Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Big Prize Draw Winners

I've just drawn three numbers using www.random.org and I've counted down through the comments (all 172 of them!) and I've got Dad to double check and the winners are :

Random Number 104 JC wins Prize One
Zuleykha's four flower beads, my mushroom dangle and one of Lyn's cupcake MiniZs.

Random Number 162 Kelly wins Prize Two
Janine's Alice necklace, one of Lyn's cupcake MiniZs and my scrollwork dangle.

Random Number 31 Jessica wins Prize Three
Joy's pack of Art Clay Silver, my cupcake dangle and Lyn's dotty MiniZ.

Well done to the winners! Your prizes will be on their way to you this week.

Massive thanks to all of The Big Prize Draw sponsors and also to everyone who took part. The next draw will take place at the start of April.

Wedding Dress Success

I didn't expect to find my actual wedding dress yesterday ..... but I did! We were only going for a look-about but now it's hanging in my wardrobe all zipped up in a posh dress bag. I also got Robyn's bridesmaid dress which she looks gorgeous in.

The dress I bought was the second one that I tried on. As soon as I saw myself in the mirror I knew that it was the one for me. We did look in other shops but I kept comparing all the other dresses to the one I'd found and in the end we went back and I got it.

It's not kingfisher blue. In fact, it's not blue at all. I'm going to keep the colour a secret from Chris so that it's a surprise on the day which unfortunately that means I can't tell you what colour it is either as Chris does read my blog. So I'm afraid you'll have to wait until September to find out .....

Friday, 26 February 2010

Wedding Frippery-Faffiness

Lampwork Cupcake BeadsI made these yesterday.

I made even more of these this morning.

Then I promised myself 'normal' beadmaking time after lunch.

Nothing. Normal beadmaking batteries are flat.

Rubbish.

Now I'm off to look at houses on the interwebs and then I'm going to flick through a wedding magazine to look for dress ideas as Sally, Robyn and I are going for a wedding dress look-about tomorrow. The wedding isn't until September 24th (yep, that's right - the date is set and the register office is booked) but I need to get a dress sorted soon so we can decide what other colours and things we'd like. Emily and Robyn are being bridesmaids. Em gave me no choice in the matter - she just told me she was being one (I'm totally aware that her six-foot-tallness, gorgeous figure and stunning looks will show me up in any wedding photos but she's my little sis!) and how could I not have Robyn as a bridesmaid? When I asked her she said 'Of course I can do that for you, Auntie Laura!' which I thought was so sweet. I told her that one of the reasons I was asking her because no-one has ever asked me to be a bridesmaid. Good job really, I'd have probably kicked up a right stink about having to wear a dress.

Tell you what though, I can't believe the load of unnecessary wedding-related faffery that exists! I used to make wedding cracker favours yonks ago (fairly unnecessary) and we advertised in a couple of bridal magazines which I only ever glanced at but I seriously cannot believe some of the stuff you can buy for weddings. One thing I saw in my magazine was lavender-filled fabric hearts to hang on the back of the guests' chairs at the reception. Is this in case the guests smell? And at eight quid a piece that would work out at a mighty expensive chair-scenting gesture. Oh, and the price of wedding cakes! I saw a picture of one and I thought 'That's pretty!' and it nonchalantly said £630 next to the photo. What? It's a cake! I'm not a tightwad by any means but that's crazy money. And also how much are tiaras? Not that I would contemplate wearing one (I would look foolish and would feel even sillier) but I saw one priced at £200. Two. Hundred. Pounds.

Thank goodness Chris and I are agreed on a small wedding. All this house mortgage stuff is daunting enough on its own without needing to get another mortgage for the flipping wedding! Having looked at the magazine I am fully aware that I'm a bit of an unconventional bride-to-be (or 'b2b' as all the cool kids are saying) as I don't want any of this frippery-faffiness. All I would like is a nice day getting wed to my fella (or 'h2b', apparently), to spend the day with the people that we love, to wear a nice dress and to have some nice food. And pudding. ;o)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Blogroll

I've just added a blogroll to the right hand side of my blog. I read loads of blogs but I've set my blogroll so that it only shows the twenty five most recently updated blogs that I follow or you'd be scrolling down the page forever! I like blogrolls - they're a good way of finding new blogs to read.

(How many times can I write the word 'blog' in one post?!)

Fabulous Fordite

ForditeHave you seen or heard of 'Fordite' before?

If not, would you believe that this beautiful stuff is made of paint? It's layer upon layer of car paint. Fordite comes from old automobile factories and it's now in limited supply because it was a by-product of the hand spray-painting process which no longer happens. All cars are painted by machines and high-tech processes these days.

ForditeThe pieces of Fordite in these photos came from the British Leyland factory in Cowley in the early seventies. How can I be so precise? Because my Dad made these! We have three pieces of Fordite (or 'Leylandite' as Dad likes to call these) but I can only find two of them at the moment. I remember sitting on Mum's bed as a child having a good old sort through her jewellery box and these pretty pieces always fascinated me. Back in the day Mum used to wear the triangular one as a pendant. Groovy!

ForditeDad said that the overspray from the car painting process used to build up on the trolleys that carried the car bodies, colour upon colour, layer upon layer and these pieces of Fordite/Leylandite contain all the British Leyland car paint colours from the early seventies. Dad and his workmates used to chip off chunks of built-up paint with a screwdriver and they would then cut and polish them into all sorts of shapes. Dad said it is very similar to working with acrylic or Perspex.

ForditeI think this material is fantastic - it's like funky agate. You can still get hold of it in the form of cabochons and shaped pieces on eBay and suchlike but as I said, it's no longer made so what's out there is all there is. There is a great website dedicated to the wonder of Fordite - www.fordite.com - which has a wealth of information on this wonderful stuff. There is also a whole host of photographs of handmade jewellery featuring Fordite over on Flickr.

Fab stuff!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Uh-Oh Yellow!

Yellow Lampwork Glass BeadsWhy do I do it?

Everytime I have the urge to make yellow beads I always tell myself 'They'll look rank so don't waste the time, glass and gas, Laura!' but I never listen to me and off I go. I make one yellow bead and I think 'Aw, that's nice!' and I make another couple and they look all Springtimey and pretty and I think to myself that this is going to make such a lovely Eastery kind of set and by the time the beads are all baked and cool I'm like 'Oh yeah. That's why I don't make yellow beads!' and I'm never happy with them.

This set of yellow beads is no exception. Next time I get the yellow bead urge I shall make sure that I don't act upon it.

EDIT : I just want to point out that I don't hate yellow as a colour. I like it in moderation and as an accent colour but I find that as a predominant bead colour it's just not for me.

Laura Random Giveaway

Lampwork Glass Beads by Laura Sparling*** THESE RANDOM GIVEAWAY BEADS HAVE BEEN CLAIMED ***
And the winner of them is Vivian from Texas, USA.

Please keep an eye out for more Random Giveaways in the future .....

Note : For all of the details regarding my Laura Random Giveaways please click here.

The Return of The LRG!

Long-term Beads By Laura followers may well remember that a few years ago I used to do LRGs - 'Laura Random Giveaways' - on my website. Well, I've been thinking and guess what? Yep, that's right - I'm bringing them back! From time to time (normally once a week) I will be posting a Random Giveaway here on my blog. The prize up for grabs may be a single bead, it might be a few beads or maybe it'll be a pendant or earrings but to win it you'll need to be the first person to email me with your full name. It's that simple - the first person to email me will receive the prize. You can be anywhere in the world - it's just first come, first served. Once the prize has been claimed I will say so on the Random Giveaway post.

I won't be giving you any advance warning of these little giveaways - you're just going to have to keep your eyes open but as an introductory, one-off clue I will tell you that the first Random Giveaway will be posted here on my blog at some point today so, in the words of Shaw Taylor, keep 'em peeled .....

To make sure you keep as up-to-date as possible with Random Giveaways please add yourself as a blog follower or you can subscribe to my blog by email or RSS feed. All links for subscriptions can be found over there on the right hand side of my blog.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

'Blue Spottiness'

Lampwork Glass BeadsI've been playing about with new (to me) Creation Is Messy glass colours. This spotty blue set uses three of CiM's large range of fabulous blues. The blues I've used here are 'Fremen', 'Grumpy Bear' and 'Smurfy'. I find I am using Messy glass more and more in my beadmaking. The colours are so rich and the glass is a joy to work with.

Friday, 19 February 2010

'Avocado'

Lampwork Glass BeadsI created this green colour by layering glasses on top of one another and the result is virtually the same shade of avocado green that our old 1970s bathroom suite used to be. Nice! I like earthy greens as they work well with browns, creams and grey-blues.

When I settled down to make these beads yesterday I was totally relaxed. I'd finished a batch of Cupcake orders and I felt good about making beads! That just assures me that I've done the right thing by ending the Cupcakes.

I'm awaiting the arrival of two glass deliveries at the moment - one from the UK and one from America. The American order contains exciting new glass colours that I can't wait to try. Again, I'm feeling a tiny little bit excited about making beads once more and that's a good thing!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Tuition at Fire Works, Bristol

I'm going to be teaching an intermediate beadmaking course at Fire Works gallery and studio in Bristol on April 10th.

All of the course details can be found here. Please contact Georgina at Fire Works if you're interested in booking a place.

Monday, 15 February 2010

'Turquoise Spottiness'

Lampwork Glass BeadsApparently turquoise is going to be very in this year. Again. It's not one of my favourite glass colours - I prefer to use it as an accent colour but in this set I've gone heavy on the turquoise. The beads are encased and decorated with random lavender spots.

Cupcake Bead Tutorial

Lampwork Glass Cupcake BeadsThat's it. All the orders are in and I already feel a million times better. Now I can work through my stack of orders knowing that they will end. Thank you to everyone who bought my Cupcake beads and pendants and made them such a success.

And now, after about a year of making them on an almost daily basis, I've decided to set the Cupcakes free! Yes, I'm releasing them into the wild in the form of a tutorial.

This ten page tutorial shows you how I make my basic Cupcake bead shape and how to add a cherry to the top. It doesn't go into details about decorating the cakes as that is entirely up to you. The lampwork Cupcake Bead Tutorial costs £5.99 and all of the ordering details for it can be found by clicking here.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

An Official Chocolate Day

Valentine's Day ChocolatesThere are four days of the year when it's perfectly acceptable to eat chocolate for your breakfast. Those times are your birthday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Valentine's Day. I have been known to eat chocolate for breakfast on other days but we won't talk about that .....

So first thing this morning I revelled in the fact that's it's an Official Chocolate Day and I broke open a beautiful box of
Hotel Chocolat loveliness that my fantastic fiancé sent me for Valentine's Day. The chocolates are so pretty - there's lots of pink and dashes of red and they are utterly delicious. Thank you, Mister G!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Cupcaked Out

I've brought forward the end date for Cupcake bead orders.

I originally said that I would take orders up until February 28th.

Now I have a wodge of orders so big that I just can't concentrate on my normal beads because the Cupcake order stack seems to sit there and look at me with a 'MAKE US!' stare.

It's driving me insane, basically. I've spent all morning making crappy beads because my mind's not on what I'm doing. The water jug is full and my kiln isn't and that's not good. I need to bring the end date forward so I can see that the end is in sight, if that makes sense?

So the closing date for Cupcake bead orders is now Sunday 14th February. Please make your purchases by 8.00pm (UK time) and I will get them made and out to you within one month.

I'm really sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. I hope you understand.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Haiti Auction

Lampwork Mushroom Bead TrioRemember when I was trying to get hold of Melanie Poxon last week via my blog? Well, it was to send her my photos of the beads that I've donated for the Haiti Auction that she's kindly organised.

If you fancy making this cute mushroom trio yours then do head on over to the auction. It closes on Monday 15th February and there is a whole host of beads, jewellery and other handmade goodness that you can bid on. All proceeds will go to help the people of Haiti rebuild their lives after the terrible earthquake.

Mel has been an absolute star to organise and run this auction so do pop over there and see if anything takes your fancy.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Mini Tutorial : Wiggledot Bead

This mini tutorial shows you how I make one of my Wiggledot beads. This is quite an easy bead to make but it does offer you a host of design possibilities because you can alter the dot placement, the number of dots, the colours and so on.

Step 1


Make a donut-shaped bead. Remember to start off quite a bit smaller than you want the finished bead to be as you'll be adding quite a lot of glass to your base bead.


Step 2


Apply a band of stringer around the middle of the bead. Different stringer sizes will produce different effects. Don't go too fine with the stringer though or you'll hardly see it.


Step 3

Melt the stringer band in so it is flush with the surface of the bead and then add four dots, evenly spaced, around the left hand side of the bead. These dots need to be quite large and most importantly they need to be the same colour as your base bead. Don't let the dots touch the stringer band.


Step 4

Add another four dots to the right hand side of the bead so that they're offset from the first four.


Step 5

Melt all of the dots in slowly and gradually so that they don't distort. Bring your bead out of the flame and let the glow subside from time to time if needs be.


Step 6

You should now have a plain bead with a pretty wiggly line around its centre. This was caused by the dots pushing the stringer out of shape as they melted into the surface.


Step 7

Using a different colour add another eight dots, just as you did in steps three and four. You might want to make them smaller than last time. Then melt them in slowly and gradually.


Step 8

Repeat step seven using a different colour. I'm using Efftere transparent dark teal.


Step 9

If you like you can add more dots on top of the last ones .....


Step 10

..... and even a few more if the mood takes you! Remember that the more dots you add the more your wiggly line will wiggle and the bigger your bead will be.


Step 11

The finished bead.


Hints & Tips

~ You can use either a transparent or opaque base for this style of bead.
~ Try using Goldstone (Aventurine) stringer for the wiggly line.
~ More than eight initial dots will create more of a wiggly line.
~ Plunge and case your dots for that groovy trapped bubble effect.
~ Leave some of your dots raised for texture.

I hope you've found this mini tutorial useful. Please click here for more of my tutorials in PDF format.

If you make any Wiggledot beads with the aid of this tutorial please
email me some photos of them - I'd love to see!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Finally!

My engagement ringHere's my engagement ring! It now fits perfectly and I can't stop looking at its spangly sparkliness. The ring is white gold with nineteen tiny diamonds. I know it's not your traditional solitaire but the minute Chris pointed it out in the jewellery shop window I knew that it was the engagement ring for me!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

'Prettiness'

Lampwork Glass Frit BeadsI'm lucky that I'm able to blog tonight. This morning my laptop threw a wobbler (another one) and Dad has spent most of the day formatting it and sorting it out for me. Since Dad completed his sterling IT work I've suddenly gained another eight gigabytes and the laptop is going like greased lightning now!

I'm posting pictures of beads that already have a home again but I thought you might like to see them. They're less-is-more beads. Seafoam green and orchid pink frit on an opaque base, cased with transparent glass for depth and sparkle. Simple prettiness.

I'm off to work on my socks now. I've got two pairs on the go - whoops there goes one of my New Year's resolutions. I said to myself that this year I would knit one pair of socks at at time. Thing is, the other pair are hideously boring and are knitted in a single colour yarn - yawn - so it's no wonder I've got a lacy-cabled pair on the go too!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

'Claret'

Etched Lampwork Glass BeadsI have no clear glass and it's been that way since before Christmas. There seems to be some sort of shortage of Vetrofond clear.

This lack of clear glass is bad but it's also good. It's bad because every time I sit at the torch I realise how much I rely on plain clear glass for encasing and suchlike but it's good because it's making me use other transparent colours instead.

If I hadn't played about with various transparents yesterday I wouldn't have come up with these 'Claret' beads. They're decorated with fine lavender stringerwork and the beads have been etched to a velvety matt finish.

Huge thanks to everyone for your Big Prize Draw entries and for all the fab comments you've left. Also, greetings to all new followers and to lurkers that have de-lurked! If you're a lurker that's fine, I don't mind - I lurk on some blogs too, but please don't be afraid to post comments and say hello. I've been looking through the draw entries and I've discovered lots of new blogs - there really are some great people in Blogland!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Message For Mel

Melanie Poxon, this post is especially for you. I've been emailing you like a mad thing but your email must be playing up. When you've read this please post a comment and let me know that you've done so.

I've got your mail to say you've got the beads. I can't think of any other way to contact you. I don't do MyFace and BeboBook so I'm harnessing the power of the blogosphere to reach you!

Here are the pictures - please click to embiggen them, then save them and use them.


If you're reading this and you're not Mel I apologise for any confusion. This post will make absolutely no sense to you at all but when email glitches happen and you really need to speak to someone you just have to improvise.

'Blue Green Grey'

Lampwork Glass BeadsYes, I've named these beads 'Blue Green Grey' because I was stumped as to what to call them. I used no green glass in the making of these but they have taken on a green tinge. In some lights. When I took these out of the kiln in the conservatory they looked more blue. As I was cleaning them in the kitchen they looked positively grey. When I photographed them they looked green. They must be mystical colour-changing beads!

These beads already have a new home but I didn't have time to post them last night what with organising The Big Prize Draw but I thought I'd post them here on my blog this morning so you could have a look-see anyway.

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Big Prize Draw

You know how I do my monthly prize draws? Well, I've been thinking about those and I decided that I'd try something a little different this year.

I've met some wonderful people through my website and the blogosphere. Some of them I've actually met face-to-face and others I 'speak' to via blogs and emails. When I was thinking about the giveaway I decided to see if any of these fab folk would like to join me in this prize draw thing and guess what? That's right, they did! Yeah!

So now I'm very pleased (and a tad excited) to present The Big Prize Draw. There are three - yes three - prizes up for grabs this month. That means that there will be three winners! And that's not a first, second and third prize. They're all pretty much the same value. Four talented people have donated prizes for the draw and there's also a chance to win some of my beads too.

Do you want to take a look at what you could win?

First off (and these prizes are listed in no particular order) we have some beautiful polymer clay beads made by the very clever Zuleykha. She has donated a set of four flowery focal beads ranging from 25-50mm diameter.

Polymer clay beads by ZuleykhaAren't they pretty? To see more of Zuleykha's wonderful polymer clay work please visit her Etsy shop and click here to have a read of her blog.

Lyn from Florspace has donated three of her super-handy and very cute handmade MiniZ purses. There are two Everyday Cupcake ones and one Metro Dots one. These little purses are great for keeping all your odds and ends in. I have about five of them myself and I love them!

MiniZ purses by FlorspaceTo see more of Lyn's amazing handcrafted bags and purses please head on over to her Etsy shop. Lyn has a blog too.

Next up is this exclusive Alice In Wonderland necklace by the lovely Janine Byrom of Cherished Trinkets. This gorgeous pendant features a classic illustration of Alice and the 'Drink Me' bottle. It's perfectly finished with a blue satin ribbon. The chain measures approximately 18 inches.

'Alice In Wonderland' necklace by Janine ByromJanine has a whole range of Alice jewellery on her newly re-vamped and very swish website. Please click here to visit her online emporium and click here for her blog.

Senior Art Clay Silver Instructor Joy Funnell has donated a seven gram pack of Art Clay Silver. This wonderful stuff can be used to make fine silver beads, pendants, findings and much more.

Art Clay Silver from Joy FunnellJoy has lots more information about Art Clay Silver on her website and her online shop contains lots of Art Clay Silver products. She also blogs here.

And finally we have some lampwork bead dangles made by moi. There is a cupcake (naturally), a sweet little mushroom and a pretty scrollwork bead. These dangles are great for prettying up your mobile phone, camera or bag zipper pull.

Lampwork Dangles by Laura SparlingSo, that's the prizes. I've split them up into three lots and these are as follows :

Prize One

Prize Number 1Zuleykha's four flower beads, my mushroom dangle and one of Lyn's cupcake MiniZs.

Prize Two

Prize Number 2Janine's Alice necklace, one of Lyn's cupcake MiniZs and my scrollwork dangle.

Prize Three

Prize Number 3Joy's pack of Art Clay Silver, my cupcake dangle and Lyn's dotty MiniZ.


How To Enter

All you have to do to enter the draw is leave a comment on this post.

Usually I take email entries too but from now on all draw entries have to be made by blog comment. This will make it easier to keep track of and it will make the drawing of the winners simpler too. Over time my prize draws have become so popular that the poor Lego Tombola can't take any more! The winners will be picked by a random number generator instead. Each comment will be assigned a number (number one being the first comment posted) and I will use random.org to choose the three winners.

If you normally enter my giveaways by email, please don't let the blog commenting put you off. It's really simple and you don't need a Blogger account to comment. Just leave your name in your comment and check back at the end of the month to see if you've won!

The draw is open to anyone anywhere in the world but it's only one entry per person please.

I will draw the three winners on the evening of February 28th.


I'd like to say huge massive 'thank yous' to Zuleykha, Lyn, Janine and Joy for being so generous with their prizes. Please take a moment to visit their websites and blogs and add yourself as followers so you can keep up with all their goings-on!

I'm hoping to do more of these Big Prize Draws so please bookmark or follow my blog for news of when they will take place. If you're at all interested in donating a prize for upcoming giveaways please send me an email.

Best of luck for the draw!