Saturday, 30 January 2010

'Batik'

Lampwork Glass BeadsThe base beads in this set are made with a translucent white glass. When I added the violet stringerwork it looked pretty normal but as I heated the stringer in flush with the surface of the bead it started to do this slightly wiggly, feathery thing. Sometimes glasses react with one another to produce such effects. You can use those reactions to your advantage but sometimes the effect that happens isn't quite what you had in mind. Normally I would have sworn at the bead, killed it in the water jug and made a mental note not to mix those two particular glasses again but I actually liked the effect. I think it's got a Batik kind of feel to it.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Muchos Typing

Hello Beadpeeps!

We're having the back garden sorted out this week (it's a right old mess as anyone who has been for a lesson knows) and as such my propane is out of bounds but I should be able to get to it tomorrow so beadmaking will occur then.

In the meantime I'm writing a little beadmaking eBook. Muchos typing. It's bigger than a tutorial but shorter than a novel so I reckon that it definitely qualifies as an eBook. It will contain step-by-step sections but on the whole it is more informative than instructional.

For the time being I'm keeping the subject of my eBook under wraps although I'd wager that some of you can probably guess what it's about .....

It'll be available shortly so do stay tuned for more information.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Engagement Ring

Well, Chris collected my engagement ring from the jewellers but it doesn't fit properly! It's too tight so we took it back on Saturday and they're going to sort it out so I should have it (and hopefully it'll fit this time) next time I see Chris.

Curse my big fingers .....

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

'Sakura' Focals

Lampwork Glass BeadsThese are the first 'proper' beads I've made this year and I am SO pleased with them.

For almost four years (on and off) I've been trying to create a cherry blossom design on beads but I couldn't quite work out the best way to do it. This week I realised that I had been making things way more complicated than they needed to be. I've tried frit, encasing, enamelled stringers and more before but the effect always ended up muddy and blurred. I was aiming for a crisp, stylised but recognisable-as-cherry-blossom design and I've finally cracked it!

Lampwork Glass BeadsI wanted to give the beads a Japanese feel so I've used the traditional 'tombodama' olive-shaped bead that Japanese lampworkers favour and I've also given the beads the name 'Sakura' which is Japanese for, you guessed it, cherry blossom.

I'm chuffed to bits with them and I hope you like them too.

These focals will be for sale on my website at 8.30 pm (UK time) tomorrow night.

Jewellery by Nemea Designs

Necklace by Mary Kent at Nemea DesignsMary at Nemea Designs sent me some photographs of jewellery that she's made with my beads. It's so nice to see my beads all made up into wearables and I do so love the thought of people going about the place with my beads about their person.

The necklace at the top of the post features a simple white heart-shaped focal bead and the gorgeous necklace below contains some of my bright red enamelled beads.

Necklace by Mary Kent at Nemea DesignsMary has also turned some of my colourful plain lentils into simple earrings. The beads in these are made with a glass that is no longer made. Shame - it was really pretty.

Earrings by Mary Kent at Nemea DesignsIf you have a spare moment or two, head on over to Mary's website and take a look at her lovely work. She creates wonderful jewellery for adults and children and there is also a great range of beaded gifts too.

If you've got photographs of work made with my beads then please email them to me. I'd love to see them and they may even get featured here on my blog.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Green Feet

Hand knitted socksRemember that bright Kermit-green Smooshy sock yarn that I told you about?

Well, I've turned into socks. The pattern is Wendy D. Johnson's 'Swan Song' one and it's available for free. Please click here for the pattern page.

I loved knitting with this yarn so much I've bought another skein.

Dream In Color Smooshy in 'Blue Lagoon'This time it's a gorgeous colour called 'Blue Lagoon' and just like the green stuff I can't stop squeezing and smooshing it!

'Basic Round Bead' Tutorial

Basic Round BeadI know what you're probably thinking. A round bead tutorial? Isn't that a bit basic?

Well yes. But it's probably one of the most important things a beadmaker will ever learn.

Over the past five years I've taught many people how to make round beads and when I teach total beginners I tell them that in lampworking making a basic round bead is one of the hardest things to master. There is so much to learn and so much to remember.

I've decided to write down all I know and all the advice I have when it comes to making a basic round bead. This will hopefully be quite useful for beginners and intermediate beadmakers alike. I've taught intermediate beadmakers who can't make consistently round beads. I'm hoping that my waffle (and be warned, there's lots of it) will help you tame that molten glass.

In this ten page tutorial I show you how I make a round bead in detailed step-by-step photos and I also show you how to make consistently-sized beads. There's a section on troubleshooting too which should help you with any wonky bead issues you may have.

The PDF tutorial costs £4.99 and ordering details can be found by clicking here.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Cupcake End Is Nigh

Hello Beadpeeps!

I am here and fully aware of my lack of blogging. I've been busy doing other things like :
  • Teaching
  • Working on a couple of PDF beadmaking tutorials
  • Gradually getting rid of my bout of Beadmaker's Block
  • Catching up on Cupcake bead orders

And talking of Cupcake beads, I have come to a decision.

They're coming to an end.

Yep, you heard (read) it here first. I'll do an 'official' announcement on my website and mailing list shortly but I suggest that if you'd like or need some Cupcake beads that you get your order in now.

You see, I have a busy few months ahead. Chris and I are buying a house, then I'll be moving and then did I mention we're getting married?! ;o)

So with all that stuff going on I can't (and don't want) to have the added pressure of bazillions of Cupcake orders that'll need making. Yes, they make me money and yes they're nice and all that but I only ever intended to make them for a short while. I think with all the stuff I've got coming up that the Cupcake beads have reached their natural end point. I will probably stop taking orders for them at the end of February but in the meantime you can place your orders by clicking here.

Big thanks to everyone who has purchased my little glass cakes - I've made hundreds and hundreds of the little things and they've been a blast.

I will have some new beads to show you next week!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Wedding Q&A

So many of you have sent congratulatory emails and messages with regards to our engagement. We've received cards, flowers, chocolates and I've even been sent yarn to say congratulations! Thank you all very much indeed.

Along with those emails have come the inevitable wedding-related questions. Vik at Wild Fire Fibres just left a comment on my last post which encompasses virtually all of them. So here are her questions followed by my answers :

"Firstly a massive CONGRATULATIONS!!! Do you have a date yet? Dress ideas? Are you going to handmake some of the things for your wedding? Or are you just going to do it cheaply (like us) and whenever you get round to it (again, like us - been engaged 4 years!)? It's lovely to have a ring on isn't it :)"

Date
Yes, there is a date set. It's in September and I'll let you know the actual date when it's all been totally one hundred percent confirmed.

Dress
I haven't picked one yet but I know what colour it might be - kingfisher blue. Well, that's what I have in mind right at this moment. It could change. It won't be a 'proper' flouncy wedding dress. Again, I have a style in mind but I'm saying no more as Chris reads the blog and the finer dress details are staying secret until the day. He knows the colour I'm currently leaning towards but that's it.

Venue
Cambridge. It's going to be a register office do on a very small scale. There will be no reception or evening bash as such. We're still undecided - maybe we'll take our small wedding party out for a meal afterwards. The wedding will be small because neither of us want a big shindig. I've never ever wanted the big huge wedding thing and Chris certainly hasn't. I was shocked that he even proposed! So the wedding is going to be pretty unconventional, I guess.

Engagement Ring
Yes, there is one. Chris and I went to choose it on Saturday and again, it's not your traditional engagement ring. I don't actually have it on my finger as the jewellers are ordering the correct size in for me. There will be photos of the engagement ring as soon as I have it which should be in a couple of weeks.

So there you have it. In short, we're talking about a very small do without your usual wedding bells and whistles. The best wedding I've ever been to was the smallest, most unflashy thing you can imagine and it was just perfect. I hope ours will be too!

Triton Socks

Hand knitted 'Triton' socksWe're not even two weeks into 2010 and I've already knitted two pairs of socks so far this year. I just wish I was being as productive on the bead front but I'm not going to dwell on that .....

Anyway, these two pairs of socks are the same pattern knitted in different yarns. The pale blue ones are Rowan Cashcotton and the variegated ones are Wild Fire Fibres Manyana in 'Pixie'.

Hand knitted 'Triton' socksThe pattern is my own design and the socks are named Triton after the Greek god of the sea. The recurring lace motif is a bit like a trident and the wavy pattern in between them is quite sea-like.

Hand knitted 'Triton' socksI've written a pattern for these - it's my first knitting PDF. You can get the pattern as a free Ravelry download. The socks are knitted from the toe up and they have an Eye Of Partridge heel. The pattern is written for knitting on two circular needles but you can easily adjust it for working on DPNs. The pattern is both charted and written.

A big thank you to Chris who is responsible for the 'footography'!

I hope that fellow knitters will like the Triton pattern and if you do make any socks with it please do send me some photos of your finished work. I'd love to have a look!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Odd

I wrote two posts yesterday - one about snow and one about sock yarn.

I've just noticed that I posted the snow one at 11.56 and the yarn one at 23.56. How odd that I published posts at both 11.56s in the same day. A truly bizarre coincidence.

There is a lack of beads ..... but then you'd already noticed that, right? It would appear that I have started the year with a bout of bead funk. Long-term readers will know that this happens occasionally. There's nothing I can do about it - I just have to ride the bead funk wave and wait for it to disperse. I used to stress about it but I've learned that doing so just makes it worse so please bear with me and I'm sure that in a few days I'll have some glass pretties to show you.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Smooshy

Smooshy 'Spring Tickle' Sock YarnYes, Smooshy. And that's not me making up another silly word (you know how I like to do that). This is a fabulous sock yarn called Smooshy by Dream In Color. The shade is called 'Spring Tickle' and it's a wonderful array of bright spring greens. And Smooshy is definitely the correct word for this wonderful stuff. It's squidgeable, scrunchable, cuddlesome and downright lovely. I keep picking up the skein and giving it a squeeze and a hug! And yes, I do realise that I sound like a complete wrong'un but what can I say? I'm a sock freak. (Fellow sock knitters - you understand me, right?)

I ordered this from Pure Purl who have impressed me no end with their super-fast delivery and all-round fabulous customer service. My package of yarn was beautifully presented and I'll definitely be going back there to feed my (increasingly scary) sock yarn habit .....

So much snow!

Tree berries covered in snowAnd I love it. I feel like I'm on Hoth!

The snow is about seven inches deep here in Abingdon and it's still snowing now. They forecast even more snowfall tonight. I've been out walking in it (I must get me some wellies!) and it's so deep that you don't touch the ground underneath. You can't see your feet either - the picture below is of me walking along an undisturbed, pristine stretch of snow. Don't you just love doing that?

Walking through the snowI'm entranced by the trees - they look so pretty with their branches laden with snow. I always worry about the birds in this weather so I've put a little dish of bread and seed out in the shelter of the arbour in the back garden. I've just seen a robin stop by for a snack and against the snow he looked like something off the front of a Christmas card.

Snow-covered treesI don't think Buster's enjoying the weather. Mind you, it's so funny watching him trying to walk about in the snow. Last night he ventured out and came back in covered in snowflakes. Very cute!

Down by the brookI'm meant to be going to Cambridge on Friday but I'm not sure if that'll happen. When I spoke to Chris last night he said there wasn't any snow. Trains are running on revised timetables this end so maybe I'll be lucky.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Remember these?

Lampwork Glass BeadsMy 'Plume' beads. These are the beads that I've been trying to recreate on and off for over two years now. I've finally rediscovered how I made them ..... but is that a good thing?

These are fickle. And fussy. I think the reason I couldn't quite recall how I made them was because my mind had blanked out their annoying aspects!

Sure, they're pretty and effective and all that but my goodness, one bit of glass out of place or just using the wrong colour glass means the whole bead is doomed.

Recreating this design has been both an interesting and frustrating exercise but don't expect sets of these beads for sale. Why? Because for every decent one there are about eight failed attempts and that is NOT a good beadmaking ratio.

And this is why, lovely customers, I don't do commissions or remakes. Sometimes you just can't go back and simply remake something. I've spent two days on this design and those three beads up there are all I have to show for it. Time to draw a line under the Plume beads, methinks .....

Monday, 4 January 2010

I'm here .....

..... just not got much to say! First day back at the lampwork today - I've been trying to re-train my brain to make a style of bead that I haven't made for over two years now. Not being able to replicate this style of bead has been bugging the heck out of me but today I made a beady breakthrough and I've finally remembered how to do it.

Stay tuned to see what type of bead I'm on about .....