The Price We Pay

September 30, 2010

I'm such a butterfingers at times. I must have dropped my combs and clips I don't know how many times in the past two weeks, but you just pick them up and keep going (of course if I was working on an actually human I'd sterilise them first).
But today I did something stupid. It was a complete accident, but I dropped my hairdryer - badly. After the drop it made an awful noise when switched on and something inside it rattled where there was no rattling before. Sometime like that is a serious safety hazard (this week we've been doing health and safety in class) so I had to put a big "Do Not Use" sticker on it and will have to buy a new one.
A good hairdryer is pricey enough, anywhere from €70 upwards. At the moment that is money I can not comfortably afford to spend but I need the dryer for the course so - ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
I was chatting to the other girls in my course a bit about funds, fees etc. and it seems we're all in the same boat. We all had to take out loans to do this course. Hairdressing/barbering colleges here are privately run colleges and thus the fees are substantial and no government aid or support is available. We are all paying to be here because we want to be here. And it shows. We work hard and the course is intense. Of course it's natural that some will work harder than others and maybe some will find out only after it's all done that this isn't their path in life. Who knows?

For me, I truly want to be here.
I want to learn and I will struggle through the things I find hard to do. This is something that doesn't come easily for me but as I've gotten older I've pushed myself more and more to keep going at the things I want to do but that I'm not good at, or am slow to pick up, or am afraid of. When I was younger I wanted to be good at everything I did. I wanted to be really good, the best, and I was far too hard on myself. I was interested in so, so many things and wanted to be amazing at them all, all at once, and if I wasn't I would be disheartened at myself.
Over the years though I'd learnt not to be so hard on myself. To accept that I will be better at some things than others. To accept that there will nearly always be someone out there who's better than me and learns it faster. To know that and to still pursue the things I love.  I will work at them and not let them get the better of me.  I just take them one by one now instead of all together. For the most part I am more focused, and though something like my dryer breaking this morning can still get me down, I try to brush it off and just keep on keeping on.

Right now I'm finding sectioning work hard. I found it hard on day one and I still find it hard. It's when you run your finger along the scalp to separate the hair and create neat, clean partings/sectionings. It's something so simple and seems to come so naturally to everyone else in my class. It reminds me of when I used to do ju-jitsu and how, even as I got more advanced, I still couldn't do a straight tumble.

So I'll work harder at it. And if that doesn't work I'll work harder again. I'm giving up a lot to be here so I gotta work hard. And you know what Sectionings? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of my life - you will be mine!

- BE

My First Day In The Barbers

September 26, 2010

Last Friday I had my first day's work experience in the barbershop here. I'm doing one day a week there, every Friday, as part of my barbering course. I chose the barber shop very carefully as I wanted a placement somewhere with a good reputation and with great barbers whom I could learn a lot from. I'm only one day in and I'm already happy I made the right choice!

One of the barbers is from Turkey and he's amazing at head designs, hot towel shaves, ear singing etc. His name is Billy and I nearly squeeled when he told me he uses Arko shaving soap squished into a bowl as the soap for his shaves - I LOVE ARKO! Arko is a slightly soft shave stick, however Billy told me he pops it into the microwave for a couple of seconds to soften it a touch more before pressing it into the bowl. He also uses a horse-hair brush with a lovely handle. I must remember to sneak a peek at the make.

All the barbers use Sedef shavettes too! These are a Turkish shavette style razor. A shavette looks like a straight but uses disposable blades. Most barbershops use these for hygiene reason and in fact you can not use real straights under health and safety regulations here in Ireland. I found out that new Sedefs, like the one I got earlier this year as a gift from Turkey, come a bit too tight which is why so many people have trouble putting the blade in. (Seriously, loading a new Sedef can be hazardous to your health... unless of course you don't need all of your fingertips!) You need to loosen the opening with a very thin pin or something and the blade slides in much easier. I recently made a photo tutorial on how to load a Sedef and posted it here if anyone would like to know more about them:
How To Load A Sedef Razor

Billy also taught me how to do threading and ear singeing. Here is a video of traditional Turkish ear singeing for those who do not know it. The flame can really scare people but it is a very effective method of removing outer ear hair and very common practice in Turkey. You can see this technique at 0:38 seconds into this video.

Threading is another method of hair removal that involves catching the hairs in between thread and twisting it out. I need to practice obviously but I know the basic techniques of both now. It was a great first day there and VERY productive. Sure I was making coffee and sweeping lots of hair, but it was so fun to watch everything going on.

I'm going to just be a human sponge in there and watch and learn as much as I can. Also when I get further on in my course the owner told me I can bring models in and he'll get the barbers to give me some one-on-one training too which is great. It's all very exciting and I'm only one week in!

Around The World In 80 Shaves!

It was my birthday recently and during the week I received a package in the post from my friend John in Ohio.
I could not believe my eyes when I opened it! :
An amazing selection of shaving items with an "around the world" theme and a fantastically sweet card!

Apologies for the poor quality photo, it contains:
Australia & New Zealand - Palmolive cream and shave stick 
France - L'Occtitane CADE soap
Germany - Wilkinson DoubleEdge blades 
Russia - Gillette 7 O'Clock blades (one of my favourites!)
India - Godrey soap
Egypt - Shark blades (another fav!)
America - Queen Charlotte Soaps Key Lime shaving soap.

I'm very excited to try the key lime soap as it's made by a BadgerandBlade member 'mretzloff' ( mretzloff on B&B ) and I've been reading really good reviews about it. Also it smells fantastic and contains tallow which pretty much guarantees I'll love it!

Ah... if only every day could be my birthday!


Shave Of The Week - 26th Sept '10

So I thought it'd be fun to have a "Shave Of The Week" section where I'll use one razor, one blade (if I'm not using a straight), one brush and one cream/soap for the week and then do a little write-up on here.
If anyone has any requests (ie. more creams, more DE reviews...) please let me know and I'll see what I can do!

Here's my set-up for the week just gone, which contains some of my favourite things as well as being unintentionally colour co-ordinated!:
I recently got my beautiful straight razors back from honing. (Many thanks to ShavedZombie on BadgerAndBlade.com who honed them wonderfully for me.) -  ShavedZombie on B&B

My favourite straight is my Red Imp so I have been using it as my razor all of this week having been excited to try its new sharpness! Using a straight razor (sometimes referred to as a 'cut-throat razor', or simply a 'straight') does have quite a learning curve on it but I am lucky enough that am an ambidextrous shaver so this makes some of the angles, like on the backs of my legs etc., a little easier!
It's the 132 version and is square-point 5/8ths razor which means its a nice small thing which fits perfectly in my hand.  It gives me a smooth, close shave and is very well balanced.

The "soap" is Cella. I say "soap" because this stuff is really more like a soft putty type of texture. It's an Italian made soap and is light cream in colour and smells of almonds. It lathers fantastically. It's one of my top products to use and is thick and slick and a dream to shave with. It's not drying at all and provides great cushion.

The brush is a black handled badger hair brush. Though not my favourite brush it's a lovely one and I like how the handle looks like it could be a chess piece. The badger grade is "finest" as far as I recall and it's a great worker that creates lather easily.

So a close comfortable shave this week with a setup up that I love.

But here's the bad news...
right after using this set-up today I accidental banged the edge of my straight against the tap!
It now has a tiny, tiny ding in the edge so I'm going to have to see if I can fix it on my barber's hone or if I'll have to send it out again! Poor Red Imp didn't know what hit it!

The Journey Of A Thousand Miles

September 21, 2010

... must begin with a single step.
Or, in my case, two days in my new, exciting course!

So today was my second day in the college and already it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride. There are 9 other girls in my class, but I'm the only one studying barbering, which I am hoping will mean I'll get some great one-on-one tuition. The other plus side to that is that I will also pick up a lot of the hairdressing skills along the way too, which can only be a good thing in my opinion. My mind is open and ready to learn and boy has the information been pouring in!

There's another college not too far from here that does the same course but in 12 months; my college teaches it in 7 so it's very intense. No time for bleary-eyed starts or daydreaming. In fact, it's kind of like going to work everyday in a job that needs a lot of focus and learning.

On day 1 we were thrown straight in with minimal faffing around. We spent the morning chatting about the college rules, getting folders, registering and talking a bit about ourselves. We each had to stand up and talk for 60 seconds. I've plenty of experience waffling on about nothing in particular from my photography job, so knowing I have this basic skill down pat gave me quite a confidence boost and helped to calm the first-day nerves which had been chasing the butterflies in my stomach. As the tutor explained; she can teach us how to do almost anything with hair, but if we can't have a conversation with our clients then she can't help us with that, and it's one of the most important things we need to do. I was kinda surprised how hard some of the girls found this and how shy they were, and I did note that both the other 2 girls who are in their mid-twenties, and myself, find it the easiest to do. The rest are in their late teens and I guess it's only natural that I have ten years more stuff to ramble on about! We'll have to do this 60 second talk twice a week to help everyone build up confidence with this, and I'm sure I'll end up telling my life story during that time and man, will I feel old in comparision!

Once all the basic welcomes etc. were covered we were given our mannequin heads and taught how to do a straight blow dry. We were told how important posture is and the tutor is so very right about this. While we were doing the blow-dry, each time she passed by me I found myself correcting my posture, not having noticed it had slipped a bit.
Barbers and hairdressers are on their feet all day with their arms raised at roughly chest height, so if your posture isn't good you won't last 5 years without seriously damaging your back or hips.  I'm also a bit taller than the others in my class so I need to watch this even more.

This morning we took off our coats and 'BAM!' we were straight back into doing another (timed) blow dry. And another. And another. Each time trying to speed up while also doing a better job than the last. We're in a room that has 14 stations/workspaces in it so it's small enough and that heat sure builds up! So another important thing the principle mentioned to us really came into play today and that is hygiene. You WILL sweat doing this and showering daily, as well as having fresh clothes and using a good deodorant, are a must.

Then, after our break we learnt how to do a 'brick-set' with curlers. The tutor apologised to me as it's not really anything I technically have to do on my course (I had to borrow the equipment for it too as I don't have rollers in my kit) but, being the only barber in this semester, they are catering the course to me as they can. At this stage though I'm learning lots from everything I do. Learning how to do a brick-set really helped me with creating clean sections/partings in the hair which is something I struggled with yesterday. 
Here's a picture of how I did as I was very happy with it!

After lunch we worked on client consultation: finding our what they want, their hair type etc. We did some role play and again I found this part fairly easy, though you do have to remember to get a lot of information.

The course is great and very hands-on which is good, but I've been making sure to make notes after each day, and on breaks too, so I don't forget everything by the end of the week!

Initially my course will be the same as the hairdressing one as the first 4 modules (health and safety, washing hair etc.) are the same for both courses. Then, as time goes on, I'll diversify, which should be great.

Of course there's also my work experience every Friday in a barbershop down here, so I'm very excited to see how that goes. I imagine I'll be making enough tea to float a small island on but I'll keep my eyes and ears open to take in everything I can!

Just call me the human sponge! And speaking of sponge - I still have some birthday cake left from yesterday so I'm off to have a slice. 



Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

September 20, 2010

This is a long one, so let me get you a nice cup of tea or a glass of your favourite tipple and you                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     can pull up a chair and relax...
Today was my first day on the course! I'll write about that in another post but last night I got to thinking and reflecting about why I started on this road and what got me to this point...

I've always been a bit of a "Jill Of All Trades" and my interests are many and varied as my friends will tell you (and often tease me about!). I'll pick something up and study it in depth only to pick up something else a week/month/year later and add that to my repertoire too. But growing up I never would have guessed that this is where I would be by my late twenties. 

A little over a year ago I gave up a job working at something I thought I would have loved to have done as a career. One of those things many see as a "dream job" and indeed I know how lucky I was to have worked at it full time. I was working professionally as a photographer but, for many reasons, I discovered that doing that as a profession just wasn't for me.  Though I learned a lot and enjoyed a good portion of it, I found it trapping to work in the field, to other's briefs and it didn't give me the creative freedom I wanted with that hobby.
I've worked for money reasons in the past when I needed to save. But I could never work for money alone.

So, when I gave up the photography job I pretty much had every choice possible in front of me to begin again. The world was my oyster, as they say, and the options were so limitless they were daunting. I knew that I love to be creative, so anything I decided to work at at that point would have required me to go back to some form of education. So, I literally sat down day after day in front of the jobs listing website and went through each and every profession. Things I would never in a million years have thought of doing I looked at and tried to visualize myself working at it.
I surprised even myself when I came across barbering and thought "hmmm... maaaybe". And, as the days passed I found myself going back to this over and over again. 
It was creative, but on a one-to-one basis with each client so you constantly have new challenges and it's still a job, not a hobby. It's social enough without being overly tiring like the photography was (which like being a children's entertainer for 8 hours each day!). It's a business and a skill you can travel with and I value that.

And it was something else too... something I can't quite explain. 
The transforming something wild of messy into something styled. The stubble into the clean-shaven. It's the same reason why I love vaccuming ( yes, I love vacuuming!). I find it relaxing and almost zen-like to watch the hoover suck up the dirt leaving the clean surface behind and I like cutting hair and shaving for the same reason.

So I looked into courses and a few months later I signed up to do a basics course at The Waldorf Barber Shop in Dublin. I really, really enjoyed that (and if you'd like to read more about my time there you can look at my fellow colleague at the time's blog here: Diary Of A Vintage Barber Enthusiast ). You'll have to skip back a bit to find the entries from that time.
The course was short and part time but it gave me the taste for barbering and I knew then it was something I really enjoyed. But I knew I'd still need further training to find a job and to be confident enough in my abilities.

The rest I guess is history.
Though maybe not quite...
While working to save money to do the course I'm doing now for a while there I flirted with the idea of being a dog groomer! Yes, I thought "I love animals and it has some similarities with barbering..." but then I joined this website: Badger And Blade, were I met some of the nicest gents I know.
Honestly, the guys (and a few of us gals) on there, with their support, advice, generosity and their never-ending welcome really just hooked me. I began to love and appreciate a good lather and a traditional shave as well as the discussions on so many other topics. It was like my ideal barber shop was online! My mind was made up, so I did my research, saved my money and well... here I am.

So how did today go? Well that's for another night and another post as I'm not used to those early mornings just yet and my bed is calling me... Until tomorrow...




September 17, 2010

I get asked quite a lot just what exactly "Barber Eile" means or what it's a spin on. I guess living in Ireland I thought it was quite a funny double play on words, but I quickly realised that my friends across the sea get a bit confused by it!
I get called Barber Elie (elly) quite a bit and I don't mind it in the slightest but I thought I'd explain where it came from for those who are curious.

In Irish the word "eile" means "other" and is prounced "ella".
So 'Barber Eile' means 'the other barber'.
However when you say it, it sounds like Barber-ella, which is a little nod towards this fine lady:
Okay so maybe my barbering skills won't quite save the universe but who knows? What if a bunch of aliens whose planet is overrun with stubble decide to wipe out the earth and I step forward, straight razors a-blazin' to save the day by helping them out?
What?!? It could happen!
As for the name, well I think if I'm going to be saving the world I should have a costume with an symbol on it like Superman, and I already have one picked out, it's the name most people choose to refer to me by and it's simple to remember:
- BE

Welcome, Let Me Take Your Coat.

September 16, 2010

So here it finally is! Still a little rough around the edges and liable to have a few changes over the next few weeks but for what it's worth the ship has left the harbour and is on it's journey.

My first post is simply to welcome people along. I will begin my barbering training this coming Monday and I wanted somewhere I could post my learnings and thoughts as I go on this exciting journey. It's also a place where I will write my thoughts and reviews on products I like, methods I've tried and the like. Heck, there might even be the odd tutorial thrown in!

Is there anything you'd like to see or some way you feel I could improve things? Please just let me know!

 - BE