Tuesday, September 2, 2008


It is really wonderful to be home after spending about one week in Stourbridge, UK. I went there to teach two days of lampworking and thereafter three days of sales of my beads at the Bead Fair. The classes went well and it was very technical and not so much about making beads to bring home. Beads, they can do at home but the techniques on eg when and how to pull the twistie out of its glob needs to be practised on. The workshop participants were very nice and I had thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and of course I hope to meet them again in the near future.

The bead fair went very well on the first day for me and then I must admit I could have packed up and gone home on the second and third day. It was awfully quiet on the third day and less vendors as the organizers allowed us to choose the number of days we wanted to sign up for. That is highly unusual and of course definitely not my cuppa tea. This may have been my last time at Stourbridge. I shan't be taking part next year since the fair is on its own and the International Glass Festival is held every two years. The bead fair by itself is not reputable enough to draw in enough visitors.

On the more personal side, there will be major or minor changes - depending on how you'd view it - at home. Our elder daughter, Cara, has been accepted at several universities in Germany and has decided to major in Life Sciences at the Leibniz Universität Hannover (I call it the 'Biscuit University' as Leibniz is a German company making biscuits and cookies). She starts college in a few weeks and yes, she will be moving out of home!! Yikes, it hit me a few days ago that once she leaves home, she leaves home 'for good'!! Sure, she'd be home on the weekends and during the semester breaks but golly, after 18 years it will be markedly differently at home without her! It's both a joy to see your child grow up but quite painful when it's time for her to leave the nest - I suppose I'm not the only mum who feels this way.

We have found her a lovely little flat right in the middle of Hanover and a five-minute walk from the Hanover main train station. The flat is about ten minutes with the tram or bus and a few minutes longer with her bicycle to the university campus. On the weekend where my husband, Kai, and Cara went flat-hunting (I was in Stourbridge), they had 'test driven' to the campus after they decided on the flat.

Gosh, what a clean and lovely train station Hanover has - apparently it's the safest train station in Europe! It's more like a shopping arcade with lots of eateries and the trains are on the second level - you don't hear the trains roaring in, as one would expect in a main train station, I guess it's well insulated against the noise. Being one of the world's main exhibition hub, Hanover is a young and vibrant city and I am pleased for Cara and her decision to study there. Hanover hosts amongst many exhibitions the annual Cebit - trade exhibition for digital business - and is therefore a very international city.

Sydney, our younger daughter, returned home safely after spending four weeks in Singapore at my parents'. I was worried sick when she flew by herself even though we had purposely chosen her connecting flight via Munich as the airport is well organized and not as chaotic as Frankfurt. I kept imagining her on the wrong flight or missing the flight, etc. I suppose I needn't have worried - once on your own, you are more alert and aware of your surroundings. She had a great time in Singapore, met with her cousins (my side of the family is more or less in Singapore though a few of my cousins moved to Malaysia, USA, New Zealand and the UK) and former classmates from the German school in Singapore and of course shopped till she dropped. School started yesturday and she seems very excited about the new school year and her class has several new students though several had left as well.

Between running around getting the necessities for Cara's flat, I attempted these 'star' beads - they were fun and naturally, choosing color combination was the interesting part once I got the hang of making these beads. These beads vary in sizes from 2.3cm to 3.5cm (in diameter). I am rather pleased with the beads since this is the first attempt in making them!

Oh, then on Friday I was working at the computer which is in my studio when I heard a clicking sound which I first ignored since I was absorbed in my work. Then curiousity got the better of me, I turned around and saw that my kiln was on fire - the kiln wasn't even switched on though it was on standby mode!! The digital controller was in flames!! Since my studio is equipped with fire extinguishers and anti-fire blanket, I as able to put out the fire quickly with the anti-fire blanket. What a nightmare - this is the second kiln this year to go belly-up on me. The first kiln broke down early this year and both these kilns have been with me from the start, they are about 5 years old. I suspect this is a manufacturer's defect as both kilns come from EK Miller in Portland, OR, and bought about six months apart. The first kiln simply couldn't hold the temperature after 1 hour and would shut down by itself. I have no idea where this manufacturer has disappeared to, I have emailed and called them many times before this incident as I wanted to get a replacement controller or even a new kiln from them. No one answers my emails or my calls.

Luckily, I have a third kiln from Paragon which I bought early this year - not my favorite kiln but for now I consider myself fortunate to even have a kiln which works!!! I have to look for two new digital controllers and I guess I shall be looking in Germany instead of elsewhere. Thing is, the kilns are in 'excellent condition' albeit no working controllers and they just need to be fitted with new digital controllers. What I can say except when it rains, it pours...

Anyway, have a great start to September!!