Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Name-tastic!

There have been lots of fabulous names sumbitted and a large proportion of them had a definite bumble-bee and Halloween vibe!

It's always tricky picking a winner - so many great suggestions. But I have picked one and the name of the discs will be 'Baroque Bumblebeads' as submitted by Rach. Well done, Rach! Please email me with your full name and address and I'll get your pendant in the post to you.

Thanks to everyone who entered. There'll be another name game soon!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Another bead-naming game

So I started making a set of disc beads today and I can't think of a good name for them. They're transparent purple and opaque pale orange.

I've turned three of them into a pendant (that one up there) and I thought I'd offer it as the prize in another bead-naming competition.

If you can think of a suitable name for a set of these purple and orange stripy discs then please post your ideas in my comments section. You can submit as many suggestions as you like and I shall pick my favourite name at 7.00pm (GMT) tomorrow evening.

I'll announce the winner of the pendant here on my blog tomorrow night.

Mum's Tree

Hello! I hope you had a good weekend? Mine was great. Chris and I went to see 'Stardust' on Sunday. I've seen it twice now and I think it's fab. Totally recommend it.

On the way home from Cambridge yesterday I stopped in London to meet one of my customers for coffee. Kanina's been buying my beads for ages now - we've had many an email conversation and she's also a fellow Star Wars geekette! So Kanina and I met up and had a good old natter. At one point were were interrupted by a total stranger who stopped to tell me what lovely hair I've got, which was an odd thing but nice of him all the same. (That's never happened to me in my life. To me my hair is just a curly moppy mess!) Anyway, Kanina and I whiled away two hours talking about all things beads, jewellery and Lego Star Wars which was fab. If you get a spare few minutes do make sure you take a look at Kanina's lovely website. She's got some gorgeous jewellery on there. I'm in love with the 'Tropical Fruits' bracelet. Yum!

When I arrived home yesterday I was surprised at the amount of leaves that had fallen off the trees over the weekend - the driveway is covered in them. Not all the trees are losing their leaves yet, though. I wandered down the road and took a photo of 'Mum's Tree' this morning and its leaves are only just starting to turn that yellowy colour. This huge, ancient oak was Mum's favourite tree and she always said that if they ever cut it down she'd move (our house is just behind it in this photograph) and she used to get all irate if she ever heard the council out and about doing general hedgerow maintenance with their chainsaws and strimmers. She'd make one of us go and see what they were doing and to check that they weren't touching 'her tree'. The oak's got a preservation order on it but Mum never quite trusted the council men with their chainsaws!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

See you next week!

I'm off up to Cambridge tomorrow for the weekend so I shan't be posting until next week.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Lovin' the discs!

More disc beads in bright and cheery colours!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Disc Beads

I had such fun making these beads! I've seen quite a few jewellery projects lately that feature disc beads so I thought I'd make some. I've gone for stripes here in classic black and white but I can definitely see me making more with dots and twisties in crazy colours!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Double encasing experiment

There's been a severe lack of Laurabeads this past week, but I intend to put that right as of tomorrow.

The beads above are double encased. I started off with a barrel of white, then cased that in coloured transparent and then encased the whole bead again in clear glass. The effect is lovely - it sort of makes the beads look shinier than usual. I like!

'Ice Queen' and dress stress

I sat and made jewellery last night. I haven't made jewellery in ages! I've seen lots of ladies wearing those long necklaces lately and I wanted to make one that included my lampwork. The above is a close up of the resulting 'Ice Queen' necklace which is currently for sale on the Wearbles page of my website.

I went dress-shopping yesterday. I'm going to a posh birthday ball in November - my aunt and cousin's joint 18th and 40th celebration. The dress code is formal. I don't do dresses. Last time I wore one was for Sally's wedding last August.

After recoiling at the initial shock of being told 'Yes Laura - you do have to wear a dress' I looked some up on t'internet. I found a few I liked the look of but you have to try these things on, don't you? Last weekend my very patient boyfriend suggested we look for dresses (is he mad?) in Cambridge. We wandered about and I eventually found a couple and went into the changing rooms to try them on.

Gah! Changing rooms! What is it with them? Most of them are too small, too hot and I always seem to get the one that has the harassed Mum with two bored, noisy children next door who are repeatedly running some form of toy car up and down the wall while the Mum says things like 'No Charlie, don't do that!' and 'Yes, darling we'll go and get a McDonalds in a minute!' through gritted trying-to-be-patient teeth.

Anyway, I had these two dresses and decided to try on the one I liked more first. It was a kind of Lily Allen-style pale gold number with tiny black polka dots and a sash with a bow (looking back, what the hell was I thinking?!) and it had a net thingy underneath to puff it out. So I unzipped it and climbed into it but I couldn't get the flipping thing up over my hips so I had to put it on over my head. I got my arms through but I was stuck - I couldn't pull the dress down over my chest and there were bits of sash, net and lining sticking out at all angles. By now I was very very flustered and a bit stressed and I was aware that Chris was waiting outside the changing rooms in that manly no-I-really-am-waiting-for-my-girlfriend kind of way.

I was a bit stuck. Did I shout for help and risk the assistant seeing me in this bizarre big-puffy-dress being worn as an Elizabethan-style-ruff with my arms above my head teamed with bright pink underwear and red and black stripy socks situation? No. I calmed down and literally pulled bits of me through the dress an inch at a time until I had the dress under my chest and I could breathe normally again. Phew! I sorted the net out and tried to zip the dress up. But no - the damn thing wouldn't do up. I needed a bigger size - don't you just hate it when that happens? So in a mini-strop I unzipped the dress and to my horror the zip went down way further than I thought it did and the dress literally fell off me. Why the hell didn't I notice that at the start? If I'd have unzipped the thing the whole way to begin with it would've made getting into it so much easier!

I did contemplate not trying on the second dress. I was worried that security were going to start questioning Chris as to why he'd spent so long hanging around outside the ladies changing rooms. But I did try the second one on - navy blue with a tiny glittery gold firework-type design all over it (that sounds horrific but it was nice, honestly) and I swished back the curtain and went to see what Chris thought. He took one look at me, saw my red and black stripy socks, bird-nest hair and stressed face and he turned away laughing!

So I got changed and we left the shop with me all in a strop.

Yesterday I decided to go and try dress-shopping again, without the red and black stripy socks. I dragged my Dad along and I found a lovely dress in the first shop we went in. It was plain black, strapless and simple. I went to try it on and the lady put me in one of the disabled changing rooms. Lots of room! I tried the dress on (checking that I'd unzipped it the whole way this time) and did that thing where you spin round really fast to see how much the dress billows out! I'm not alone in that am I? I think it's a little girl thing - party dresses that 'went out' when you span round were fab, as were clippy-cloppy shoes!

Happy with the colour, the fit and the spinny-round-billowy-out factor I made my purchase and left the shop a very happy un-stressed dress buyer! Best thing is, I can wear the dress with a pair of shoes that I've had for almost a year and never worn. I got me a handbag to match said shoes yesterday too so now I'm all set for the party!

Friday, 19 October 2007

Definitely Autumn

It's been such a nice day today - fresh and chilly but with sunshine. Perfect! Autumn's my favourite time of the year. I love Winter too.

The bead above is one of the few I have for sale on my website tonight. It's one of my 'BloomBeads' made in Autumnal colours.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Blueberry Liquorice Swirls

Yep - that's the name that I went for, as suggested by Lynne. Well done, Lynne! Please can you send me an email with your full name and address and I'll get some beads in the post to you.

Big thank yous to everyone who entered the bead naming contest. There were so many fab names there and it was really difficult to pick a winner. It was fun though and I reckon I'll do another name-that-bead thing soon!

I've been tarting up my website today. Please click here if you'd like to take a look at the newly re-decorated Beads By Laura.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Name these beads

Here are some of the beads that I've made in the past few days.

I'm completely stumped as to what I should call these blue beads, so I thought I'd ask you!

If you can think of a suitable name for them then please post it in my comments section and I'll pick my favourite at some point tomorrow afternoon. You can post as many name suggestions as you like and the person who provides the name I eventually choose will 'win' some of my beads.

Happy name-thinking!

Birthday Cake

It's my sister Sally's birthday today and this is the cake that I made her. Strawberries and cream - yum!

My Google Toolbar 'Mood Ring' thing is telling me I'm stressed and tense and that actually is how I feel today. I blame it on that flippin' spider! I can't seem to get into the beadmaking swing of things. I do have a few beads that I'll photograph and add to the blog later on this evening, though.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Conkers Bonkers

Thank you for all your comments and emails about spiders. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in acting like a total nutter when I see one!

Thanks too to Shari and Lynne for suggesting the conker thing. I've just been out and gathered a huge boxful and I now have a one bowl of conkers in the shed, one in the upstairs bathroom and one on my bedroom windowsill. I've also gone and squirted liberal amounts of spider spray everywhere!

Held hostage by a spider

I'm all in a kerfuffle.

This morning I went down to the shed, as I do every beadmaking morning, in my dressing gown and slippers to switch the kiln on and get stuff ready for the glass-melting day ahead.

Thing is, this morning I went into the shed and did my usual spider check (any other arachnophobics probably know what I mean by that) and didn't see anything. I switched the heater and kiln on and grabbed my water jug of dead beads and went to walk back out when I saw it on the ledge of the door frame next to the door mat. An I'm-curled-up-pretending-to-be-dead massive, fat-legged, creepy-bodied spider. I stood there frozen, in dressing gown, water jug in hand. I prepared myself and then kicked the doormat against the door frame. This was to determine if the spider was alive or if it was indeed acting dead. Yep. It was acting. The bugger got up and scuttled off out of the shed but just sat there as if to say 'C'mon then. Step over me you big human!'. It knew I was terrified. I was doing my best to stay calm but I have a genuine, genuine fear of them and I started doing the cold sweat thing, all trembling and speaking in tongues - I have no idea what I was saying. I was like Regan from The Exorcist!

Now, you're probably thinking 'Laura, it's outside the shed now so just walk around it and back up the garden.' But I literally couldn't move. I couldn't squish it either. I can't kill anything. Flies, ants, moths and wasps all have a right to be here and I'd just rather let them out of the window or door than swat or squash them. So, after I calmed myself down and finished wringing my hands and breathing like a woman from an ante-natal class I got the water jug and splashed a bit of water next to the spider to try and shoo it out of my path. It started to work and I thought 'Phew - once it's on the lawn I can leg it up the garden'. But the eight-legged git soon worked out what I was doing and I could almost hear it chuckling and saying 'Ha ha ha! You'll never defeat me you pathetic human being!' in some sort of booming movie-baddie voice. Then it started to walk towards me. I'd run out of water. It was like a bit in a western where the cowboy runs out of ammo or loses his gun and he has no choice but to improvise with stuff around him. So I grabbed a broom and I thought I'd kind of brush it away onto the lawn. I made contact with the spider and pushed the broom but at the same time I got all scared and let go of it and it flew across the lawn and landed on the other side of the garden. But at least the spider was on the other side of the garden too. Phew.

But no.

The evil creature was still there. How did it manage that? So, I'd used my water and my broom and I couldn't see anything else long, pokey or useful. By now the spider was laughing loudly like Blofeld from a Bond movie and it was coming straight for me. I backed away looking frantically for something I could use to shove at it but it was too late. It came into the shed and crawled under my shelving unit. I legged it back up the garden in my dressing gown and slippers in the pouring rain.

Now I have a problem.

How do I go back into the shed knowing it's in there? Dad's not here to come and get the spider out. How can I sit there making beads knowing that it could emerge at any minute? I won't be able to concentrate because I'll be doing a spider check every five seconds.

Dang, I hate spiders. I know non-arachnophobics are probably thinking I'm exaggerating or being a huge wuss but spiders totally terrify me. It's a
proper fear I have, not just a girly dislike.

I'm off for a cup of tea and a calm-down!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Frit Lentils

My last beads for this week. I've made loads of glass gems these past few days!

I'm off up to Cambridge tomorrow for the weekend so I will 'see you' next week!

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

More 'Starburst' Lentils

But these ones are bigger. They measure 18mm diameter. My favourites are the red and yellow ones - I think I'm going to have to make me some!

Cold roast potatoes

For lunch I've just eaten five cold roast potatoes left over from last night's dinner. God, I love them! They're one of those foods that tastes just as good cold as it does hot. Like rice pudding, custard or chicken. Not pizza or quiche, though. I know a lot of people like those cold but not me.

It got me thinking about bizarre food-likings. I love Walkers cheese and onion crisps dipped in Heinz salad cream. I also love grated cheese on top of chips. A Twix or Drifter dipped in hot chocolate is pretty fab too.

So what about you - what unconventional food combinations do you like?

Monday, 8 October 2007

'Starburst' Beads

I love enamels. I love stars. I'm learning to love lentil beads.
Does it show?!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Playing with Palladium

I have a new bead obsession - palladium leaf. When treated in a particular way it yields metallic pinks, plums and greens. Just gorgeous!

These are some lentils in a new design I'm calling 'Starburst'. What do you think?

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Lenticular Learning Curve

These were the result of a self-taught 'how-to-make-a-difficult-to-make-bead-an-even-more-difficult-to-make-bead' lesson. A whole day's beadmaking and not many decent beads to show for it. (Lots of bad ones but they're all dead - I murdered them in my water jug. I'm a cold blooded bead killer!)

These are my 'Fusion' beads in a lentil shape. Now, you may be thinking 'So, you just squashed the bead?'. Yes and no. For a start I had to apply the enamel, murrini and stringerwork to a totally different-shaped base bead than normal. My ususal beads are kind of a fat donut (using the American spelling of 'Donut' instead of our stuffy 'Doughnut') shape. I normally make the bead, apply the components and whack it in the kiln. But with these you have to make an olive-shaped bead and get the amount of glass just right. Not too hard when you're making a relatively plain lentil but with these I have to allow for adding the stringer and murrini. Then squashing it is the nervewracking bit. It's the moment where all the hard work you've just done can be ruined in an instant.

I think I've mastered the non-ruining squashing technique - for this design, anyway.

So why the lentils? Mainly because I've had a few requests for them recently and the deciding factor was my friend Nicky coming round yesterday and telling me to 'make flat beads!' on more than one occasion. So I took her advice and here they are. First of many, probably!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Pastel 'Spangle' Beads

Pretty beads sprinkled with frit, cased in clear and decorated with fine silver trails.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Mmmmmm, chocolate!

More fusion beads, this time in a very chocolatey colour combination. They're even more chocolatey than the cocoa ones from last week!

Talking of chocolate, I visited 'Hotel Chocolat' in Cambridge on Saturday. In case you haven't heard of 'Hotel Chocolat' it's a very-naughty-but-oh-so-nice chocolate shop. If you haven't got one near you then do take a look at their website. I'm not sure if me going in there was a good idea or not, really. I mean I get their catalogue through the post regularly and I've eaten many a Hotel Chocolat chocolate that I've been given as gifts but actually going into the shop was a bit different. Chris has done a pretty good job of keeping me out of the shop in the past but I wanted to get a box of chocolates for a friend so I had a dang good excuse to go in there. And yes, of course I got myself chocolate. But the problem now is that I keep thinking of those slabs of chocolate, pink champagne truffles and cute little bags of chocolate drops . . . . . . . . .