About iLoveToCreate

iLoveToCreate®, a Duncan Enterprises Company, is a privately-held, family-owned, Fresno, California based company that has been a leader in the ceramics arts and crafts industries since 1946.
Our History »

Our Vision

Mission

We make it easy to experience creativity.

Strategy

Develop innovative products and solutions through win-win partnerships.

Guiding Principles

  1. Practice high ethical standards
  2. Respect people and their ideas
  3. Use education, training and recognition to empower team members
  4. Embrace constant change, improvement and innovation
  5. Be socially and environmentally responsible
  6. Achieve continuous long-term success and profitability for all stakeholders

Erma Duncan - Founder

Erma Duncan

Women go everywhere and do everything now, up to and including training as astronauts and being seated as a Supreme Court Justice. Their achievements are not lessened by recognition of the fact that the pioneering efforts of previous generations of women have made their way easier. One such pioneer is Erma Duncan, founder of Duncan Enterprises [now called iLoveToCreate].
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Bob Duncan

Bob Duncan

The career history of Robert E. Duncan, better known in Fresno as Bob Duncan, is synonymous with Duncan Ceramics [now called iLoveToCreate]. It is the story of a garage-based family hobby, which became the largest hobby ceramic product manufacturing company in the world.
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Our History

 

It started with a dream . . . Erma Duncan was a talented artist who enjoyed sharing her gift with everyone. Her love for fired art began at a very young age, as did her natural ability to share her knowledge. Erma began teaching while still in her teens. Her first national recognition for her artwork came in the early 1900s. It was customary for artists at that time to send their work into popular magazines hosting contests for artists, such as the Saturday Evening Post. Top prizes included cash and musical instruments. Erma won so many awards she had enough instruments to start a small orchestra!

Eventually, Erma set up a studio and began teaching ceramics from her home. Before long, her husband Lee and sons Bob and Dick also became involved. As the sessions grew, the garage was expanded to accommodate more people and supplies. In 1940, Erma joined her son Bob as a student at Fresno State College and began taking all available ceramics classes.

In 1946, the business outgrew the garage, so the first official Duncan Ceramic Studio was opened on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno, California. The company also began to operate as a wholesale distributor, with Bob handling the marketing and sales of the business, Erma the art and teaching, and Dick the designing and manufacturing. In 1949, Dick formulated the first nonsettling glaze the first of its kind in the ceramics industry.

In 1955, Duncan became a corporation with Bob as President, Dick as Vice President and Erma as Secretary-Treasurer. The company continued to prosper and, in 1961, Duncan Ceramic Products, Inc., relocated to its present-day site.

After 23 years of sharing her ceramics knowledge with others, Erma retired from active participation in the company in 1965. In 1976, the company changed its name to Duncan Enterprises, reflecting its continued growth & expansion. In 1983, the third generation of the Duncan family took over when Bob's son Larry was promoted to President and Bob became Chairman of the Board.

For nearly 70 years, Duncan Enterprises has been a leading arts and crafts manufacturer. In July 2009, Duncan Enterprises changed its name to iLoveToCreate®, a Duncan Enterprises Company. iLoveToCreate remains committed to its core of ceramic arts with the industry-leading brand, Duncan®. iLoveToCreate leads the craft industry with comprehensive Fashion Art programs under the Tulip®, Scribbles®, Puffy® and Rainbow Rock® brands and a comprehensive glue and adhesives program under the Aleene's® brand name. The company also produces products that celebrate Hispanic heritage via the Crafty Chica® brand.

Today, iLoveToCreate is one of the largest ceramic arts, crafting adhesives and fashion art manufacturers in the world with its ongoing reputation for excellence in product development, quality, education and health & safety.

Erma Duncan — Founder

Erma Duncan

Erma Duncan and Family
Erma Duncan
  An edited portion of an original article published in Ceramics Magazine, September 1982

ERMA DUNCAN, Pioneer of Hobby Ceramics…

Women go everywhere and do everything now, up to and including training as astronauts and being seated as a Supreme Court Justice. Their achievements are not lessened by recognition of the fact that the pioneering efforts of previous generations of women have made their way easier. One such pioneer is Erma Duncan, founder of Duncan Enterprises [now called iLoveToCreate].

Ceramics didn’t exist as a hobby when Erma Duncan began making her first ceramics more than 40 years ago. The glazes and underglazes then available were intended for factory mass production of finished ware, kilns were primitive and unreliable, and an independent ceramics artist had to deal with innumerable problems, such as incompatible clay bodies and glazes.

Erma didn’t set out to be a pioneer. Like all artists of vision, she wanted to create her own beautiful concepts in the medium of her choice. In the process of discovering solutions that raised ceramics to a leisure art form that amateurs could enjoy, Erma encountered so many requests for instruction in her hobby that she began teaching at home, and later founded Duncan Enterprises. Her efforts were ably and aided by her husband, Lee, and her sons, Bob and Dick, and the guiding principal of the Duncan family enterprise was that reliable quality products could and should be made available to hobbyist.

We are proud to salute Erma Duncan, pioneer of hobby ceramics.

(The following is Erma’s story in her own words, captured in 1982)

"It wasn’t hobby ceramics when I started, just ceramics, and factory ceramics at that. I heard about ceramics from a cousin in Los Angeles. I went to Los Angeles by train and took three lessons from a factory worker. I made my first piece…a bowl that I modeled by hand and cut out in a pierced-work design. It had a crackled glaze and was very nice for a first effort. The clays were cruder than the ceramic slip available today and there were no studios and no colors for hobbyists. No one knew anything about ceramics except for the finished ware manufacturers who wouldn’t share their knowledge with anyone. Everything was considered to be a trade secret. Underglazes were just powdered colors that had to be mixed and glazes had to be made from frit. Kilns were clumsy and unreliable. I had to work out everything for myself."

"I’ve always been a painter. My mother’s hobby was china painting and I learned that and watercolor painting from her. As a young girl, before I married, I gave china painting and watercolor lessons in several of the small towns around Fresno. After I’d learned how to cope with the difficulties, I sold finished ware to Fresno stores and gave people lessons. But the actual business started in our studio on Blackstone Avenue. All of the techniques we use today in Duncan’s magazine are the result of those early trial-and-error davys. Lace draping is one of the most dramatic of all decorating techniques. Cotton lace and fabrics can be draped, even gathered with a needle and cotton thread. The new synthetics won’t work, of course, because they melt. Only natural fibers leave a memory in the clay. The big differences are the development of brushes for every decorating purpose and easy-to-use Underglazes. With the correct brush, even a beginner can quickly learn to decorate in a professional manner. My son, Dick, developed the first non-settling glazes. Duncan was the first to make homogenized, suspended glazes that wouldn’t settle. Before then, it was so difficult to glaze that we used to dip pieces for customers because their brushed-on results were so poor. Our first product that we sold was press molds. Other studio owners who saw them wanted to sell them to their customers. That was the start of our Duncan Distributors. After that, we set up distributors all over the United States."

Bob Duncan

Bob Duncan

Bob Duncan and Family

Board Member Emeritus of Duncan Enterprises

The career history of Robert E. Duncan, better known in Fresno as Bob Duncan, is synonymous with Duncan Ceramics, which became iLoveToCreate. It is the story of a garage-based family hobby, which became the largest hobby ceramic product manufacturing company in the world.

Fresno residents know iLoveToCreate, a Duncan Enterprises Company, as the facility with the beautiful, brightly colored ceramic murals located on 20 acres just east of Clovis Avenue on Shields Avenue. It all began in 1938 when Erma Duncan took up ceramics as a hobby. Before long, her husband, Lee, and sons, Bob and Dick, also became interested and involved. They built an addition to their garage and began the serious pursuit of ceramics knowledge.

In 1940, Erma joined her son, Bob, as a student at Fresno State College and began taking all available ceramic classes. During the early 40's Erma started holding ceramic-making sessions in her garage. The entire Duncan family, including Bob, became involved. World War II came along and the family ceramic plans were interrupted as Bob joined the Army and served three and one-half years in the Army Medical Administration reaching the rank of an Army Lieutenant by the time the war ended. When Bob returned home from the war, he decided to devote his full time and attention to his mother's ceramic business. The interest in hobby ceramics among friends and relatives became so great that the garage operation was no longer sufficient to accommodate everyone.

By 1946, an official Duncan Ceramic Studio was established on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno. The ceramic business grew rapidly, catering to the retail trade, and it started to develop as a wholesale distributor with Bob handling the sales and marketing, his mother dedicated to teaching and his brother Dick ran manufacturing. In May 1953, fire destroyed the entire studio, but fortunately the business records, books and secret glaze formulas were saved. As plans were made to rebuild, the Duncan family decided to concentrate on the manufacturing and national distribution of ceramic materials rather than retail sales. Tents were set up and business began once more under canvas while the new facilities were constructed.

In 1955, the company was incorporated as Duncan Ceramic Products, Inc., with Bob as President. Continued growth once again found the business too big for its location on Blackstone. In 1961, Duncan Ceramic Products moved to its present location on Shields Avenue. By then, the company was well established. In the early 1960's, Bob was instrumental in the founding of the first national organization in the Hobby Ceramics industry. The National Ceramic Manufacturing Association, which represented 80 manufacturers from across the United States, was founded in 1962 with Bob Duncan as their first three year President. He continued to serve on their Board of Directors through 1983 and has been chairman of many of the organizations' committees over the years. The company continued to expand its influence, establishing many "firsts" in the ceramics field. In 1968, under Bob's leadership, Duncan introduced the first teachers' certification program in the field of hobby ceramics. It gained immediate acceptance and still today, certification by Duncan is known as the hallmark of ceramics knowledge. Today more than 38,000 studio owners and teachers have successfully passed the stringent written and practical tests to become Certified Duncan Teachers. Duncan's monthly magazine, Ceramics, with Bob Duncan as Editor, began publication in October, 1971.

The first ceramics magazine to concentrate on the needs and wants of consumers, it gained immediate acceptance and outlived several imitators. With approximately 100,000 copies a month and worldwide circulation, the magazine was "With Ceramists Every Step of the Way," providing beautiful ceramic projects with easy step-by-step directions, "how-to" articles, and helpful special features. In 1976, the company changed its name from Duncan Ceramic Products, Inc., to Duncan Enterprises, reflecting its continued growth and diversification into the crafts industry. Bob Duncan continued as President of Duncan Enterprises, introducing a full line of electric ceramic kilns this same year. The third generation of the Duncan family took over Duncan Enterprises in 1983 when Bob's son, Larry, was appointed President of the company by unanimous decision of the Board of Directors following Bob's decision to move up to the position of Chairman of the Board.

Bob Duncan is proud to be a member of the Fresno community. He is one of the most passionate and loyal Fresno State supporters and has been honored on multiple occasions for his time, service and financial support, including the athletic facility being named the Robert E. Duncan Athletic Building, an Honorary Doctorate Degree bestowed to him in 1996 and the 1st recipient of the Bulldog Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an Honorary Life Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fresno County.

A quote from a letter written by Robert S. Miner of the Fresno Regional Foundation when he endorsed Bob for the 1985 Leon S. Peters Award sums it up very well: "I have admired the leadership and community pride exhibited by Bob in his many civic activities. He is proud of Fresno and is generous with his assets, time and personal leadership in a wide variety of services. By personal contact, I give special mention to the Fresno Convention Bureau, the Bulldog Foundation, and his donation to the Roeding Park Zoo. I have worked with him at the Fresno Rotary Club and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum, where he is a director. Bob is also, currently a member of the Board of Governors of the Fresno Regional Foundation, a community-based conduit of private sector charitable funds. He is of a special service in his guidance relating to the investments of the Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to 'enhance the quality of life in the Fresno area.' It is my observation that this statement exemplifies the personal and public example of Robert E. Duncan. He and his business activities are a prime example of enlightened and responsible free enterprise. To each organization in which he serves, he brings his expertise in business, his wide range of interest, his love for people and his pride in this community."

The Duncan Family

The Duncan Family
 

We are a family-owned business that was started by my grandmother Erma Duncan in 1946. She enjoyed and used many artistic mediums, such as watercolors and oils, but her number one love was always the ceramic arts. The transformation of the ceramic piece during the firing process completely captivated her—a true ugly duckling to beautiful swan story!

She grew from eager hobbyist and student, to enthusiastic teacher, to successful studio owner, then distributor and finally manufacturer. The very first teacher and studio business actually began in the family garage!

The business quickly grew and, with the constant support of my grandfather Lee Duncan and my father Bob Duncan and Uncle Dick Duncan, it evolved from studio to distributorship to developing our own quality formulas and producing and selling our manufactured products first domestically, then internationally.

I officially joined the company when I was 15 years old, working part-time in almost all the different departments throughout high school and college. I became President in 1983 and Chairman in 2012. Today, our children Hawk and Summer are also learning the family business, adding a 4th generation to this story.

We have maintained our focus over the years on the joys of creative expression, innovation and consistent quality products, combined with education and premium customer service. We know it is not just one of these things, but all of these things that ultimately enable you to experience the true joy of creativity and realize your own part in living a creative life.

We truly believe in our Mission Statement that Duncan makes it Easy to Experience Creativity. We start every leadership meeting here at Duncan with our Mission Statement, and it drives our actions on a daily basis. This is the real gift from my grandmother that we are privileged to provide to you today.

Our website www.ilovetocreate.com celebrates our goal of providing you with creative inspiration, clear and easy directions, and education to grow your love of creativity with others. We hope you share what you’re creating, and continue to enjoy and trust the quality of our products.

We'd love to hear from you!


Larry Duncan
Chairman of the Board

Executive Staff

Larry Duncan

Larry Duncan

Chairman, Duncan Enterprises (Parent Company of iLoveToCreate)

Larry Duncan has worked in the family business all of his life, becoming President & CEO in 1983. He is completely dedicated to the consumer and to ensuring they have a joyful creative experience with all of our products and programs. He has led the charge to diversify the company and expand via acquisitions, while also growing organically via proprietary creative product development. With his experience in all facets of the company operations, he set the course for strategic direction and driven constant changes, improvement and innovation company-wide. With Bob's retirement in 2012, Larry now serves as Chairman of the Board. Duncan is an active community supporter, currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Fresno County.


Lawrence Hermansen

Lawrence Hermansen

President and Chief Operating Officer, Duncan Enterprises

Larry Hermansen is a Craft industry veteran, bringing nearly 30 years of leadership expertise to Duncan Enterprises. Most recently he served as the General Manager of E.K.Success Brands in Kansas City, the paper craft division of parent company Wilton Brands. Prior to Wilton, Larry spent 13 years developing and operating two creative consumer product companies that he eventually sold, and six years as an owner/partner of Chatterbox LLC with responsibilities for sales & marketing. Larry has a deep understanding of the DIY industry, the creative consumer and best-in-class business practices and culture.


Keith Martino

Keith Martino

Senior Vice President of Operations, Duncan Enterprises

Keith Martino has more than 25 years of operations, marketing and sales experience working for U.S., European and Japanese companies, with extensive international operations and general management experience. He has been with Duncan Enterprises for more than five years with responsibility for manufacturing, quality control and product compliance, sourcing and procurement, vendor partnerships, planning and forecasting and warehouse, inventory and distribution. Martino earned a BS degree in Business Statistics from Penn State University.

Mark Peters

Mark Peters

Vice Chairman, Duncan Enterprises

Mark Peters has 31 years of marketing, sales, and general management experience. He has been with Duncan Enterprises since 1993, leading both marketing and sales groups before becoming COO in 2006 and President in 2011. Prior to Duncan Enterprises, Peters spent six years in consumer packaged goods marketing with The Clorox Company and nine years in marketing & sales positions for Specialty Brands, the marketers of brands like Fleischmann’s Yeast and Spice Islands Spices. Peters received his BS degree in Food Science from University of California at Davis in 1977 and his MBA from the University of California Berkeley in 1981. In between his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Peters worked for Contadina Foods as quality control manager.