One summer day in 2016, lifelong artist Deborah Duncan began searching for a new creative pursuit to kick off her recent retirement from a long career as a teacher at Neshoba Central High School in Philadelphia, Miss., and at Armstrong Middle School in Starkville, Miss. Duncan, who had long enjoyed painting portraits of friends and family in her free time, took to YouTube in search of ideas for new painting techniques and came across a video detailing acrylic pouring techniques.
Acrylic pouring involves combining normal acrylic paints with a chemical pouring medium to liquify the paint, then pouring the resulting mixture onto a surface or object to create swirls of different colors that stick to whatever they were poured upon as it dries.
Duncan quickly took to the new technique and painted a number of canvases which she showed to her daughter, Brandi Herrington, and son-in-law, Josh Herrington. Intrigued with the abstract, vibrantly colored canvases Duncan showed them, the two decided to visit the Cotton District Art Festival in Starkville and other art shows later that year in hopes of researching the technique further. Duncan also sold pieces she created at the festival, an endeavor that proved successful for her. Demand quickly grew, and the three decided to officially open a home-operated business called Dunkington in fall of 2016, primarily selling their acrylic poured wares at other art festivals in the Starkville area.
From Festivals to Brick-and-Mortar Storefront
Before joining his wife and mother-in-law in operating Dunkington, Josh Herrington had spent 21 years working as a detailer for Starkville-based metal building manufacturer Gulf State Manufacturers, where he drew up plans for metal structures such as sheds and shopping centers.
When the business closed down in 2020, Herrington took a severance package and put the money toward opening a storefront for Dunkington, which had by that point begun producing more items than a 10-by-10-foot booth at local festivals could hold. The building Herrington chose had once housed a clothing store on Main Street in downtown Starkville.
“We started calling ourselves ‘Starkville’s Most Unique Boutique’ because the process of acrylic pouring itself ensures that even when using the same process, we won’t ever end up making identical pieces,” Josh Herrington says. “At first we were mostly making wall art, but we soon realized that a lot of people in the South already have enough things hanging on their walls, so we decided to branch out into what I like to think of as more ‘functional’ art pieces.”
Today, Dunkington uses their acrylic pouring techniques on everything from drink coasters and wine glasses to jewelry, salt and pepper shakers, cutting boards and other homeware items. Dunkington also produces its own line of handmade candles and partners with Fleur De Lis Flowers & Gifts in Starkville to craft art pieces made from dried flowers preserved in resin.
The shop also contains a 1,000-square-foot gallery that Duncan and the Herringtons rent out for other artists to use as temporary gallery space or for events. Dunkington also organizes paint parties where participants get to paint small wooden objects or canvases and take them home after the party.
“From the start we wanted to be part of a more niche market with what we do here,” Herrington says. “We’re willing to try out anything we can pour on and are just enjoying what we’re doing here each and every day. I don’t necessarily consider myself an artist by trade, but you don’t really need to be a professional to make a good pouring piece, just a sense of colors and how they work together.”
The Herringtons have been married for 24 years and have an 11-year-old son named Parker Herrington.
For more information on Dunkington, call 662.617.8025, visit dunkington.com or email email@example.com.