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!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Beady Potpourri

Lampwork Bead MixA bit of an eclectic bead mix today. Precise polka dots, pink patterns and tiger-esque treasures.

I'm in need of some bead inspiration. If you've got any colour combinations or pattern ideas please leave them in my comments section. I also like to work with a name and then tailor the beads to suit. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Totally random now, but are there any Eastenders watchers reading this? If so, I've noticed something and I wondered if you have too? I'm not letching - muscly men don't really light my candle - but Christian can't seem to keep his kit on! I reckon he must have had some kind of 'vest clause' written into his contract because for the past couple of months hardly an episode has gone by where we don't see him wearing one. He often starts an episode wearing a jumper or a jacket but within minutes he's whipped off any outerwear and ends up serving tea in the 'caff' in his vest. It's like Christian's allergic to shirts or something. Has anyone else noticed?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

'Halloween' Boogaloobeads

Lampwork Glass BeadsI have absolutely no idea where this bead design came from. I just sat down at the torch, picked out some colours, pulled a bit of stringer and went with the flow and these 'Boogaloobeads' were the result. They're decorated with groovy squiggles and dots with raised-but-flattened bumps. Fun and funky!

I'm just about used to my new beadmaking set-up. I can't get over how warm it is in the conservatory. This time last year I was shivering away down the shed.

I did my first Oxford-to-Cambridge train journey at the weekend. It's so much nicer than the Southampton-to-Cambridge one! It's about twenty five minutes quicker, a fiver less and I'm now using Paddington station instead of Waterloo. Paddington is such a fab station - I love the architecture of it plus it's got a Paperchase, a Starbucks and an Eat. Brilliant! I've also realised that living here I'm only about a forty minute train journey from London so I may well have to do a spot of Christmas shopping in the Big Smoke this year .....

Thursday, 2 October 2008

'Pure Glass'

Lampwork Glass Lentil BeadsHere are those plain and simple beads that I made yesterday. I photographed them in the kitchen as the sun was streaming in through the window. I know they're only undecorated lentils but aren't they lush?! They just show off the sheer beauty of coloured transparent glass so well.

I'll be selling them as one lot tonight on my website. Just imagine the jewellery that could be made from these pretties!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Remember me?!

New Lampworking Set UpWell hello!

We've landed! The move went well and we've spent the past week unpacking things and finding them new homes. It's quite difficult to go from a big house to a small one. Square peg, round hole and all that.

The new house is lovely, the area is nice and the neighbours are great. Everyone around here is just so friendly! It's also really fab being a ten minute bike ride away from my grandparents. It felt very odd popping over there for lunch the other day when it used to take an hour-and-a-bit in the car to go and visit them!

I haven't got lost yet. Mind you, Dad did draw me a map that I've been taking out with me when I venture out on my bike. Yes - I really am that bad. Buster could have done with a map the other day. He went out early one morning and stayed out for seventeen hours which is unheard of! I was so worried about him. I thought he'd tried to do that thing that you hear of when cats try and return to their old home. Thankfully his cat-nav was working and at ten o'clock at night he appeared at the back door. Phew!

Dad and I spent Monday setting up my new work space - see photo above. It's very swish. My propane is outside in a little shed, I've got great light and ventilation, the conservatory is warm and spider-free and I've got my 'office' space next to my workbench. Beads By Laura Central, or what? Please ignore the masking tape that's holding my propane and oxygen hoses in place. I've got to get some clips for those. My desks are both very tidy at the moment - give it a week and I'm sure they'll look a bit different!

I've made beads today and I'll post a photograph of them tomorrow. Don't get too excited - they're just plain and simple lentils. Pretty, though. I made plain and simple beads for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I haven't made beads for about a fortnight so I've got to get back into the swing of things. Secondly, because the conservatory is so light and bright compared to my shed I had terrible trouble seeing the flame properly. To do my usual stringerwork I need to see exactly where the edge of the flame is. The flame is mainly blue and it doesn't help that my workbench is blue too. So I nipped to B&Q this afternoon (for about the tenth time in the past week) and got some black ceramic tiles to put on the bench in front of the torch. The flame shows up lovely now so I'll hopefully get some more complex beads made tomorrow.

Big thanks to everyone who has sent me 'new home' emails and cards - I'm going to sit down and set about answering those tonight. Now I'm all sorted the beadmaking and blogging will hopefully get back to some sort of normality!