A Little of
LickinFlames is a new brand of that first business. The name LickinFlames comes from the unique characteristics applied to the individual pieces by the flames "licking" across the pieces in the kiln and in the post firing processes. Control freak that I am, it took a while for me to be able to give up some control to the flames. It seemed appropriate to name the brand after those magical flames.
Through the years, we've done arts and crafts shows on the lawns of local libraries, strip malls, indoor malls, street fairs, renaissance fairs and even in back yards of friends and family...we called them "pot parties." At one point we started selling wholesale with sales representatives at seven major wholesale gift markets. We supported 335 accounts in 37 states and had as many as nine employees. We've been down the route of casting and hydraulic pressing, forming upwards of 500 pieces a day and we've had studios in single car garages, double car garages and in a 3000 sf facility. When we were younger (and didn't know any better), we traveled 25-30 weekends a year to craft shows. Our schedule is much more comfortable these days.
Jim has his degree in ceramics from the University of Idaho, and was one of the first to receive a degree in ceramics from there. Along the way he worked myself into "minors" in jewelry, sculpture and piano performance (really...piano performance)...and married his best friend, Brenda.
It was during a one year break from Idaho to take care of his diabetes (T1D) that he was able to take a class in pottery at what was then Diablo Valley Junior College. It was magical. Jim loves clay...period. He was a music major prior to that pottery class, but clay rather abruptly pushed the notion of "music major" aside.
Oh, don't get it wrong, Jim has other interests. Jim still does play the piano occasionally, and he likes to work in the yard. I wouldn't call it gardening...Jim and Brenda live on 4 acres of forest. If he's not working on clay he would be working on genealogy or playing in Irish sessions with his B/C button box (or bodhran or banjo). But the darn clay really defines him.
While a great deal of the focus is on Jim, he makes the pots of the pottery...the stuff you see. There is a backbone to the business, the muse, the leader, the driver and the Mom of the family and that is Brenda. Don't for a minute think that because most of the "About" page is about Jim that her role or importance should be thought of as less important. Brenda is really responsible for running the business and makes LickinFlames happen.
Brenda, a native Idahoan and fellow University of Idaho graduate, is a recruiter for a large international recruiting company. She holds her MBA from Dominican University of California in International Business. She has spent over three decades serving in various offices of a large women's philanthropy and currently serves as a Past International President of the organization. She is an accomplished knitter and when she finds free time she will be knitting, dying or weaving.
Jim has had other careers and businesses through the years (the fish hatchery with 260 aquariums is a story in itself), but he always done clay. Clay has always had a grip on Jim, it still attracts him and being the addiction that it is, he should know better. He still have a Robert Brent potter's wheel with a serial number of "72" and just has never been able to let it go...so he uses it.
We live and work outside of Nevada City, CA, about an hour from Sacramento. No, this is not a hobby and no, we're not retired. Why on earth would we retire from something that we absolutely love to do. Jim sometimes asks himself, "what else would I do." While life and the work continue to evolve, the clay is the same and for that we're very thankful.
p.s.: About that photo in the header...Jim wishes it was taken recently. Both Jim and Brenda like the photo. It reminds them of the color of their hair once upon a time...and of course, their grandkids are a bit older than the age of their two daughters in the picture.