Monday, 15 June 2020

Enough is enough

Handmade lampwork glass 'Gryffindor' beads by Laura Sparling

For a good few years now I've publicly detailed the glasses I use to make my beads. I call them my 'bead recipes'. My sharing of my bead recipes was prompted by numerous "What glass did you use for these?" or "What pink is that?" type questions and it became easier to just state these facts along with the photos of my work.

Over the years I've also done the occasional video or tutorial, talking about beads or demonstrating how a certain bead is made.

The thing is, you share things and suddenly people think every bit of work you show on the internet is fair game for copying. And no, I'm not saying that if I've shown you how to make a certain bead that you are not 'allowed' to make it. I'm trying to say that some people think that because I've shown how I make a couple of things it must follow that the rest of my back catalogue is up for grabs too.

It's not.

Recently someone has adopted my 'signature' bead sets (like the ones pictured above) to the point where as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day I thought for a second I was looking at my own work. And no, dear outrage police, obviously I don't think I own band, spotty, scroll, polka dot or spiral beads but I'll tell you what: quite a few people know that when they see a set of beads with those designs arranged like that, they are most probably mine. Does that make me sound big-headed? Probably. Don't care.

I've also had a thing recently where someone nicked a bracelet design of mine and is selling the results on Etsy. That's one thing, but when you have blatantly copied my description for my version of the bracelet, pasted it into your Etsy listing, changed about four words of it and altered the dimensions to fit yours, that's plagiarism. It's lazy and it's wrong.

I know this all sounds pathetic and it is, in a way. In the grand scheme of things it's just beads, right? We should be flattered that others like our work so much that they want to emulate us, right? Wrong. This copying shite has rumbled on in lampwork circles forever. I see copies and interpretations of other beadmakers' beads all the time and it irks me. Sometimes you know that a beadmaker has done a popular tutorial for a style so that's maybe OK (depending on the original beadmaker's tutorial terms) but sometimes I see absolute bare-faced rip-offs and it's not right.

A student once told me that she copied my work and the work of others but because she sold the results at fairs and not online she felt it didn't matter because we didn't know anything about it. If you're doing a "Well, that's rude!" face at the screen now, please know that my face did the same thing to her face.

Why am I telling you these petty stories?

Because I've had enough.

Sixteen years I've been doing this. Sixteen years of figuring out how glass works. Sixteen years of reading about glass, of experimenting, of trial and error. Sixteen years of mistakes and wasted hours, wasted propane and wasted glass. Sixteen years of writing stuff down and learning. And I'm still learning. You look at one of my beads and you are looking at the ten or so minutes it took me to make it plus sixteen years of practice.

Basically, I think that I've shared enough.

It got to the point where I was feeling like a bit of a mug. I'd post some beads or a new style of bead and people would comment with a short, sharp "Video?" or "Tutorial?" like I somehow automatically owe it to others to put my years of findings and what I've learnt from honing techniques out there. I don't.

I've removed my instructional videos from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and I've made the decision to stop sharing my bead recipes. The bead recipes I've posted on Tumblr and Instagram will remain where they are, and obviously I will still discuss the glasses I use when I'm doing Creation is Messy testing, but from here on in I'm just about showing you what I've made. I will share any information I am comfortable sharing but I'll no longer respond to questions that I feel I don't have to answer.

I apologise if this post comes off as rude but there's only so long a person can feel taken advantage of before they say "NO MORE!" If my forties are teaching me anything, it's that I don't need to pretend; I can be me and be true to myself and people can accept me as I am or they can naff off.

TL;DR: Because I am an over-sensitive, misanthropic whinge-bag I am no longer answering every bead-based question I'm asked, or sharing instructional videos or bead recipes.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

CiM Testing: Montezuma

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling made with CiM Montezuma

Montezuma is a sliver-rich navy blue that was an attempt to remake Prussian Blue and it is similar to that but I reckon it’s more of a dead ringer for CiM Class M Planet.

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling made with CiM Montezuma and CiM Ra

In rod form Montezuma is a dark blue but when heated it gets a marine green tinge. If you don’t encase the bead this will remain, but a layer of encasing magically does away with the green, leaving a rich navy blue. This glass behaves exactly the same way as Class M Planet did, even down to its occasional shocky-pop here and there. (Nothing serious – just warm it slowly and carefully.) That quirk aside, the glass is a doddle to use.

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling made with CiM Montezuma and CiM Ra

The photos of the spotty beads are Montezuma encased with Effetre Super Clear 006, with spots and spacers in CiM Ra. The picture at the top of this post is just Montezuma on its own.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Friday, 17 April 2020

CiM Testing: Ra

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling made with CiM Ra

Ra is a silver-rich pastel lemon yellow. It’s like a slightly brighter, tad more saturated version of CiM Baked Alaska.

I didn’t strike the glass in any way; I just used it as I would any other opaque glass. I pulled it into stringer and applied it as dots to a base of CiM Flax and the dots retained their crisp edges with no bleeding or feathering.

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling made with CiM Ra

When you heat Ra it loses its colour and looks to be off-white but as it cools the yellow returns. Baked Alaska behaves this way too.

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling made with CiM Ra

I found Ra to be fuss-free with no shocking.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Tied in knots

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

Ages ago I bought a load of waxed cotton with the intention of combining it with my beads to make bracelets. The cotton got put in a box under my desk and forgotten about.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

The other week when Chris and I were tidying up to prepare for him working from home, I rediscovered the box of cotton and remembered my plan and finally I have made some macramé bracelets!

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I used to make those friendship bracelet things when I was a teenager, you know the ones made out of embroidery thread and a million tiny knots, so I'm not unfamiliar with the whole knotting thing.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I wanted to keep these bracelets simple; plain beads and basic macramé knots. I wanted them to be for everyday wear, so nothing fussy.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

After a bit of faffing to work out how many beads worked best, how many knots in between them gave a balanced look, and getting the beads and the knots to sit as neatly as possible, I decided on this design as my basic macramé and lampwork bracelet.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

The bracelets fit a medium 6–6.5 inch wrist but because of the sliding macramé fastening they can be adjusted for a larger wrist, or for a looser fit.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I wore the prototype bracelet all day yesterday and it's ever so comfortable.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I've written notes for potential different designs that will incorporate more beads, in more than one colour, and also ones with fewer beads – possibly slightly larger, decorated ones – so yeah, prepare for more knottiness!

Monday, 30 March 2020

CiM Testing: Candlelight

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Candlelight

As soon as I saw this glass I knew I would love it and I was right. I think that’s why I put off using it until towards the end of testing; I was saving the best for last and yep, Candlelight is probably my favourite out of all of the new CiM glasses. It's perfectly named too.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Candlelight

Candlelight is a transparent very pale yellow. It melts *perfectly* and it is just the right consistency to work with. Sometimes pale transparents can be quite stiff but this is just right. The glass has a wonderful clarity to it – no bubbles. If I get my hands on more of this I swear that it will never see the tumbler because this glass needs to shine; the way the light plays with it is magical.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Candlelight

Oh, and this is probably irrelevant but I’m saying it anyway: the way it looks when it is molten is absolutely marvellous! While hot it is the most amazing golden yellow and it’s mesmerising to see.

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

CiM Testing: Luzern

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

This cloudy transparent is called Luzern because its colour matches the logo of Crea-Arte who are located in Luzern/Lucerne in Switzerland. Crea-Arte will be the main place you can get this particular glass.

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

And what a glass it is! I love it. It's a gorgeous, rich orchid pinky-purple and judging by its original number it's a variant of CiM Heather.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

It melted with no trouble and I only wish I had more of it to play with. Beautiful glass!

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: 2020.11.17 60203

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM 2020.11.17 60203

In rod form, this unnamed glass* is a very nice tanzanite blue colour but upon heating and after annealing it turns into a very intense cobalt blue. The glass is a cloudy transparent.

The glass worked fine and I had no trouble with it.

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM 2020.11.17 60203

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

* There's only a very small amount of these glasses that have a number instead of a name. Because there's only a tiny amount of each one Kathy at CiM didn't feel it was worth naming them.