Sunday, 31 August 2008

'Marzipan Fancies'

Marzipan Fancies Lampwork Glass BeadsYep - that's the name I went for in the end, as suggested by Mary. Mary - please email me with your full name and address and I'll get your lucky dip bag of beads in the post to you!

Thanks very much to everyone who entered the naming competition. There were some brilliant ideas there! I'll do another contest soon.

These 'Marzipan Fancies' beads will be for sale on my website tomorrow evening along with some Torus beads in the same colours.

Friday, 29 August 2008

These beads need a name

Lampwork Beads By Laura SparlingI'm back from my mini-holiday in Cambridge which was great. It was very odd to have nothing to do! I know I said that I was going to blog while I was away and I tried but while I was in the middle of drafting a post there was a power cut in Chris's flat. He was at work and I had no idea how to get the power back. This happens occasionally and normally Chris goes out to some wooden hut place out the back of the flats and twiddles some switches and the magic of electricity is restored. But I don't possess any magical-electricity-restoring-switch-twiddling knowledge and therefore my blogging plans went out of the window.

We went to see Star Wars : The Clone Wars on Monday. Oh dear. So bad. So very, very bad. I mean, I watched all three prequels with an open mind. I put up with the terrible scripts and dialogue, Ewan McGregor looking like Noel Edmonds, Anakin's constant whining, Boss Nass and the CG Yoda. I didn't even hate Jar Jar Binks half as much as most SW fans do. Because I love Star Wars. I've loved it since I was six years old. I spent every breaktime running around the school playground with Trevor, Tim, Paul and Mark (who were Luke, Han, Chewie and a Stormtrooper/Vader respectively) with my hair in side buns, firing my imaginary blaster (with terrible sound effects - try as we might, us girls will never be able to make proper gun noises like boys can) generally really wishing I could be Princess Leia. But The Clone Wars - aarggh! George Lucas, what have you done?! More bad dialogue, more annoying characters, more totally pointless stuff but most of all - most of all - Ziro The Hutt. Chris and I laughed out loud when he appeared on the screen, and not in a good way. We knew of Ziro and his make-up wearing ways but nothing could have prepared us for the sheer ridiculousness of him. Seriously, George Lucas needs to be stopped. Enough is enough! I said to myself that I wasn't going to mention The Clone Wars on my blog but I feel I have to because it's narked me so much. Actually, this morning I found the cinema ticket stubs from the movie in the back pocket of my jeans. They'd been through the wash. Those Star Wars ticket stubs - in pieces, tattered, scrumpled up and broken - summed up my feelings regarding Lucas's latest offering. *Sob!*

Anyway, enough of my Star Wars anguish. You want bead talk, right?!

On Saturday morning I posted the 'Psychedelic Peacock' beads to their new owner, Jennifer Borek, in Texas. Less than a week later they've reached their destination and have already been turned into wearable loveliness! Jenn has done a wonderful job with them and she's also written a lovely blog entry about my beads.

I didn't get many beads made today. Those five up there at the top of this post are the result of today's glass melting action. I reckon it's about time for a bead giveaway so if you can think of a name for these then please post your suggestions in my comments section. The person who picks the name I like the most will get a lucky dip bag of my lampwork beads. You've got until 8.00pm on Sunday night and then I'll announce the chosen name on my blog. Get naming!

Friday, 22 August 2008

'Psychedelic Peacock'

Psychedelic Peacock Lampwork BeadsThese have to be some of my favourite beads to date. The gorgeous green and pinky purple just seem to sing. They look so good together. Super duper! That's nice! (Excuse me - I watched Anchorman today.)

Big Hole Lampwork Beads For Pandora BraceletsWell, the big hole beads certainly seem to be a bit of a hit. They're now called 'Torus' beads thanks to Jo Sacker's excellent name suggestion and they sold out in minutes. Big thank you to all of you who bought them and also to those who tried to buy them but missed out. Fear not, there will be more .....

Fresh Bread
My bread turned out good! The kitchen smelt like a brewery what with the brown ale and the yeast doing their thing, but Dad seems to like the bread. Well, half a loaf has gone already so he must do!

I'm off up to Cambridge tomorrow and I won't be back until Thursday but I may well blog in between then. Have a great bank holiday weekend!

Big Hole Beads

Big Hole Lampwork Beads For Pandora BraceletsA rather ungracious name but it describes these perfectly!

These beads don't have a silver core and they're not going to get one either. That way I save time and stress (accidentally bashing up beads is quite disheartening) and in return that means that they won't be too pricey. Also, because of the lack of a silver core I can take the surface design right to the edges of the bead. The bead holes are 5mm diameter and the beads fit onto a Pandora bracelet, as shown, and will therefore fit all other collect-a-bead/charm bracelet systems.

But of course, they don't have to go onto charm bracelets. I'm sure you jewellery makers could find some interesting ways of incorporating them into your designs.

So what do you think? Should I make more?

Oh, and if you can think of a better name for them than 'Big Hole Beads' then please leave your name suggestions in my comments section!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

'Violet Sunset'

Violet Sunset Lampwork BeadsDeep purple with a fabulous orangey pink, or is it a pinky orange? Nice!

I'm off to make some bread now. Dad watched The Hairy Bakers earlier in the week and seemed to fancy the idea of the brown ale and cheese bread that they made so I've got the recipe and I'm going to make it for him. Hopefully. I haven't made bread since I was fourteen!

When the bread's made I'll settle down and write some long overdue emails .....

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

'Evil' Purple

EDP Test BeadsToday I've been playing with Effetre 254, also known as 'EDP' or 'Evil Devitrifying Purple'. It's a tricky glass to use but I wouldn't call it evil. Temperamental maybe. Sensitive, even. It feels the cold, poor thing, and likes to be kept nice and warm - the warmer the better. Be patient with it, treat it nicely and it'll blossom into soft purples and rich orchid pinks. Yum!

I made this bunch of test beads to pin down a colour combination to make a batch of beads with. All feature EDP over bases made from different 'reactive' colours. I particularly like the ones with a green base so expect to see more of those soon.

Another ring . . . . .

Silver & Amethyst Daisy Ring By Nicola Ryan..... and isn't it a beauty? I asked Nicky to make this for me. Not long after she started silversmithing she made herself a pretty little daisy ring and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have one. So Nicky made this one for me and she's set a really beautiful, sparkly amethyst in the centre. I love the way that the petals reflect the colour of the stone. Sheer loveliness!

Our wonderful language

I love the English language. I studied it at A-Level and found it totally fascinating. I've even considered doing an Open University course in it. I'd also love to study Latin but I can't find anywhere that does part time courses. What can I say? I like words!

I received a really good email today all about the eccentricity of the English language.
I think it's very clever so I thought I'd post it here on my blog.

'Ode To Plurals'

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Then shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!


Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England.

We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

Anon

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

'Rhapsody In Pink'

Pink Lampwork Beads By Laura SparlingI had my classical music album on while I was making these (I've got eclectic taste in music, me) and when I heard Gershwin's fabulous Rhapsody In Blue I knew that these beads would have to be called 'Rhapsody In Pink'. I think the name suits them.

I had more spider hassle today. It was a different one from yesterday - he was about three times the size! There was no way I could have worked in the shed with it there so I went and got Andrew, my next door neighbour, to come and evict it for me. Andrew was telling me about how he got bitten by a spider once. Bitten. By a spider. In his house. Next door. That is scary and way too close for comfort!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Out of my comfort zone . . . . .

Merry Berry Lampwork Lentils..... and I like it! Oh yeah. I feel dangerous. I feel edgy. I feel rebellious. I feel a little bit bead-naughty. Oooh mamma - check these babies out! Shiny lentils in my 'Merry Berry' colours but in a funky-groovy-retro pattern. I like them so much because in making them I feel that I've made a real step forward in my efforts to back off the glass and stop being so controlling over it.

Beadmaking ActionI applied my dots in a meticulous-but-not-quite-as-meticulous-as-usual way and then I got brave and squashed the bead in my lentil press with no idea as to what the design would end up looking like. *Gasp!* That's so not like me!

So what do you think of the lentils?

I had spider issues today. There's a really evil-looking one in the shed and it's been lurking there for days. Chris made an attempt to remove it when he came down last weekend but the conniving little arachnid ran away when he approached it brandishing a 3/32 mandrel and a piece of paper. (Them's proper spider-removal tools, don't you know?!) Since then I've had that there's-a-spider-in-this-shed feeling and I haven't been 100% settled while making beads. Today I caught sight of the spider scuttling across my noticeboard in front of my torch. I whacked the propane up on my torch which turned it into a Ripley-style Alien-frying flamethrower device and watched as the spider legged it across the wall in fright. I have no idea where it went but I didn't see it for the rest of the day. I freakin' hate spiders!

I'm a glass control freak!

Yes, that I am, but then you already knew that, right?!

My latest Watch Me Create post is about trying to stop myself being such a glass control freak, my 'Merry Berry' beads and working with glass that I don't get on all that well with. Please click here if you'd like a read of it.

Bead chat later .....

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Fortune Telling Teacup

Paragon Fortune Telling TeacupI spent most of yesterday sorting through the boxes of things that Auntie Joyce left me. There are so many interesting little bits and pieces - a right old mix. I've put some of them up on eBay including a revolting, terrible, horrible figurine - possibly Staffordshire - of a girl riding a goat. It really is quite tragic.

I'm hanging onto a couple of things, though. I just love this teacup and saucer. It's Paragon fine china and from what I can gather it's from about 1932. It's a beautiful pale blue with slightly raised white clouds and gilding. Inside the teacup there are lots of interesting symbols and the words "Many curious things I see when telling fortunes in your tea".

Paragon Fortune Telling TeacupI assume that the idea was you'd have a cup of tea and afterwards the tea leaves would settle on various symbols, thus telling your fortune. I don't believe in any of that stuff but it's a pretty little item nonetheless. It's quirky. I like it!

Please click here if you'd like to see some more photos of the teacup and saucer.

The Clarice Cliff Quest is moving along really well. I joined the forum at www.claricecliff.co.uk and have had some very helpful responses to my post. It looks like the dinnerware is from 1940 and apparently the pattern name is 'Patricia'. That's slightly uncanny - my Mum's name was Patricia.

I'm off to sort the kitchen cupboards and drawers out now. This moving house lark is a right chore, I can tell you!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Look what I found!

Clarice Cliff DinnerwareYesterday's loft clearance went well. My Uncle Matthew came down from Oxford to help and we had the loft totally emptied within three hours. We've also sorted through most of it so Project Loft is moving along nicely.

I did have a bit of a find. Almost ten years ago my Grandma's cousin Joyce died and she kindly left me a share of her crockery, china and glassware in her will. I went along and collected umpteen plates, vases, bowls, cups and saucers and I carefully wrapped them all in newspaper and boxed them up. I made a note on the lid of each box describing its contents and then put them up in the loft.

Yesterday Uncle Matthew handed me a box that said 'Clarice Cliff' on it in my handwriting. Then he handed me another and another. Ten years ago I obviously had no idea who Clarice Cliff was. I mean, I'd heard the name but at the time it didn't register. But now, with a good few years of watching Flog It, Bargain Hunt, Antiques Roadshow and Cash In The Attic behind me I realised that those three boxes could be pretty important!

Clarice Cliff DinnerwareThey contained thirty three pieces of dinnerware in total - six dinner plates, six large side plates, five bread plates (obviously one got broken at some point), six soup bowls and soup bowl saucer things, one large platter, one smaller one, a tureen and lid and a sauce boat. They're marked 'Royal Staffordshire, A J Wilkinson Ltd' and they have the Clarice Cliff stamp on them too. I spent most of last night trawling the internet for information about my find but to no avail. I found one reference on the whole of the web which suggests that that my Clarice crockery is from circa 1930, but apart from that I know nothing about it. I can't even find a name for the design but what I have gathered is that the crockery is not the sought-after 'high end' Clarice Cliff stuff.

Whatever its value, it's a great find and I'm sure I shall be spending lots more time trying to find out more about my Clarice Cliff dinnerware. If anyone out there reading this has any knowledge about it I'd love to hear from you. Please send me an email at laura@beadsbylaura.co.uk with any information you have.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Janine Byrom's Seashell Necklace

Janine Byrom Seashell NecklaceIsn't this beautiful? This 'She Sells Sea Shells' necklace was made by Janine Byrom of Cherished Trinkets and when I saw it on her Flickr photostream last night I was gobsmacked! Janine has used a set of my glass Seashells along with some of my Wiggle beads to create this summery necklace. Don't the beads work well together? I think they look fabulous with the gold. You can read more about Janine's gorgeous necklace on her blog.

I always love to see what my customers do with my lampwork. My beads leave me and go off on their travels and I'm always left wondering what they get up to. If you've got photos of jewellery made with my beads please email them to me - I'd love to see!

Right. The skip's just been delivered so I'm off up into the Temple Of Doom loft. Who knows what I'll discover?! Wish me luck .....

Thursday, 14 August 2008

More 'Merry Berry' . . . . .

Merry Berry Lampwork Beads..... but sans bobbly bits this time. These seem mighty popular so I may well be making some more. They've got such a gorgeous pinkypurpleness about them!

Canned Heat

I've been making beads to the sounds of Jamiroquai today. One of my favourite Jamiroquai tunes is Canned Heat and whenever I hear it I always think of the dance scene in Napoleon Dynamite. I love that movie! If you've never seen Napoleon's dance, take a look at the video above. His moonboots are ace!

I'll post again later tonight with bead photos . . . . .

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

'Merry Berry'

Merry Berry Lampwork BeadsAfter purchasing a copy of Sarah Hornik's excellent Think Pink! E-Book I decided to get my Rubino Oro glass out and have a play. I'm glad I did. These 'Merry Berry' beads featuring deep, rich pinks were the result. Quite vibrant, aren't they?

You may have noticed that I've done a spot of blog re-decorating. I've been twiddling about with templates on and off for weeks trying to find one that I like and I've finally settled on this one . . . . . for now!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Fizzybubblyloveliness!

Seeded Glass Lampwork BeadsI'm liking this seeded glass. It's 'fizziness' makes the beads sparkle and twinkle and anything that sparkles and twinkles is always a hit with me!

I took the afternoon off today to empty the cupboard in my bedroom in preparation for the move. That might sound like a small task but trust me, it was a mammoth one. It's one of those cupboards that's full of stuff that you don't want to throw away just in case you need it again for some strange reason. When I was a kid I used to use the cupboard to perform lightning-fast bedroom tidying. I'd open the door, sling all my junk in and quickly slam it shut. That backfired on me once when Mum came upstairs to do a bedroom check. She opened the cupboard and a load of clothes, shoes, cassettes, soft toys and several dozen copies of Smash Hits fell out into a big heap on the floor!

I found a couple of those copies of Smash Hits in the cupboard today along with some old Jason Donovan cassettes, my Take That scrapbooks (yes - I was that sad), my A-Level Art coursework, a framed photograph of Hugh Grant (from the Four Weddings floppy-hair era), some shockingly bad photographs of a seventeen year old me, a scrotty old pair of Brian-the-snail-from-The-Magic-Roundabout slippers, a tattered poster of Damon from Blur, an equally tattered one of Jarvis Cocker and many many other random things! It took me a few hours but I eventually got it all sorted. The cupboard yielded two huge bags of rubbish and one huge bag for the charity shop. All that's left in there are my CDs and the shockingly bad photographs of a seventeen year old me!

The next task is the loft which we're going to tackle on Friday. It's going to be a nightmare! It contains thirty years worth of junk including old bikes, old furniture, thousands of books and hundreds of old toys . . . . . not to mention cobwebs and spiders. Gah!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Pink!

Pink Lampwork BeadsWhenever I make pink beads I always think of one of my first ever custom bead orders. The beads were for a lady who is totally obsessed with the colour pink! That lady's name is Maria and I've decided to name this strand of very pink beads after her.

And talking of pink I treated myself to this fabulous ring the other day. Steph at Handmade Heaven has started making bold, funky, fused glass rings. This 'Mint Blossom' one is from her 'Stax' range and when I saw it on her blog the other day I just knew it had to be mine!

Fused Glass Ring By Steph JonesMake sure you take a look at Steph's website. She has some more 'Stax' rings on there in an array of wonderful colours as well as some very cool 'Bubblz' rings too. Then there's Steph's coasters, bowls, cufflinks, notebooks, cards and many other awesome items as well. Handmade Heaven indeed!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Old Favourites

Laura Sparling Lampwork BeadsMy favourite kind of beads to make - lots of stringer, many dots and a whole load of precision! I was on a bit of a roll with these 'Serenity' beads. I'm really pleased with the colour combination. I love purple and teal together and I think that the glacier blue works nicely with them. Very relaxing colours.

My glass order finally arrived and I've been playing with seeded glass which is packed full of tiny microbubbles. It gives a wonderful fizzy effect. These 'Pink Froth' beads are pink seeded glass cased in clear.

Seeded Glass Lampwork BeadsI've got clear, pale blue and pale amber seeded glass too so I'll be experimenting with that next time I'm in the shed. Plus I've got a new stash of pink and pale green glass and you all know how much I love those two together! Glass orders are great - my head gets full of beady ideas as soon as I open that box, dive into the polystyrene packing chips and break open that bubblewrap. I'm easily pleased, me!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

'Vertigo' Beads

Laura Sparling Lampwork BeadsWhirls of lime green glass encapsulated in crystal clear. Swirly!

If you're a fellow beadmaker you may be interested to know that my latest Watch Me Create post is a tutorial for my 'Petal' beads. Please click here if you'd like to take a look.

Monday, 4 August 2008

'Deckchair'

Laura Sparling Lampwork LentilsThe colours and stripes on these lentils remind me of deckchair material. There are actually five beads in this set but the fifth one kept interrupting the Feng Shui of my bead arrangement so I left one out for artistical-photographical purposes!

My new lampworking space

New Lampworking SpaceWhen we move I'll be leaving my beloved shed behind. *Sob!*

But all is not lost .....

..... I'll be working in this lovely conservatory. My new beadmaking setup will be just there on the left. Dad and I are going to design and build a flash-and-swanky desk with a ventilation system and everything. It's going to be good!

Friday, 1 August 2008

A little bit stressed

Laura Sparling Lampwork BeadsThese 'Cosmic' beads are some of the few I've made in the past couple of days. There's been a lack of glass-melting action this week and bead production will probably decrease a bit more over the next month or so. The house is sold and it's all gone a bit manic. We've got a cash buyer (a good thing) and the house we're moving to in Abingdon is empty so it's all moving very fast. There's such a lot to do. Emptying the loft which contains thirty years of junk is the thing I'm dreading most. A free weekend would be a handy thing but tomorrow Dad and I are in Abingdon for a friend's 60th birthday do and the following weekend is Dylan's Christening. So cupboard clearing, junk slinging, packing away and boxing up is going to eat into my working hours. I predict stressful times ahead . . . . .

I went out for a drink and a natter with Nicky last night. We couldn't decide where to go and in the end we chose The Jolly Sailor. This is a really old pub down next to the water. Actually, here's a useless fact for you - it was the pub that was used in the eighties television 'drama' Howards' Way. Anyway, a few months back I asked Nicky if she could make me a Star Wars necklace but I wanted it to be a subtle-and-not-instantly-recognisable-as-Star-Wars necklace so we decided to go with the Rebel Alliance logo and this is what Nicky made. I'm so pleased with it. Thank you, Nicky!

Nicola Ryan Silver Star Wars NecklaceWell, I'm off to the shed now to see if I have any kind of beadmaking power. I hate the way that my mood affects my work. If I'm in a good mood I can sit and make beads for hours but if I'm worried or stressed it all goes wrong. Fingers crossed it's a good day . . . . .