Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Final post of the year

Lego Star Wars AT-ATI do hope you had a wonderful Christmas?!

I had such a fantastic time in Manchester. It really was the best Christmas I've had in yonks! I bought Chris a Lego Star Wars AT-AT (he's thirty-two, but like me, in his mind he's only about fourteen) and on Boxing Day Chris, his brother Kev and I spent about three hours building it. It walks in that clunky, heavy-footed AT-AT way and its head moves about too. Dang, I love Lego! The other night I asked Chris to send me a photo of the AT-AT so I could blog it. I was expecting a grainy iPhone photo but I received this super duper Chris-enhanced image instead. He's a clever thing!

Did anyone see Eastenders on Christmas Day? Ha! I loved the whole thing about Christian's vest! (You may remember that I was on about that a while back.) I think the highlight of Christmas telly for me was the Gavin & Stacey special. I found Bryn's glee at the wonder of Mint Baileys hilarious! I'm so pleased that they're making a third series.

So have you eaten all your Christmas food and nibbles? The other day my auntie was saying how fed up she was with cold turkey but I love the stuff! I think I had three cold turkey dinners at Chris's parents' house. In fact I'm thinking of cooking another Christmas dinner this weekend just so I can have cold turkey, stuffing and oodles of pickled red cabbage again! Talking of food, remember how Chris got all arty with the mini party food the other week? Well, it's a case of Like Mother, Like Son because his Mum got all Delia with the salmon rolls and prawns on Boxing Day. Check this out :

Lynne's fancy salmon 'bunny' arrangement!  ;o)We're just hours away from a New Year. This year has been a particularly hectic one for me, what with the move and everything, and it would seem that 2009 is going to be just as busy. Chris and I are going to get a place together next year so I shall be moving to Cambridge at some point. It all feels mighty grown-up and tiny bit scary ..... but totally exciting!

Thank you for your custom and your interest in my work and waffle these past twelve months. Here's to a beady 2009! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Mele Kalikimaka!

That's Hawaiian for 'Merry Christmas!' in case you're wondering. No reason - I just thought I'd try a different festive greeting!

Well, I think I'm just about sorted. 'Fake' Christmas went really well and I've spent the past couple of days visiting relatives. I've just got to pack for Manchester now.

I had to nip to Tesco for some last minute things today. Oh. My. Goodness. That was a mistake! It was so busy in there it was untrue. Best of luck if you've still got the food shopping to do.

I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas! Eat much turkey and plenty of chocolate.

See you in a few days!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

'Waterfall Shimmer'

Lampwork Glass Nugget BeadsBlue frit and fine silver suspended in crystal clear glass, shaped into smooth, tactile nuggety shapes. These catch the light and twinkle beautifully.

So I'm guessing that these will probably be some of the last beads for this year as I'm in for a hectic few days. I've got to go and do the last of the Christmas present shopping tomorrow then I'm off to London on Friday, travelling back Saturday afternoon, then it'll be straight off to Tesco to get the Christmas vegetables and foody things because on Sunday everyone's coming for the 'fake' Christmas. I'll then have two clear days before I journey up to Manchester so maybe there will be time for one more full beadmaking day. I'll just have to wait and see how stressed I get!

Chris and I had a party on Saturday night. It was just a small gathering - Chris and I were the only guests! Mini party food seems to be being advertised left, right and centre so Chris decided that we should have a banquet of tiny treats. He got all Nigella and arranged the food in an artsy-fartsy manner .....

Mini Party FoodWe had small pizzas, little duck spring rolls and pig(let)s in blankets. Chris also bought some kind of miniature filo pastry parcel things filled with ricotta, spinach, goat's cheese and mushrooms but I wasn't having anything to do with those as I just don't trust white cheeses. My only exception to that is Dairylea and I don't think that actually counts as a proper cheese, does it?!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

'Heather Shimmer'

Lampwork BeadsThe name reminds me of that famous shade of Rimmel lipstick. My sister Sally wore Heather Shimmer for about three years solid as a teenager during the nineties!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

'Seafoam Shimmer'

Lampwork BeadsAren't these pretty? The seafoam colour and the pearly shimmer of the spacer beads makes me think of mermaids which in turn has had me humming 'Mermaids' by the brilliant Flight Of The Conchords all afternoon.

I just watched the local news which I normally find highly irritating, mainly due to the cheesiness of the presenters and the shoddiness of most of the news reports, but there was an entertaining story on there about a cat called Frankie who goes out and about stealing soft toys from the next door neighbours. It really made me titter! Here's a link to the BBC news video about Frankie the cat burglar.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Robin

RobinI was just sat having a cup of tea (and a mince pie) in the conservatory when I looked up and saw this beautiful robin in the back garden. I'm really pleased because I've been trying to encourage birds into the garden for a few weeks now. When we first moved here the back garden was pretty bird unfriendly. It had no grass and was just an arrangement of paving slabs, gravel, woodchips and a couple of flower beds. We've since put down some grass for the guinea pigs. I was really missing the birds and so was Buster. We used to get such an array of wildlife in the back garden at the old house and he would sit in the conservatory chattering to the birds in that funny whiskers-twitching-lots-of-tiny-miaows kind of way. He's far too lazy to be bothered to chase them so he just talks to them instead!

Anyway, after speaking to beadmaking bird guru Emma Ralph I put a couple of feeders in the back garden and for the past week or so the number of feathered visitors to the garden has increased. This morning I've seen starlings, pigeons, robins and blue tits. This little robin was eating the crumbs that the starlings had dropped from the feeder above. The picture's not brilliant as I took it from where I was sat with the camera set to maximum zoom but I think it's quite festive nonetheless.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

'Twinkle Twinkle'

Lampwork Beads With Fine SilverBlack beads decorated with trails of fine silver 'stars', cased in a thin layer of clear for depth and sparkle. This set also consists of shimmery spacer beads. These are clear glass rolled in a layer of mica powder, also known as 'Pixie Dust'. I do like the shimmery effect but heck, it gets everywhere when you're using it! I always forget what a mess it makes, albeit a pretty spangly one. I ended up looking like I'd spent the day with that Kirks Folly woman off QVC who insists on sprinkling her 'Follydust' all over the place!

Mince Pies

Homemade Mince PiesI spent this morning making beads and this afternoon baking mince pies. These are homemade all-butter shortcrust pastry filled with mincemeat, almonds, cherries and a slosh of Jack Daniel's for added Christmassy naughtiness!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Glam Tigers

Lampwork Tiger BeadsSome chunkier-than-usual tiger-esque beads. These have a little bit of goldstone inside them which catches the light and glitters beautifully.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Wiggledots

Black & White Lampwork BeadsIt's nice to finally have a batch of decent black glass! The last lot I had was awful - it kept pitting and going all scummy on the surface of any bead I made. I took delivery of a new wodge of black glass a week-or-so ago and it is pure glossy, shiny loveliness. I made these 'Monochrome' Wiggledot beads yesterday - simple but striking.

So how's your Christmas stuff going? Are you a super-organised shopper who has got everything bought, wrapped and stashed away or are you a leave-it-to-the-last-minute-and-panic type? I was the latter last year but I'm pleased to say that I'm somewhere between the two this year. I haven't written Christmas cards yet but I have done a lot of present shopping. I'm trying to do something Christmas-related every day. I'm having two Christmases this year, you see. On the 21st Sally, Paul, Robyn, Dylan, Emily and her fella Ben are coming to see us and we're all going to have a 'fake' Christmas day. We'll do all that we usually do but four days early. This is because Sally and Paul are spending actual proper Christmas with Paul's sister in Telford, Emily is spending the day with Ben and his family and I'm going to Manchester for three days to do the Yuletide thing with Chris and his family. So I have no option but to be a heck of a lot more organised than I was this time last year!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Thank You

Assorted Lampwork Glass 'Luminobeads'I'm a lucky beadmaker, you know. Here we are in the middle of a worldwide financial nightmare and I still have customers that support me and buy my beads. I just want to say 'Thank You' to all of my wonderful bead-buyers for your continued custom. It enables me to keep doing what I love and for that I am extremely grateful. So great big thanks to you all.

Thank you also to all the people who've booked beadmaking lessons. It'll be great to meet all of you and I'm sure we'll have an absolute blast of a glass-melting day! There are only four lessons left so if you're interested in spending a day of beadmaking fun with yours truly please email me for available dates.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

'Festive Glow' Luminobeads

Etched Lampwork BeadsWell, they look festive to me. I really like non-traditional Christmas colours like these. Amber, dark green and plum. Rich and warm.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Tuition

Due to very popular demand, I’ve decided to teach a limited number of one-to-one beadmaking lessons in the new year.

I have set aside twelve dates for teaching. These are every Wednesday from January 7th through to March 25th 2009.

I will teach you what you want to learn, be it basic beginner beadmaking or more advanced techniques such as stringer application and encasing etc.

Lessons will run from 10.00am until 5.00pm and all materials and refreshments will be provided. You may want to bring a packed lunch with you.

You will be making beads on my Carlisle Mini CC torch in my light and airy conservatory ‘studio’ in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. I’ll also provide lesson notes and lots of beadmaking books for you to look at.

Each lesson will cost £180.00. I will need a 50% deposit to secure your place with the balance payable on the day of your lesson. I accept payment by PayPal or cheque.

Please email me for further information, to book a class or to enquire about available dates.

These will be the ONLY lessons I teach next year.

Spotty Dottiness

Etched Lampwork Glass BeadsAs promised, a peeky sneak at some of yesterday's beads. These Luminobeads will be for sale on my website at 8.30pm tonight.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Productive day

Full KilnI know I've had a good beadmaking day when there are more mandrels in the kiln than there are in the water jug! Cooking away in Kenneth are a whole load of going-to-be Luminobeads. They just need cleaning and etching tomorrow and then I'll post photos.

Monday, 24 November 2008

'Berry Stripes'

Striped Lentil BeadsYes, even more striped lentils .....

'Beadoodles'

Lampwork BeadsJust doodling with stringer. Like you'd doodle on a notepad but doodling with glass on a bead instead, I guess.

I got a mention in this month's issue of Craft Business magazine. Nothing much - just a few comments from me about the current bead climate. The magazine is a good read. You can download the current issue along with loads of back issues by clicking here. The bead article starts on page fourteen of the November issue.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

And there's more .....

Stripy Lampwork LentilsI promised you more 'Candy Rainbow' lentils, so here they be!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Prize Draw Winner

Lego TombolaThis photo is of my prize draw Lego 'tombola' which my dad built for me today. Is that ever-so-slightly random or what? I think Dad actually quite enjoyed the challenge of making it and he even used a window brick with a fire logo on it to link it in with the lampwork. It works really well - winding the handle shuffled the tonne of names up an absolute treat!

Then I opened the Lego Fabuland (anyone else remember that stuff?) door to pick a winner and that lucky person is :

Well done, Ali. I'll email you for your address and I'll get the purple beads in the post to you. I hope you like them!

Thanks to all who entered - it was my biggest prize draw yet! I shall do another one sometime before Christmas.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Crazy Socks

Crazy SocksMy niece Robyn had an eye operation on Tuesday and today Dad and I went to see her. It's the first time I've been back to Southampton since we moved and it felt really odd to be just visiting. It was so nice to spend the day with Sally and the children. My youngest sister Emily also came over to Sally's so it was fab to see her too.

While we were sat chatting I noticed that we all had very colourful feet. I mentioned in my Seven Facts About Me post last month that I don't own a single pair of plain socks and it would seem that a non-boring-sock-owning policy runs in the family!

Clockwise from top left : Robyn, Sally, Dylan (bless!), me and Emily. I'm quite envious of Em's starry socks, actually .....

'Sugar Plum' Necklace

Necklace By Beth PortwoodBeth Portwood of Braganza Jewellery sent me this photo of her beautiful 'Sugar Plum' necklace that features some of my lampwork beads along with Bali beads and Karen Hill Tribe silver. I think it's wonderful! Please click here to take a look at Beth's Flickr photostream where you can see more of her lovely work.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

'Candy Rainbow' Lentils

Striped Lampwork Glass BeadsThese beads remind me of something you'd buy at Paperchase but in bead form. I had such a grin on my face when I opened the kiln and saw these beauties. I even did a little happy-happy bead dance to celebrate!

'Decadent Daisy' Cocktail Ring

Cocktail Ring By Melanie PoxonThis is a bit wow, isn't it?! This fabulous cocktail ring was made by Melanie Poxon of Kookie Designs. She's used two of my 'Funky Flowers' and a whole load of pearls, Swarovski crystals and semi-precious gemstone beads to create this eye-catching piece. It's just right for the Christmas party season! Please click here to visit Mel's website for more details about the ring.

Have you got any photos of jewellery that you've made with my beads? If so, do please email them to me - I'd love to see your work!

Strawberries

Lampwork Glass Strawberry BeadsThere are only two of these strawberry beads because I used up the last of my red glass making them but at just 12mm high wouldn't they make the sweetest earrings?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Could these be any greener?

Mosaic Green BeadsYou need to say the title of this post in your best Chandler Bing voice.

So these are those Mosaic Green beads that I mentioned in Thursday's post. Hmmm, pretty dang ..... green, aren't they?!

Florspace Goodies

Goodies From FlorspaceLook what I've got! Last week Lyn at Florspace posted a photo on Flickr of a plush Hello Kitty tape measure. I had a major I-need-that-item-in-my-life moment and was totally delighted to find that Lyn had one of these cute tape measures available in her Etsy shop. While browsing around all her lovely bags and purses I also found this gorgeous strawberry print MiniZ so that fell into my shopping cart too! Lyn's MiniZs are wonderful for keeping things sorted in your handbag. I have two in mine - I keep a few make-up bits in one and my iPod in the other. Love them!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Prize Draw

Prize Draw BeadsDeep purple glass under artificial light just won't behave for the camera so I photographed these lovelies in direct sunlight. These olive-shaped beads measure 17mm long and contain swirls of lavender and gorgeous deep purple along with tiny fine silver inclusions that twinkle like stars.

Do you fancy a chance of winning this trio of purple prettiness? If so, send me an email at laura@beadsbylaura.co.uk with the words 'Prize Draw' in the subject line. Please put your name in the body of the email. I will put all the names into a suitable receptacle (I haven't got a hat) and I'll draw a winner at 7.00pm on Friday 21st November. The draw is open to anyone anywhere.

Good luck!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

'Pretty In Pink' Lentils

Lampwork Glass Lentil BeadsMore adorned-with-dots lentils. Pinktastic!

I still have two crates of stuff from my old bead shed that I have yet to unpack. I was having a rummage through one of the crates today and I found a bundle of unlabelled glass rods so I did some experimental melting and discovered that what I have is a batch of Moretti Mosaic Green. Oh my - I reckon this could be fun stuff! I've never used it before (I have no idea how long I've even had this bundle of glass) but it does zany stuff to certain other glasses. The thing is, I like green beads but not many other people seem to so I won't go green-bead-crazy just yet. I'm in Cambridge this weekend but I shall make a set of Mosaic Green beads next week and I'll post them here and ask you for some feedback about them.

'Winterberry' Lentils

Lampwork Glass Lentil BeadsMany carefully placed dots and stripes of stringer make up the patterning on these berry-coloured beads which I've shaped into comfy-to-wear lentils. Yumma yumma!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

'Polar'

Translucent Glass BeadsThese olive-shaped beads are made from a beautiful translucent glass. I've kept the decoration simple - a kind of criss-cross design in fine white stringer. The spacers are crystal clear so that should help give you some idea of the actual colour of the main beads. I had to photograph these ones on sandstone because they just seemed to get 'lost' on a white background.

'Ribbit'

Lampwork Glass BeadsStrange name, I know, but for some reason these beads just say 'frog' to me. I think it's the combination of colours and the eye-like patterns that do it.

Friday, 7 November 2008

'Cinnamon' Floratabs

Lampwork Glass Tab BeadsOh, how I love these! Magnolia base beads dusted with cinnamon-coloured enamel and decorated with a white flower design. Each one of these tab beads takes half an hour to make but I reckon they're worth the effort! It was just so nice to sit and make these. They're fiddly and complicated (my favourite kind of beads to make!) but such a welcome change from the simpler-therefore-cheaper-to-buy beads that I've been making recently due to the 'current financial climate'.

While I was making these Floratabs I thought 'I'm actually enjoying this!' and I haven't really felt that way about beadmaking for a good couple of months now. In fact, although the oxycon breaking last week was a pain it was also a bit of a relief because it resulted in me having a few days off. My creative batteries seem to have recharged a bit!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Melting Again

Lampwork Glass BeadsNew beads are on their way. My oxygen concentrator arrived on Tuesday and it's working like an absolute dream. I can't believe how long I struggled on with the old one. Each day it was taking almost two hours to get working properly without switching itself off mid-bead. The new one works as soon as I switch it on which means I've gained a couple of extra beadmaking hours a day!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

RIP Mr Oxycon

I mentioned earlier that I thought my oxycon was on its way out and tonight he officially died. He's done well - they reckon a reconditioned oxycon should last two years and mine has been going for over three.

So now I have to buy a new one and this means I can't make beads until it's delivered. Rubbish!

Mind you, I'm up in Cambridge this weekend so no beads would have been made anyway. Let's just hope I can get a new oxycon delivered next week .....

Red Beads Past

Red Lampwork BeadsOooh, I've had a hectic couple of days! I went to London on Tuesday and I had a good old wander around the British Museum. I've never been there before but I've always fancied going. So many interesting things to see - the famous Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies and fabulous Japanese stuff. There's also loads of ancient jewellery. The Greek gold jewellery was beautiful and there were some Egyptian carnelian and stone beads that were seven thousand years old!

I did try making beads yesterday but the change in weather seems to have seriously affected the performance of my oxygen concentrator and it took over three hours to get working properly, by which time I was more than a bit miffed with it. I think I'm going to have to get a new one as this one really is on its last legs.

Nicky came to visit today! It was so nice to see her. We spent the day chattering and catching up. I haven't seen her for six weeks so we had lots to talk about!

Okay, bead talk. Because I don't have any new beads to show you I've put together this photo mosaic of red beads. I've had quite a few emails recently asking for red beads. I've only got a little bit of red glass left (must place a glass order soon) so I will make some in the not-too-distant future but in the meantime you'll have to make do with photos of red beads past!

Monday, 27 October 2008

More Luminobeads

Lampwork Glass BeadsI told you that I had lots of these in the pipeline .....

I suffered a random beadmaking injury today. I was placing a dot on a bead and I put it in the wrong place. This happens often and I undo the bad dot placement by nipping off the raised dot of glass with tweezers which is exactly what I did but the piece of glass that I tweezed off shot straight up my left nostril. That sounds funny, I know, but it flippin' hurt! Hot glass and noses do not mix. I was kind of half-laughing, half-yelping and my eyes were watering like mad. What a crazy thing to happen! I did manage to save the bead I was working on, though. Result.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Winner

While I was on the phone to Chris last night we were talking about my bead giveaway. He wanted to know if I actually do write all the names on slips of paper and then draw them out of a hat or if I was pulling some Blue Peter type scam and just choosing a name from a list of emails in some kind of lacklustre can't-be-bothered fashion.

I assured him that yes I really do sit and write many names on many pieces of paper, fold them all up, put them in a pot (in this case one of my glass rod jars) and then get Dad to draw a name. I told Chris that to prove I'm not hoodwinking anyone I'd take photos of the draw tonight. So here you are. Up there is the pot full of names and below is the winner.

Well done Helen! I'll email you for your address and I'll get the beads in the post to you.

Thanks to all who entered the draw. I shall do another one next month .....

All Aglow

Lampwork 'Luminobeads' By Laura SparlingLuminobeads, as requested. I have more waiting to be cleaned and etched but in the meantime I thought I'd show you these ones.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Prize Draw

This is just a quick reminder about the Prize Draw. Your entry needs to be in by 9.00pm tomorrow night. Please click here if you have no idea what I'm on about!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Revisited : 'Sweetshop'

Lampwork Glass 'Sweetshop' BeadsThank you all very much for your response to my post regarding old designs that you'd like to see again. Your suggestions are very much appreciated. Please do keep them coming!

Mel said that she'd like to see some more 'Sweetshop' beads so here we are - candy pink beads cased in crystal clear, decorated with my 'wiggledot' pattern in pale blue. Very girly beads, these!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Love the lovely brolly!

I did post this yesterday but because I detest photos of myself so much I un-posted it. Then I had an email from Nicky this morning asking where the post had disappeared to. I explained that I hate photos of me and that I thought I looked like an idiot. She assured me that I didn't so I've re-posted it. Drama!

Anyway, I saw this umbrella in Oxford the other week and I just knew it had to be mine so I went and bought it yesterday. I love it! It came from a fabulous little shop called Aspire which sells all sorts of gorgeous things. Click here to visit their website.

Input, I need input!

The other day Kerry over at Kab's Creative Concepts was talking about getting inspiration for new designs by refreshing old ones. So I thought I'd ask you which of my old designs you'd quite like to see again. I'm not talking remakes, I'm talking adjustments. Yes, adjustments. There may be a particular design you like but you'd like to see it in a different colour. Or perhaps you like the pattern on a set of beads but you'd like to see them squished into a different shape. Or maybe you'd like a set more if it had no raised dots . . . or indeed if it did have bumpy bits!

Please click here to take a look at my Flickr gallery of past work and please leave any beady suggestions you may have in the comments section here on my blog.

Thanking you muchly!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Forgotten Treasure

Prize Draw BeadsI was just sorting through a box of beady bits and I discovered these - a strand of simple encased beads. I think they may be made with the wonderful, multi-tonal Double Helix Terra. The odd thing is, I don't remember making these beads let alone cleaning them, stringing them and packing them away!

Then I got to thinking that they'd make a great prize in a bead giveaway so a few beads-in-the-sun photos later here we are. Hmmm, maybe that's why these beads never made it onto the website. The little buggers are really tricky to photograph. They have more purple in them in actual proper real life. Anyway, the beads measure 11mm in diameter and there are nineteen of them.

Do you fancy a chance of winning these pretties? If so, please send me an email at laura@beadsbylaura.co.uk with the words 'Prize Draw' in the subject line. Please put your name in the body of the email. I will put all the names into a suitable receptacle and I'll draw a winner at 9.00pm on Sunday 26th October. The draw is open to anyone anywhere.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

'In The Zone' Beads

Lampwork Glass BeadsI love to make these. I find their symmetry soothing and placing all those dots gets quite hypnotic. I could sit and make these kind of beads for hours and hours on end. I had my iPod on while I was creating these - Kaiser Chiefs, if you're interested. Their new album is pretty dang brilliant!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Good Weekend

Corpus ClockI always enjoy my weekends with Chris but this one was particularly nice. When I arrived at his flat on Friday night Chris had cooked me dinner which was lovely. His parents were down for the weekend so it was really great to see them too.

I didn't find the bridge that I was on about last week but Chris reckons he knows where it is so I'll go and see it another time. We did go and see the Corpus Clock, though. This sculptural clock is on the outside of the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College. It has no hands and the time is displayed by blue LEDs. A sinister-looking grasshopper type insect called a 'Chronophage' sits on top of the clock and due to some clever technical-mechanical wizardry he blinks every now and then. My apologies for the naff photo above. The clock is behind glass, hence the the terrible reflections. If you'd like to read more about the Corpus Clock please click here.

I still can't believe how fab the Oxford-to-Cambridge train journey is. It took me just over two hours to get home today (it used to take three when I lived in Southampton) so I was able to make a few beads this afternoon. They're cooking away in the kiln as I type so I'll post photos tomorrow.

Well and truly tagged

I've been tagged. Not once, not twice, not thrice but four whole times by Veryan, Lesley, Ali and Lyn. Thank you, ladies!

The 'tagging' rules are as follows:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Alrighty then. Seven things about me .....

1. I don't possess a single pair of plain socks. They're all bright and cheery with crazy patterns on them. I'm ever-so-slightly obsessed with striped socks - they're my favourite.

2. I can't be around air fresheners as I'm kind of allergic to them. They give me a really bad headache and they make me go all dizzy. Odd but true.

3. I have a thing for pickled red cabbage and I particularly like it with Heinz salad cream.

4. I love romantic comedy movies, especially British ones. Richard Curtis ones are the best. I can't tell you how many times I've watched Four Weddings & A Funeral or Love Actually. I know them inside out and back-to-front. Aren't I sad?!

5. I'm named after Laura Ashley. My Dad met her a few weeks before I was born and he really liked the name.

6. I really like playing Scrabble. It has to be the best game ever! I play against the computer on my laptop daily.

7. I have a washing up thing. I just hate to see a sink full of washing up. As soon as dinner is over and done with I have to wash up otherwise I can't sit down and relax!

So that's me. Now I've got to tag seven other people. Question is, can I find seven people who haven't already been tagged? I'll tag .....

Caroline at Uniqart
Janine at Cherished Trinkets
Jenn at Kanna Studios
Kelly at KEBO Jewellery
Magriet at Babushka Jewellery Design
Rach at Code Decoded
Steph at Handmade Heaven

Thursday, 16 October 2008

'Interplanetary Purpleness'

Lampwork Galaxy BeadsThese beads are like mini mauve galaxies. Swirls of purple and ink blue with tiny fine silver 'stars' encapsulated in crystal clear. Cosmic!

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

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

UFOs

UFO Lampwork Glass BeadsWhen I made the prototype of these I thought it looked a bit spacey. Otherworldly. Galactic. So I sent a photo of the bead to my fella (sci-fi oracle that he is) along with a plea for name ideas. Chris emailed me back with a long list of name suggestions and one of them was UFO - 'Unidentified Funky Object'. I liked it! So that's what these beads will be known as.

They're very tactile, twiddleable-with beads and contrary to what you might be thinking, they are comfy to wear. I draped a strand of them over my wrist to test the wearability factor. These ones are in delicate shades of green and blue but imagine them in black, white and clear. Or bright primary colours. Think of them in crazy, zingy way-out-there hues. This design has scope.

What do you think of them?

Kiln For Sale

If you're a new beadmaker or if you're thinking of taking up lampwork then you may be interested to know that I've just put Anthony, my old Chili Pepper bead annealing kiln, up for auction on eBay. I used this kiln for about the first year of my beadmaking and then I upgraded to my current kiln. Anthony (can you figure out why he's called that?) has been sitting on a shelf for about two years or so. He's a great kiln - shiny red and specifically designed for annealing beads. I bought him from the States and I had to buy a transformer to make him work over here and that transformer is included in the auction. I've just replaced the Chili Pepper's relay and the kiln is in full working order. Runs like a dream. Please click here if you'd like to take a look at the auction.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Happy Beads

Lampwork Beads By Laura SparlingPeriwinkle blue, yellow, orangey-red and lilac beads in an array of intricate designs. I took this photo to show how pretty these 'Carnival' beads look from the side.

I read a disturbing article on the BBC website this morning. It's all about freaky spiders coming to the United Kingdom. The day before we moved house I saw an unfamiliar-looking type of spider in the conservatory. I told Dad not to touch it because it looked a bit different to your average house-dwelling arachnid. Hmmm. I'm glad I did because having read this report I'm 99.9% positive that it was a 'False Widow'. I haven't watched any of the movies on the BBC site - the photos were more than enough for me! Seriously, I'm really alarmed by the thought of these alien spiders invading. I shan't be at all surprised if I have some kind of spider-related nightmare tonight . . . . .

Monday, 13 October 2008

Christmas beads already?

Lampwork Christmas BeadsI know, I know, it's only October but a whole bunch of you ├╝ber-organised jewellery folk have been asking for Christmassy beads, so here you go! It felt a teeny bit wrong to be making yuletide-type beads in October but when I strung these lovelies together I must admit that I did have a bit of an 'Aw, Christmas!' moment. Bright red and green enamel beads with white polka dots and some textured 'snowball' beads. Ho, ho ho!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

'Firework' Focals

Lampwork 'Firework' Focal Beads by Laura SparlingHere are those aforementioned beads. These comfy-to-wear squeezed beads contain fine silver and are decorated with 'fireworks' in various colours. At the centre of each one I've set a twinkly cubic zirconia. These focals are only decorated one one side so that they'll sit nicely when worn.

There's going to be fireworks!

Oh yes! Beautiful, sparkly 'firework' focal beads are cooking away in the kiln. A big thank you to Laura G who suggested I have a go at firework-inspired beads.

Please check back later today for photos . . . . .

Friday, 10 October 2008

Sightseeing

Radcliffe Camera, OxfordDad took me to Oxford today. I've been there before but I was really young and don't remember much about it. Mum and Dad were both born in Oxford and grew up here so wandering around the city with Dad was like wandering around with some kind of personal tour guide! I took these pictures with my mobile phone camera. Next time I'll take my proper camera with me and I'll get some better shots. The picture above shows the Radcliffe Camera. This used to house books but is now used as a reading room for the nearby Bodleian Library. The photo below is of Hertford Bridge which is more commonly known as the 'Bridge Of Sighs' because of its similarity to the 'Ponte Dei Sospiri' in Venice. Apparently Cambridge has a Bridge Of Sighs too. I'm going to try and find it when I visit Chris next weekend.

Bridge Of Sighs, OxfordI can't believe how big Oxford is compared to Cambridge. Some of the buildings are similar although the ones in Oxford seem taller. There are many fabulous shops - all the usual chain store suspects but they're mixed in with lots of independent shops and boutiques. There's also a wonderful covered market.

Blackwell's, OxfordIt's amazing how some of the shops look really small from the outside but seem to have some kind of Tardis technology that makes them ginormous on the inside. A good example of this is Blackwell's bookshop, pictured above. This is just a tiny part of it, but look - so many books upon so many shelves for as far as the eye can see!