Organised by Totally Beads and Tuffnells Glass, Flame Off is the highlight of the lampwork lovers UK calender.
Hosted at Uttoexter Racecourse, well situated in the heart of England and easy to get to by car or public transport thanks to the train station within walking distance of the venue. It isn’t the most modern of facilities but they provide the show with four well sized areas and a dining area.
There is plenty of car parking but you do have a slight walk from the car to the entrance which can be a disadvantage when you are leaving with loads of goodies (though this year the venue were allowing cars to drive into the grounds for collections.) You could take a shopper trolley of your own to prevent having to go back to the car every so often.
Cash Machine, yes there is one on site but it does charge you for the privilege, some of the vendors do cashback when you bought something but tesco and free cash machines were a short drive away.
As you enter the show the dining area is immediately in front of you, this is run by the racecourse themselves and does have a nice selection. I did enquire about allergens and they are happy to help if you have certain allergies but they also don’t mind anyone sitting with their own food as it isn’t always possible to cater for everyone’s needs. There was certainly plenty on offer though but as I am one of those full of allergy types I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the food. (Actually I barely got a chance to sample the food I bought with me either, I was on the go so much.)
To the right of the dining area is the first of the stalls, a few lampworkers, some fusing and a selection of suppliers this was an area I didn’t get into much (as I was in the other hall) but it was easy to move around and I managed to get what I wanted and say hello to a few people.
If you go through the doors at the end of the first hall you come to an open space where you can access the upstairs and demo space if you have an access all areas ticket ahead is a door leading to the second and third hall.
The second hall was host to more stalls, a couple of general beading stalls, more lampworkers, a few supplies and the demo artists stalls were here to so those on buyer only tickets could browse their items as well.
The third hall runs on from the second and is where you find Tuffnells and the benches to have a go on the torches. The torches were only open to those that purchased an access all areas ticket but they could get really crowded after demos as people wanted to try out the techniques they had just seen. The artists also took to the benches as people found they had questions which always prompted a little gathering.
Most of the benches were set up for soft glass though there was a boro only bench for those that prefer to work on the dark side. Glenn spent a lot of time coming back here and showing off a few different things.
Marshals were on hand to light torches and ensure everyone was practising safe lampworking, they were also on hand for those having a go at lampwork for the first time guiding them through making their first bead. Tins of annealing bubbles meant that after half an hour your beads were ready to take out and remove from the mandrels so you could take them home.
I would have liked a go on the Bethlehem Champion (or even the bravo) but as there was only one of each of these torches I didn’t get a chance. (maybe next year) Though I suppose it may have been a good thing as I might have had to buy one if I had got a go on it.
Beyond that was a door to the outside where Mini Melt had the furnace going and you could have a go at blowing glass yourself to make a bauble. (something I did a couple of years ago and loved, my son enjoyed it the previous year too.) You could choose your own colours and blow it yourself with the guidance of Ann and Josh, they went in the kiln Friday for collection on the Saturday.
The Demo Hall
Last year all the demoing artists also had their tables up here but not having them there allowed for more seating and made the hall a lot quieter so you could hear everything going on in the demo. Lewis does a super job following the demos with the video camera to project to the screen for those further back to be able to see. I got lucky this year and for the one demo I did see (Glenn doing silver fuming) I got a front row seat.
One of the reasons I love flame off is the atmosphere. Everyone is there for the same reasons, to enjoy the glass. This year I even witnessed partners attempting the torch for the first time so that was a huge credit to the atmosphere of the show and the fantastic marshals on the torches making it accessible to those that weren’t really sure.
Everyone is always really friendly and helpful and it’s always brilliant meeting up with familiar faces as well as meeting new people.
Comparing it to last year it certainly seemed like there was a lot more people and because of the buyer only tickets there were also people coming in just to buy beads. Loosing the Sunday bead fair was sad because it meant we didn’t have that extra day but it certainly worked better.
The show really is a must if you love lampwork, either making it or using it, just make sure you keep an eye on your budget, you can easily go over, with all the wonderful glass, tools and lovely, lovely beads.
List of Traders at Flame Off
List is in order they appeared at the show.