Sunday, 15 January 2017

A few changes

Lampwork glass 'Stormcloud' beads by Laura Sparling

Hello, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year etc!

I'm just doing a quick post to let you know about a couple of bead tweaks I'm making. In February I am starting a full-time distance learning degree in Archaeology with the University of Leicester. This means I will have to make a couple of Beads By Laura changes. (I will explain this archaeology development in a separate blog post.)

Firstly, I am not offering tuition for the foreseeable future. I am teaching at MangoBeads at the end of this month (and there are a couple of places left) but after that, I am taking zero tuition bookings.

Secondly, I am cutting back on the amount of bead 'sets' I make. There will still be sets but I am going to sell some beads as singles. That way I can make a bunch of beads in one design and you can buy one, a pair, or several of them. And if you're thinking "No way am I paying a couple of quid for one bead and then £1.99 postage on top!" then panic not; I am now offering FREE Royal Mail 2nd Class postage to UK addresses.

It's going to take me a while to get into a routine; I have an idea in my head of how studying for a degree alongside running a business might work, but until I actually start doing it, I shan't know for certain. The best way to keep updated with beads is to regularly check this here website, or to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also sign up to my mailing list for sort-of-monthly updates and discount codes.

The photo at the top of this post is of some 'Stormcloud' beads which are currently available as singles. There are a few other beads for sale too. All of them can be found in my shop.

Friday, 21 October 2016


Lampwork blown glass hollow ghost bead by Laura Sparling

I've only got a couple of these Halloweenish ghosts left now but I thought I'd show you them anyway.

Lampwork blown glass hollow ghost beads by Laura Sparling

The ghosts are blown hollows made in translucent white glass.

Lampwork blown glass hollow ghost bead by Laura Sparling

They're weighted nicely so they hang really well on a chain.

Lampwork blown glass hollow ghost bead necklace by Laura Sparling

I have just two ghost necklaces left in the shop as I type this. Those are £15.00 each and are available here.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Little Somethings

Lampwork glass and sterling silver necklace by Laura Sparling

I'm calling these my 'Little Something' necklaces as they are just that – a little something extra to complement an outfit, or a little something as a gift, either to yourself or someone else.

Lampwork glass and sterling silver necklace by Laura Sparling

Each one consists of three of my lampwork beads—one decorated and two plain spacers—threaded onto a sterling silver rolo link chain.

Lampwork glass and sterling silver necklace by Laura Sparling

The beads slide up and down the chain, which is great for jewellery twiddler-fondlers, but whilst the necklace is being worn the beads naturally sit in their little trio.

Lampwork glass and sterling silver necklace by Laura Sparling

My Little Something necklaces are £13.00 each and I'll be adding them to my website on a fairly regular basis, so do check there often for new styles.

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

I've also got some Luminobeads in the shop. I was feeling mighty autumnal when I made these so that's why they're made in rich copper and amber shades.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The CiM testing continues

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling, made with CiM 'Painted Hills'

I'm still trying out the new Creation is Messy colours and I'm writing about them. Recent additions to the Tumblr are Painted Hills, which is pictured above, and there's also:


Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling, made with CiM 'Denim'


Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling, made with CiM 'Quetzal'

and Class M Planet

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling, made with CiM 'Class M Planet'

I've still got a few more colours to test yet. I hope people find the posts useful.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

CiM Testing

Lampwork glass beads made in Creation is Messy 'Aloha'

I'm working my way through a bundle of new Creation is Messy glass colours, writing up my findings and thoughts as I do so. The first four testing posts are over on my Tumblr. The colours I've twiddled with so far are:


Lampwork glass beads made in Creation is Messy 'Bashful'


Lampwork glass beads made in Creation is Messy 'Mockingbird'


Lampwork glass beads made in Creation is Messy 'Envy'

and Aloha.

Lampwork glass beads made in Creation is Messy 'Aloha'

All of the test findings can be found on my Tumblr blog, which is also where I keep a record of the glasses I use for all my beads.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Taraxacum officinale

Dandelion clock, taken with my iPhone

This past week I've spent my evenings putting dandelion clock seeds into beads in order to make my Wishful necklaces. It's very time consuming. I sit there with the telly on, tray of dandelion clocks and beads 'pon my lap, and with a pair of tweezers I pluck a seed from a clock and then add it to a glass bubble, carefully feeding it through the 3mm hole. I keep on doing this until the glass bubble is full of dandelion fluffs.

Dandelion seed, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
Dandelion seed, or 'fluff' as I like to call it

Blown lampwork glass hollow beads by Laura Sparling
Blown glass beads, wet from their bath

Blown lampwork glass bead and dandelion seed pendants by Laura Sparling
Beads, filled with seeds and made into pendants

Because I handle every dandelion seed separately, I've noticed how much they vary. Not all dandelions are equal. Obviously they are different sizes which means that the seeds from one clock head can be shorter or longer than the seeds from another. The fluffiness of the fluffs is also determined by when the dandelion was picked and how long it has had to dry out. The colour of the seedy bit of the seeds also seems to be affected by this. The older the seed, the darker the seedy bit is.

Dandelion clock seeds, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

I've become a bit of a dandelion weirdo. I reckon this could be the thing that gives me 'local character' status. I'll be known as 'Dandelion Woman' or 'Her, You Know, Her, Who Picks Dandelions'. I'm constantly scanning grass verges and patches for dandelion clocks. I never leave the house without my dandelion collecting pot and as soon as I see a fluffy lollipop I dash over and pluck it.

Dandelion flower, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

In my head I have a map of where the big yellow in-bloom dandelions are because I know that in a week or so they will have transformed into clocks and then I can go back to collect them. I don't pick all of them; I always leave a couple there so their seeds can do the nature thing and float away to create new dandelions.

Now, in the style of a Year 7 science project about dandelions, here are some fun dandelion facts for you:

  • The name 'dandelion' comes from the French 'dent di lion' which means 'lion's tooth' and this refers to the jagged leaves of the plant
  • Dandelion seeds can be carried on the wind for as far as five miles
  • In Victorian times, dandelions were grown by rich people and the plants would be eaten in salads and sandwiches
  • Dandelions are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C
  • The roots of a dandelion can grow up to half a metre long
  • The leaves of the dandelion plant can be used to make purple dye
  • Dandelion tea can be used as a mild laxative but don't be drinking it if you have gallbladder issues as it can also increase the flow of bile
  • Dandelions are food for the caterpillars of several types of butterfly and moth
  • Dandelions open at about five o'clock in the morning and close at about eight o'clock at night, hence the term 'clock'; they were once used as indicators of time

And of course, as with many flowers there are many myths and meanings and old wives' tales surrounding them:

  • When you blow a dandelion clock the number of seeds left represent how many children you will have
  • Another theory states that the number of seeds remaining post-puff indicate how many years you have left to live
  • Dreaming of dandelions represents happy unions
  • Some people think that the dandelion represents celestial bodies; the yellow flower is the sun, the seed head is the moon and the seeds are the stars
  • Dandelions in a wedding bouquet will bring good luck
  • Burying a dandelion in the north-west corner outside your house is said to bring favour and fortune
  • Dandelion root tea can aid psychic abilities and prophetic dreaming
  • In Victorian flower language, dandelions represent faithfulness, happiness and love's oracle
  • You should make a wish before you blow the seeds off a dandelion clock

A lot of those are probably twaddle and I reckon if you bury a dandelion anywhere you'll just end up with lots more dandelions as opposed to favour and fortune. Actually, I am going to do that. Not the burying-it-to-bring-me-favour-and-fortune thing, but in order to intentionally grow dandelions. Most people try and get rid of them but no, I'm going to grow me some so that I can have a good supply for my necklaces. Right now I have enlisted friends and family for dandelion-picking duties and my necklaces contain Hampshire, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire dandelion seeds.

Blown lampwork glass bead and dandelion seed necklace by Laura Sparling

There you go. More than you ever wanted or needed to know about Taraxacum officinale - the common dandelion. I've come to love these flowers. They're absolutely fascinating and I refuse to call them weeds. Hurrah for the dandelions!

Dandelion clock, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

Oh, and if you'd like to order you very own Wishful necklace, please head right this way.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Flower power

Poppy, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

*Monty Don face*

Welcome to the blog post where I bore you with news of my uninteresting garden. Don't worry, there are some beads too, but first, let me show you my munchkin pumpkin. (Oooh, Jeremy.)

Baby munchkin pumpkin

I grew munchkin pumpkins for two reasons:
  1. The name 'munchkin pumpkin' which I sing to the Oompa Loompa song as "Munchkin pumpkin, pump-a-di-doo"... obviously.
  2. Because who can resist the idea of growing an actual tiny pumpkin?
The plant itself is like a triffid; massive leaves and curly-wurly tendrils aplenty. I was starting to think I would never get any pumpkins because it's done loads of flowers but those just wither, leaving no offspring behind (which I can totally identify with because that's how I'm living my life) but then I read about it and they have male and female flowers. Nature.

My sunflowers are an embarrassment. I couldn't get the same seeds that gave me the amazing ones I grew last year so I have eighteen weak and wimpy sunflowers that are no more than three feet high. I did intentionally grow micro sunflowers, though, (I'm clearly all about the miniature garden stuff this year) and they've turned out really well.

Micro sun sunflower, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

My favourite plants this summer have been my poppies. There's one at the top of this post and look, here are some more:

Poppies against the fence
Poppies making the grotty fence look nice


Poppy refractions, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
Poppies refracted in raindrops

Poppy, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

Poppy wit raindrops, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
Raindroppy poppy

I've also grown chillies and tomatoes and wild strawberries and mint. All the mint. Mint-mint, peppermint, spearmint and watermelon mint. So. Much. Mint. Oh, and catnip, which I'm having to grow in hanging baskets out of Nigel's reach as he goes totally Renton for catnip.

Anyway, beads. These are flowery too.

Lampwork glass encased floral beads by Laura Sparling

I made these beads ages ago. I rescued them from a jam jar of odd beads I found in the cupboard under the sink. I don't know why I 'rejected' them. (See? That's how annoying my pernickety faff brain is; I can't even remember what I thought was wrong with them.) The only reason I can see is that a couple of them have small, harmless bubbles in the encasing but that's pretty normal for encased florals so I'm fine with that. For today, anyway. They're in the shop as I type.

I don't want to be a premature idiot, but I'm pretty sure I can smell a slight whiff of autumn. Something about the weather's mood has shifted and I like it. Don't get me wrong, I think there are some summery days left to come but there's something different about the morning light and the coolness of the breeze this week.

Now I must away to the shed where I will spend the day blowing glass bubbles and chair dancing and singing along to Lucius.

Have a great Friday! (Of course you will. It's Friday.)