For 16-17 April I was in Towcester (which I was informed after I got back is pronounced toaster…) for the UK’s annual Flame Off, which is organised by Martin at Tuffnell Glass. I had a wonderful two days! It’s held at Towcester Racecourse and consisted of a bottom floor of stalls selling glassy goodies – rods, tools, frit, presses and of course beads – plus a large tent attached to the side with lots of torches available for anyone to have a go on. On the first floor there was a large hall where glass artists were giving demos throughout the day, being filmed and shown on large projector screens (there were also small screens downstairs). I was wearing my Frit-Happens! name badge, and there were a *lot* of us there!
I travelled there via Northampton by train then bus, and stayed overnight in the Towcester Silverstone Travelodge. Next year I’m going to try to arrive on Thursday night and stay for two, so I can be in there right at the start :)
Demo-wise, on the first day I saw the end of Sharon Peters’ goblin heads demo, the second half of Teresa Laliberte’s goddess demo, and all of Sabine’s rose demo. I think the whole room went wow at her “here I grow a third hand” manoeuvre!
Teresa (LavenderCreek)’s goddess beads are beautiful. I’d seen pictures of some of them, but they do really need to be seen in person. They’re so much more delicate than photos make them look! I didn’t really ‘get’ goddess beads before – I could appreciate the skill that went into them, but the finished object didn’t grab me. Now I want one and I also think her tutorial for them may be making its way into my shopping basket soon!
I stayed for the charity auction that was held after the rest of the event closed. More hilarity than your usual auction! I didn’t bid on anything, but some people picked up bargains.
The weather was gorgeous both days – just as well because it takes a good 45mins to walk from the racecourse to the travelodge, and I was trundling my wheely trolley full of glass along behind me.
I had a go on a Cricket and a Minor on the second day, and have probably blasphemed by preferring the Minor! I liked that it felt more solid and was less sensitive to adjust. Hopefully I can have another go on both somewhere when I have more experience and want to get a new torch, but that won’t be for a while – I’m fairly sure I’d be happy on a Minor though, which does simplify things!
(For those who don’t know, Minors are easy to get hold of and known for being unfussy and pretty rugged. Crickets are made by a small American company called GTT, whose torches are held by many to be the best you can get. Crickets were also designed to be run on a single oxygen concentrator so they can give a much hotter flame than other small torches on the same equipment. But they’re hard to get hold of, particularly in the UK – apparently the ones Tuffnell’s had at the Flame Off were ordered a year ago! – and slightly more expensive, and they have to be cleaned frequently. Minors run better on bottled oxygen, which is what the Flame Off ones were on, but they’ll work on an oxycon too, and they’re more or less the default next step after a Hot Head, by virtue of being common and relatively cheap. I’m not convinced I would need the extra heat from a Cricket, and I also prefer a slightly bushier flame – Crickets are very pinpoint. But yeah, the plan is to try some again after I know more about what kind of beads I want to end up making! I reserve the right to change my mind :p)
My score for the weekend runs at:
Pre-orders from both Tuffnell’s and Off-Mandrel picked up
Sample pack of Plowden & Thompson 100 CoE, plus clear and black
Single rods of Reichenbach 96 from P&T
Lentil Trio from Maria-Louisa (www.beadpress.nl)
BeadySam frit from Maria-Louisa
Beads from Fyrebirds and Kate Sullivan
Rods I was swapping in the FH glass swap
Single rods of CiM from Off-Mandrel, plus a rod of TAG Taxco Silver Turquoise
Reichenbach Ocean and Mystic Grey-Blue from Tuffnell’s
Frit from Jolene (Kitzbitz Art Glass)
Annealing bubbles, 5mm mandrel, silicon carbide grit and a Japanese shaping tool from Manda (Mango Beads)
Mixed pack of murrini from Kaz (Cheeky Cherub Designs)
Kaz very kindly did murrini and shard blowing demos for us and gave us samples of what she made. There’s a photo of me watching taken by Richard Downton – he was doing unofficial photography duties the whole weekend. Go back a few pictures and you can see the shard blowing. I’ve started practising with some commercial murrini so I have a better chance of not ruining Kaz’s when I use them!
I think I had more to say, but it’s taken me so long to get round to finishing this post that I’ve entirely forgotten :p
It was a wonderful weekend and I will be back next year.