Last weekend was the big Flame Off weekend and my travels started last wednesday. You might think that going from Germany to England is not such a big deal, but my trip to Uttoxeter took me 11hrs and back home it even has been 12hrs. We have a small airport close to where I live, but actually there are barely flights departing from it. Or if they do, they are extremly expensice. So most of the time it just makes more sense to hop on a train and go to Frankfurt.
In Frankfurt I got "special treatment" this time, as I tried to bring a shampoo bottle with me that contained more than 100ml. With me travelling that much one would think I should know by now that no liquids are allowed in the carry on. ... but actually as I never really had a carry on before I did not know that or thought this is only a rule for international flights. Turns out, it's not and they are not cool about that at all.
After all the excitment those travels have to offer I finally arrived at the racecourse in Uttoxeter, where the Flame Off took place this year. Thursday was the big workshop day. JC Herrell, Michal Silberberg and me each had one class with each 12 students. The funny thing was that our teaching tables have been placed in the same room, which I thought could get a little noisy. But it didn't. We have all been so focused on our own lessons, that we had barely any interactions with the other groups (in a good way).
Friday and Saturday the event was open for all exibitors, suppliers and visitors. Michal, JC, Helen and me all had one live demo in stage on both days and a booth where we got to sell our beads and of course met lots of lovely bead people.
Sunday was the day of our departure. JC and me left from Birmingham airport and I had like 4,5 hrs to kill there. So I kept buying food and magazines, just to keep myself busy. The most excitement happend to me again during security, when I realized I spilled my orange juice bootle in my purse and onto my cell phone and laptop. That made me a bit insane for a short moment, until I got to the wash room and had time to clean it all up and check if my electronic devices are still working (they do!).
After a trip like that you need a few days off to unpack, relax and do ordinary things like laundry and checking mail. Besides that I also got myself a little cold and so I rest a little longer. Even though I would like to add more beads to my Etsy shop or sit at the torch, I better keep myself on the couch today.
This year's UK Flame Off is coming up soon and I'm a small part of it as a teacher for a one-day-class ... and I'm doing a live demo on stage, which scares me a bit. I'm not super excited about having a mic attached and cameras looking at me - but it's going to work out, I'm sure. I made up my mind what to show and it's going to be a little combination where I focus on some techniques mixed together in a small cube shaped bead.
It will be great to meet other flame workers, buy supplies and just get to know each other by exchanging ideas and tricks. I'm personally also looking forward to meet the other teachers, Helen Gorick, Michal Silberberg and JC Herrell.
I thought, this would be a great occasion to have a little pre-Flame-Off-chat with JC and share it with you. I'm sure most of you know her name and her work, but her bio sounds pretty interesting to me. JC Herrell was born and raised in Wisconsin and has been a student of art since childhood. During her adolescence JC received formal art training from various instructors and local artists, as well as at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. In college she studied philosophy at the University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh, leading to a first career as a corporate trainer. JC began to teach herself lampworking in 2000. By January 2005, addicted to melting glass and having established the roots of her current business, she began making beads full time. The decision to dedicate her total energy to learning the craft and business of beadmaking allowed for a self-education revolution for JC who soon found additional energy from the advise and inspiration of her peers. After exploring and learning to work enamels on lampwork beads, JC began teaching enamel workshops and classes in 2007. Her fondness for enamel was quickly surpassed by a desire to control stringer and create designs with fine, straight lines inspired by a long history of architectural interest. In 2010 JC began sharing her stringer skills in the form of workshops and the online tutorial project, “The Joy of Stringer". JC currently works from a home studio on the Mendocino coast in northern California.
"It is my first time teaching at the Flame Off, or attending it. I'm looking forward to it. I was just at Diana East's in the UK and Iris Schaefer's in Germany last summer so I'm really looking forward to reuniting with new friends from those adventures and old friend from previous trips to Germany and the Netherlands. I've been hearing about the Flame Off for years so everything put together, I'm really excited!"
As JC travels and teaches a lot, I was wondering if she - as an american coming to europe - feels, that there are differences between the lampworking scene over there and over here.
"I don't think so. Glass is glass. Humans are humans. There is a difference in me, I have to focus more on my communication, so I'm less ... whimsical and I probably do a better job in communication here. So any differences I see, I blame on me being the different one."
I met JC once at a bead show in Arizona and we talked only briefly as she had so many customers at her booth. I watched her talking to them and was totally impressed of how professional and outgoing she's been in that moment. I personally find it super hard to make those sale talks about something that I made myself and that represends me so much. So instead of saying smart things, I'd rather walk away and let other people do the talking. I wish I would be better in these things, but I'm not.
So how come you don't have that obstacle at all? Did you ever take classes to learn that skill?
"I do have those obstacles. I think it's really common to dislike selling ones own work. If I think about what I'm doing behind my sales table as sales, it become painful quickly. But I love taking about shop life or about my beads or the direction I want to take in my craft or how a certain style developed or what challenges I'm working on or about the techniques I use or the creative process. I'm super excited by all those things, and talking about any of that seems more enjoyable than selling for everyone involved. Did I have a class to learn that? No. And yes... I come from a long background of debate, public speaking, corporate training... And let's not forget waitressing. All of that makes a person get used to talking."
These beautiful beads are from JC, also the photo and you find her work on www.jcherrell.com
The Flame Off is on the 11th & 12th April, so my Etsy shop will be closed during that time and probably a few days before and after. Maybe see you there?