January of 2011 (lifting a heavy bucket of liquid clay), by April she could barely stand or walk. She was diagnosed with cancer a week later and tragically passed away in September, 2012.
Her mother and I have managed to keep the business going through thick and thin. With the occasional help, and tremendous behind the scenes help, most notably from my girlfriend, we strive to keep Jeanie’s exacting standards and ‘can do anything’ spirit so you will receive a high quality ceramic product that you will cherish for years – if not generations. We have some ceramic pieces that are over 50 years old. All of our ceramic items start with premium white ceramic slip (liquid clay) and fired in our own kilns, made entirely by hand from start to finish, right here in Arizona, USA.