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 them.
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.
I have my degree in ceramics from the University of Idaho. I was one of the first to receive a degree in ceramics from there. Along the way I worked myself into "minors" in jewelry, sculpture and piano performance (really...piano performance)...and married my best friend, Brenda.
It was during a one year break from Idaho to take care of my diabetes (T1D) that I was able to take a class in pottery at what was then Diablo Valley Junior College. It was magical. I love clay...period. I was a music major prior to that but clay rather abruptly pushed the music major idea aside.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I have other interests. I still do play the piano occasionally, and I like to play English Handbells, gardening (mostly native plants or dye material for fiber), fish for trout in Montana and play in Irish sessions with my B/C button box (or bodhran or banjo). But the darn clay really defines me.
While a great deal of the focus is on Jim, he makes the pots of 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 personnel recruiter specializing in healthcare technology. She holds her MBA from Dominican University of California in International Business. She serves on the Executive Board of a large women's philanthropy and currently serves as the International President of the organization. She is an accomplished Handbell Director and when she finds free time she will be knitting, dying or weaving.
I've had other careers and businesses through the years (the fish hatchery with 260 aquariums is a story in itself), but I've but I've always done clay. It has always had a grip on me, still attracts me and being the addiction that it is, I should know better. I still have a Robert Brent potter's wheel with a serial number of "72" and just have never been able to let it go...so I use 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 I retire from something that I absolutely love to do. I sometimes ask myself, "what else would I do." While life and the work continue to evolve, the clay is the same and for that I'm very thankful.
p.s.: About that photo in the header...I wish it was taken recently. I like the photo. It reminds me of the color of my hair once upon a time...and of course, our grandkids are about the age of our two daughters in the photo.