New Gallery and Workshop Project
We finished a very sucessful summer on the canals at the floating market in the centre of Birmingham, where we not only met up with other traders, but also with the top brass of the Canal and River Trust (CRT). This was particularly usuful for us, as on return to Hawne Basin we were to complete on the purchase of our second boat! The intention is to refit this boat as a Gallery and Workshop.
This is a very exciting project for us, the aim is to have a Gallery on the boat, so that our customers can come aboard to view our jewellery, in all weathers, rather than standing on the towpath, and to provide us with a bigger workshop. Additional workshop space will give us the opportunity to run courses aboard the boat at various locations around the canal system, so watch this space if you are interested in learning how we make our jewellery.
This 'New' boat is 25 years old and in need of a complete refit in order to make it into 'THE GLASS BARGE'. We completed the purchase on 1st October and she was craned out of the water onto the hardstanding on 1st November.
Andrew has started the process of stripping out the interior and Tony (boat builder) is remodelling the stern and bow for us. It is going to be a lot of work and take up much of our time, but we hope the result will be worthwhile.
We will try to post progress pictures as we go so that you can see the transformation as it happens.
Summer 2013 Cruise
We are out again cruising and selling on the canals, but this time the weather has been glorious sunshine, so far, although, at this very moment, we are having a summer downpour!
We traded in Birmingham last weekend and are now on the Grand Union at Long Itchington, outside The Two Boats pub (actually we personally are inside keeping dry and having a well earned drink & a meal).
Next week we will be making our way along the Grand Union, stopping to trade at any likely spot. Braunston is a likely stop on the way towards Blissworth for the canal festival (10th & 11th August).
A new booking, just confirmed, is for the Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival on the August bank holiday weekend at Cheltenham racecourse. We are very excited about this as we have been associated with this in previous years as members of the festival fire crew.
Fused Glass Jewellery on the Move
We started our Spring cruise in the week before Easter, with the intension of trading over the Easter weekend in Birmingham, but, having arrived at the boat in snow and ice on the basin, we decided it was not practical. So the first week was spent in cruising in very cold windy weather, arriving in the Ashby canal on Friday.
The weather has now cheered up a bit and we spent the day at Sutton Wharf on the Ashby Canal. This is near Bosworth field, where there is a visitor centre for people visiting the battle site.
We will head up to the end of the navigable section of the Ashby before heading into Coventry next weekend.
Into the New Year
Having survived the pre-Christmas round of craft fairs and farmers market, we come into January and February, which we treat as a quiet time for experimenting and developing new styles and techniques. We are moving our home studio (only to another room), and this will allow us to use our cold working power tools more easily. They all cut or grind in water and tend to make a mess, so we will now have a dedicated area with its own sink. All very mundane, but even the most sparkly glass jewellery requires a bit of hard work and mess in the making! Pam is already experimenting in the new studio on some “heart” jewellery ready for Valentine’s Day, while I am still fixing shelves and cupboards. Over the holiday we visited our daughter in Manchester and we visited Chorlton, where we we.re very impressed with the Tapas bar and with Creative Recycling, a craft studio which, as you might guess, sprang from a desire to recycle all sorts of things, including glass. They do a small amount of jewellery but some very nice fused glass wall art at reasonable prices.
We are now trying to plan our 2013 itinerary, there are lots of craft fairs and canal events we would like to get to, but the rate of travel on a narrowboat and their location means some hard decisions have to be made. On the non-canal front we would like to do Chippenham and Tenterden Folk Festival, which we did last year and Greenbelt festival, which we love, but haven’t taken the glass to yet. More to come on this!
From Windmill End to Mile End
We always intended to move onto our narrowboat, but didn’t want to wait until we retired like many others, so the glass jewellery making offered a chance to make a small living and a challenge at the same time. The timescale was flexible and there were always important things to do first.
British Waterways delivered a sharp kick up the backside! As our boat was licensed for trading, we received an enquiry in early 2012 – would we be interested in joining a 6 week floating market near an Olympic live site in London? We knew we had to go; this was everything we planned for rolled into one big package. The plans were at a very early stage and our contact at BW, Sarah, had to sort out all the complications, planning applications, health & safety, water shortages, facilities boats, new water points and heaven knows what else while answering emails from us asking what’s happening. Finally, the details became clear; 4 weeks at Mile End Park (20.7.12 to 16.7.12) and 2 weeks at Little Venice (20.8.12 to 2.9.12).
Now we had to get ourselves, the boat and the glass ready. We are both self-employed so we had to arrange our day jobs so that we can leave for 10 weeks. The boat had to be adapted for full time glass making, a new kiln bought and installed, the power supply secured and a workshop created in a boat that’s called narrow for good reason. The boat had to be made suitable for continuous living aboard not just holidays, and moved from Birmingham to London. Of course, we would have to build up stock of glass jewellery to cover any possible demand. Last of all, our cat, Charlie, would have to learn how to be a boat cat!