Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Ladybirds, Toadstools & Postage

Lampwork glass ladybird and toadstool beads

Hello to you!

I am SO busy you wouldn't believe it. Does anyone know anywhere that could possibly make a clone of me? If so, can someone sort out about another four Lauras? (Actually, I just stopped and pictured that and no, scratch that plan. Far too scary.)

Right, beads. Ladybirds and Toadstools are now available to order in my shop. Ladybirds are £4.00 each and can also be ordered as charms for an extra £1.50. Toadstools are £4.50 each and there is a pendant and charm option for those too.

Now, postage. For as long as always my bead prices have included postage to UK addresses. I've held off for charging you for postage for as long as I can but I'm afraid the time has come to start adding postage and packing to UK bead orders. I've implemented a flat rate per order and I've kept the charges as low as I can and from now on P&P prices are as follows:

  • UK by Royal Mail 1st Class: £1.99 per order
  • UK by Royal Mail 1st Class Signed For: £3.49 per order
  • Europe, US and everywhere else by Royal Mail Airmail: £3.99 per order

Will you look at that? I managed to write about Royal Mail without getting my knickers in a knot about their crazy, ever-increasing prices! Oh ...

Okerleedokerlee, it is time I went. I have about seventy-five beads to make today. It's going to be a Two Shift Tuesday.

Have a super duper day!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

'Summertime' Beads Sale

Lampwork Glass Beads

Right now you can grab any of my 'Summertime' beads with a 15% discount. This includes jewellery, loose beads, charms and pendants. The sale will end at midnight (UK time) on Sunday 28th July 2013.

I've also added a charm option for my strawberry beads.

Lampwork Glass strawberry Beads

For an additional £1.50 I can add a lobster clasp to your strawberry bead so that you can clip it to a charm bracelet or wherever you fancy.

Monday, 22 July 2013

PDF Sale


For today only you can grab any of my PDF beadmaking tutorials at half price. Bargain!

If you fancy learning how to make a Roly Poly bead, a Flurry bead, a Cupcake bead or if you just need a bit of help mastering basic donut-shaped beads then please move your mouse/finger/stylus/whichever techno-navigational device you favour this way ...

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bumblebeads

Lampwork glass 'Bumblebead' by Laura Sparling

Good morning! I've just made my Bumblebeads available for ordering. Each one costs £5.50 and for an extra £1.50 I can turn your bee bead into a pendant or charm.

All the ordering details can be found right here.

Have a good day,

Monday, 15 July 2013

Summery Beads & Facebook Giveaway

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

Good morning to you! I hope you had a lovely weekend?

I'm starting the week off with these ever-so-summery 'Turquoise & Mango' beads which just remind me of orange juice and blue skies. The set is available for purchase in my shop.

I'm also doing my first Facebook only giveaway. I've already had a couple of "But I'm not on Facebook!"s after I tweeted about the prize draw but I'm doing this giveaway specifically to increase my Facebook page likes. (There's honesty for you.) So if you're not a Facebook user I apologise but I do hold the occasional giveaway on my blog so yeah, I try and keep everyone happy.

If you are on Facebook and you'd like a shot at winning these beads ...

Lampwork glass beads Facebook giveaway

... then head on over to my Beads By Laura Facebook page for all the entry information.

Whilst I'm on the subject of social media, Beads By Laura also has a Twitter account. I tweet bead updates there whenever I have them. I do have a personal Twitter account  which you are welcome to follow too but be warned, there is language and the like. If tweets containing effing-and-jeffing, EastEnders commentary, rants about annoying stuff and adoration for the wonders of Cherry Vimto aren't your thing then it's probably best to stick with the Beads By Laura account.

And now to the shed ... 

Have a good day now bye bye!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Sweet little strawberries

Lampwork glass strawberry beads

I love strawberries. Adore them. If I could I would eat them every single day. Actually, come to think of it, I am eating them pretty much every day at the moment.

Strawberries and a cuppa in the shed

As you can see, strawberries are my shedsnack of choice right now.

But anyway, yes, enough of real strawberries; let me tell you about the glass ones. I've added some little strawberry beads to my shop.

Lampwork glass strawberry beads

They're only 11mm tall and because of this, they'd be fab for earrings.

I'm going to make myself a bracelet full of glassy strawberriness.

Each little strawberry costs £3.75 and they're available to order here.

Monday, 8 July 2013

'Summertime' Bracelet

Lampwork glass bead bracelet

I've been planning this bracelet in my head for about a week. Today I made it a reality and I am beyond pleased with the finished piece.

Lampwork glass bead bracelet

It features white floral beads, strawberry beads, a bumblebee, a ladybird and a smattering of brightly-coloured spacers. I reckon it's summer in bracelet form! It makes a gorgeous glassy rattle too.

The 'Summertime' bracelet it priced at £60.00 and it's available here.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

'Marguerite'

Lampwork glass beads

These geometric bumpy beads are made in such a retro colour combination. I threw the naming of them out to the good folk of Facebook and I loved Catherine's suggestion of using a retro girls name like 'Ethel'. This morning when I opened the photo of the finished set, I instantly thought 'Marguerite' as in the cookery book wonder that is Marguerite Patten.

I have my mum's '70s copy of Marguerite's 'Every Day Cook Book' (I've blogged about this before) and I've always loved how the photographs in it are SO brown and orange. People must have loved brown and orange food back in the day! 

Lampwork glass beads

Here is a photo of the beads on a page of the book which shows some preserves and jams. Brown preserves and orange jams, to be precise.

So, the 'Marguerite' beads are now for sale. Again, these are a one-off, never to be repeated set so if you like them, grab them whilst you can.

Oh, and lots and lots of you seem to like the Bumblebead I posted last night. There will be some for sale soon; I just need to fine tune the bee-making process and then production can bee-gin. LOLZ!

Have a lovely day and enjoy the sunshine,

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Bzzzzz

Lampwork glass bee bead

He's not for sale but he insisted I took his photo and showed it to you.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

'Intergalactic Purquoise'

Lampwork glass beads

These are my favourite beads to make; carefully placed and evenly spaced dots and lines in a variety of patterns. The raised dots give the beads a bumpy, tactile surface. 

Lampwork glass beads

This 'Intergalactic Purquoise' strand contains nine patterned beads and fourteen spacers in purple, pale turquoise, black and white.

It's one-off set, not to be repeated, so if you like it grab it whilst you can.

'Beach' Droplets Bracelet

Lampwork glass stretch bracelet

I finished off this custom order droplets bracelet yesterday morning. Soft grey, ivory, turquoise, sand, pale aqua and seafoam green. Very seaside.

Droplets bracelet ordering information can be found here.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Hookin'

Crochet baby blanket

I've been crocheting like a mad thing lately. I made this blanket for Janine at Cherished Trinkets as her baby boy is due very soon. Janine has got a lot going on. Not only is she about to become a mum and not only is she making her gorgeous jewellery but her and her fiancé have started a new business called Cherished Tea Party Hire. They've just launched their brand new website and it's well worth a look. I wish Janine and Kieran every success with their new venture.

Back to Janine's blanket of blue. It's crocheted in John Lewis 'Baby' Double Knit and it's acrylic.

Crochet baby blanket

I wanted to make the blanket in acrylic so that it could go in the washing machine. I like to block finished knitting and crochet because it brings the stitches to life. Some pieces can look like a crumpled dish rag when you cast off but blocking is a kind of magical witchcraft that opens up lace work and gives real stitch definition. I'd always been under the impression that you can't and shouldn't block acrylic projects but after Googling about I found this excellent blog post and gave steam blocking a bash. Sure enough, it worked like a dream and the baby blanket ended up with a beautiful drape and the stitches look lovely. The difference between wet blocking natural fibres and steam blocking acrylic is that the latter is permanent. After I steam blocked the blanket I washed it in the washing machine and sure enough, it held its shape perfectly.

Addi 'Swing' crochet hook

I also crocheted Janine's blanket with a super duper new crochet hook. It's an Addi 'Swing' one. Addi make my favourite knitting needles and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with one of their crochet hooks. It's ultra-comfy to use and I'll be buying more of them. I got it from my favourite online yarn shop, Stash Fine Yarns.

And now I am using the aforementioned Addi hook to make a cushion. This is one of those popular Ravelry patterns that you just have to have a go at and I am loving it! It's Attic 24's 'Blooming Flower Cushion' which is a free pattern and a wonderful project.

Crochet 'Blooming Flower' cushion in progress

I'm making the cushion in Sirdar Ella which is a cotton blend with a shimmery spangle of silver running through it. I popped to Dunelm Mill at the weekend to grab a cushion pad for it. I've heard tell of this Dunelm place but we've only just got one in Cambridge and Saturday was my first visit there. It's one of those shops that you can't leave without buying something. The feather cushion pad I got is really high quality and cost £3.49. I reckon that's a bargain.

I'm off to carry on with my cushion now. Have a lovely night!

Stuff & Things

I have had a busy fortnight. When I say 'busy', I've not done anything interesting, noteworthy or exciting but the hours and days seem to have disappeared up the big old time hoover. Gone. 

Now, before you read on, there are rants ahead. Skip the next few paragraphs if you don't want to experience my grump ... 

Last week I had big stress over my website domain transfer. Honestly, on Thursday I was ready to give up. I mean totally. Things got shouted, threats about selling my lampworking kit got made and I had a massive strop. Sometimes, this self-employment thing gets to you. In Evita, Madonna sings "Sometimes it's very difficult to keep momentum if it's you that you are following" and she's not wrong. Team the nightmare domain transfer with a load of other niggly bead-related stuff including an email telling me that my "work is very nice and everything but far too expensive" and yeah, you've got a recipe for Bad Mood Laura going on. (And to the woman who emailed me and told me my work is too expensive - no, no it's not, and in future please refrain from telling people who make stuff for a living that their work is too expensive because you probably don't quite get what goes into making it and your words are confidence-knocking and insulting, thank you very much.)

So yeah, I had a wobble and then I gave myself a good old talking-to and told myself to woman up and get on with things. 

Tell you what, though, I managed to retrieve half of my old mailing list. Okay, so it was only half of it but half is better than nothing at all. This meant I was able to import the list into MailChimp and send out a "Hello, remember me?!" email to folk. So that was good. 

Whilst I'm on the subject of mailing lists, and this isn't a moan or a whinge, have you ever marked a mailing list email as spam? And I don't mean unsolicited emails; I mean ones that you personally signed up to or agreed to receive when you made a purchase. By marking that email (that you asked for) as spam, you can get the company's list suspended. Now for a one person outfit, that can be quite the hindrance. So, instead of hitting the 'mark as spam' button, scroll down and use the 'unsubscribe' link instead. 

Okay, I think that's my narkiness all typed out. Thanks for reading all that. 

Tell you what, though; A Very Excellent Thing happened, people. I finally reached my Slimming World target weight!

Slimming World target rewards

In ten months I have lost three stone four pounds, dropped from a size 16 to a size 10-12 and I feel a bazillion times healthier for it. I reached target a couple of weeks ago and now I'm trying to maintain that weight. I still go to my Slimming World group every week to get weighed plus I'd miss everyone if I didn't go. Doing Slimming World has made me think differently about food and I cannot recommend it enough. 

My shed shorts are too big!

I've got to have a wardrobe sort-out. Such a textbook look-I-lost-weight pose but these were the shorts that I used to wear in the shed last summer and also the garment that made me go "Laura, you need to lose weight, woman!" Height of fashion, right? Fiver from Tesco. Size sixteen and the buggers used to dig right into my thighs when I sat down, even with the buttony side legs bits unbuttoned. I put these on the day after I reached target and they literally, actually fell straight off. So yes, I need to get new shed shorts and new dresses.

I'm going to stop typing now because I have beads to make and packages to post but I'll be back later today with another (less moany) post. I know right?! Two posts in one day!

Have a fab Wednesday,