I was always a little afraid of getting a lump of coal for Christmas. Was that just a ruse told to me by my parents to make me behave myself? What happens if you actually want some coal, or at least, charcoal….?
Hold everything. We’re in real trouble. The business will collapse, everyone out of a job. Mortgages unpaid, repossessions, catastrophe. And all because I can’t find a decent charcoal block anywhere.
My old faithful is on its last legs. It gets burnt and worn away each day. I’d say we have another month or so together, then it’ll all be over. And then what am I going to do?
A charcoal block should be as light as a feather, and as soft as soft. Its primary function is to not conduct heat. Secondary is to bounce heat back, third is to support the piece being soldered. You can press a delicate shape into a soft light block, It will give, and then hold, without draining away any heat. You can scratch it, drill or carve it. You can do anything. Make anything.
A hard old heavy charcoal block is as good as a concrete brick. It can’t be carved, and if it is, where the job touches it’ll sap the heat away and everything will taint before you can get it to solder. Soldering needs to be a directional confident thing. Once you start taking too long, dithering or doubting, you’ve lost it. It simply won’t work. Start again, clean everything up and start from the beginning.
I must have bought over 20 charcoal blocks in the past year or so. An endless search where optimism turns to disappointment.
I never thought a thing like a charcoal block could be such a problem. Anyone got any ideas?
Charcoal blocks aside for a minute, Christmas seems (touch wood) to be going (fingers crossed) OK, so far. We were thinking of starting a p/p/h. competition. Pounds Per Hour. We’re all sharing trunk show and Christmas sale duties, the lovely gang are working seven days a week and extra long hours. Susie and Rosie took the lead at their amazing luvvie sale at Vogue. Those fash girls were bashing down the door before they’d even set up properly. Rakhi and April were chasing the prize at their super little trunk show in Chancery Lane. No amount of snow was going to keep those legal beagles away. Yoko, Nazan and I did sterling work at our studio sale. But then we found out that the girls in Liberty were playing too. Emma and Mayo manned the Special Collection stand in store, but those Liberty girls are pros, it was a time trial; how long would it take to sell £1,000 worth. They got it down to three minutes so hats off to them. Respect.
Just a little worrying now I read this back. We’re going to have to keep them well stocked, my first job tomorrow morning…
I love working the trunk shows because it’s a good bit of ‘back to basics’ for me. It’s hard work selling things. And it’s very humbling to meet such lovely people to whom your work means so much. In Ede and Ravenscroft I met a lovely young woman who had wanted a particular piece for over a year, but couldn’t really afford it. So she hadn’t gone out once in November. Every time she had turned down an invitation she put away the money she had saved. By the end of the month she had enough to come along and buy the necklace. How brilliant is that. If we can remember her every time we make a piece we’ll be better for it.
No danger of me not going out for a month. It’s the Christmas party season looming. We’re hiring a pub and doing karaoke. Can’t wait. My old faithful is ‘Beyond the Sea’, which I sing pretty much like Bobby Darin, only better in many ways.
The kids came in to work to make pressies for their Mum. I’m secretly training them up, part of my plan for an early retirement. Actually my little Libby made a scarily super pendant all on her own. I might be getting jealous!
We host the Sallie Army band outside our house for Christmas carols soon. Mulled wine, neighbours and hot dogs. The kids and I send our wish lists to Santa via the chimney on Christmas eve. We write on tissue and float them up and away. How Santa finds then I’ll never know. Magic I suppose. Let’s hope for a little magic this year… ‘dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a BLOODY SOFT CHARCOAL BLOCK!’