IMG_4885While visiting several of our talented vendors in Germany and Switzerland this month, we thought it would be fun if I took a turn at being involved in the work they do at their studios and companies. A big part of what EuropeanMarket is all about is sharing with you the experience of how and where our products are made. What better why of doing that than actually being involved in the process.  Here’s an overview of what I got myself into.

So, I jumped right in at one of our first stops, Lauscha, Germany and the glass studio of Michael Haberland. Michael makes exquisite glass ornaments. OK, let me admit, I was a tad intimidated by the flames. I seemed to do a decent job of spinning the hot glass, but not so much when it came time to form the ornament. Mine turned out looking like an infected appendix, not a round glass sphere.

Also in Lauscha, I took a turn painting ornaments. Hmmm…looked easier than it was. There truly is an art to dipping the glass balls into the paint, twirling them, and shaking off the excess paint. Then, the ornaments are placed upside down on special racks to dry before they move along to the next step in the decorating process. I was fortunate to get out with red paint all over my hair.

In Hof, Germany, at Eagle Products (makers of fine wool and cashmere scarves and blankets), it was time for me to learn how to comb blanket fringe. Who knew fringe needed to be combed before each blanket is wrapped and shipped? The nice German lady teaching IMG_5012me told me I took too long with each blanket. Living by the words—time is money.

Our friend, Hanspeter, had me carving a cow while in Brienz, Switzerland. Brienz is the center of woodcarving in Switzerland. Beautiful pieces ranging in size from small toys and Christmas decorations to life-size creations for use in cathedrals and churches. As I sat down at the bench to start work on my cow, Hanspeter said (insert thick German accent here), “I will now call the ambulance.” Hmmmmm….what kind of support is that?

Next stop, Zug, Switzerland, where I worked the counter at Aeschbach Chocolates. A chocoloate-lovers paradise. In the cocoa-scented sanctuary, our good pal Simone, had me working the counter. Sue laughed because none of the customers were interested in IMG_5133having me wait on them. I said it was because my German isn’t the best. Sue said it was because they didn’t trust me to take an order. Again, a complete lack of support. What’s up with that?

Now, next time you decide to comb blanket fringe and want to do it the correct way, just give me a call. I’m the guy with the answers.