I returned John Alberti’s call, and we had a marvelous, wide-ranging conversation. He explained that Windstone Editions is America’s premier makers of collectible “fantasy figurines” – dragons, griffins, unicorns, winged cats, flying horses and an entire menagerie of mythological creatures I had never heard of – like a kirin, an oriental unicorn.
“Collectors refer to our figurines simply as ‘Windstones,’” John explained, likening them to the fantastically expensive Spanish porcelines known as “Lladros. “We have collectors all around the world.” John launched into stories about devoted collectors making pilgrimages to the Windstone factory to meet his wife, Melody Peña, the family artist and creator of Windstone’s mythological bestiary.
So long Hollywood
For several decades Windstone pilgrims made their way to North Hollywood, Cal. But in August, John and Melody completed an arduous relocation to the Pacific Northwest. It took eight months and 20 trucks to carry the Windstone factory and all the family’s possessions north through the mountains to Corvallis, Oregon – my city – on the western edge of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley.
Welcome to the Micrometro
Discovering Windstone in Corvallis is like finding a diamond among rhinestones, or a rare orchid blooming among dandelions. Windstone at first seemed incongruously out of place here, and yet it fits. Corvallis is as rare a city as Windstone is a business.
Corvallis is a Micrometro – a little city with a big city mindset. It is best known for Oregon State University and a waning Hewlett-Packard site, home of HP’s inkjet computing. Because Interstate 5 bypassed Corvallis in the early 1970s, the town has remained a compact, well-centered community – a rare place where a person could live their entire life within a 30 minute walk of downtown.
John and Melody had been spending part of their time in Corvallis for years, coming here first to visit friends, then vacationing here, buying property and finally uprooting their lives and business and transplanting them here.
So here was Windstone (a rare business) in Corvallis (a rare city) gearing up to produce the works of Melody Peña (a rare artist). Rarely does a writer find an opportunity like this. I had to know more.
Warren Volkmann, Writer