Monday 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

I was hoping I was going to wake up to copious amounts of snow so I could take a photo of a lovely wintery scene to accompany this post but alack, it's just damp and nothingy weatherwise.

I've still not finished the Christmas shopping - I'm going to have to go and get the last few bits today. Then there's the wrapping. I'm so, so, so behind this year.

Robyn's going to the Christingle service at the church this afternoon. Sally says that every time they drive past the church Robyn says 'That's the place where we get the orange!'. So Sally asked Robyn if she'd like to get an orange and sing some songs about Baby Jesus again this year. Robyn said 'Jesus that was in my play?' and when Sally said yes, Robyn asked 'Is Jesus really going to be there?'. Sally tried to explain that he wasn't and Christmas is Jesus's birthday and all that but Robyn just didn't get it. A few minutes later Robyn asked Sally 'Will Mary be there having Baby Jesus instead?'. Bless her! Now, that would be quite the Christingle service ......

Right. I'm off to go and sort the last few Christmas purchases, get a bit lot stressed and stand in long queues, but before I do I'd just like to say thank you to all my wondeful bead customers for their business and support in 2007.

I'd like to wish my customers, all my friends in Bead Land and my website and blog readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Warm wishes

Laura xxx

Sunday 16 December 2007

Off for a few days

Yet more Wiggle beads! These'll be on my website later.

I'll be quiet for a few days as I'm off to Cambridge tomorrow.

Have a good week!

Friday 14 December 2007

Another Heart

A lot of you seem to be liking the 'Roses' hearts I've been making. I love red so I thought I'd make a heart in this rich shade. I was a bit sceptical because I'm always wary about putting red with pink but I think it's worked okay.

I ventured into town this evening and yes, I did actually buy a few Christmas pressies. But something has occurred in town. I was just about to go up the escalator when I saw it. Those two words . . . white letters on a black background . . . calling to me . . . Hotel Chocolat.

Yes, they've opened a branch of my favourite chocolate emporium in Southampton. I was pulled in by its tractor beam and I wandered around in a happy daze looking at all the beautiful chocolates. And if you're reading this Chris, I was very good and didn't buy a single thing for me. You'd have been impressed at my self discipline!

Thursday 13 December 2007

More Wiggles

These ones are slightly different to the last lot, though. These have been rolled in frit and they catch the light beautifully.

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Starting to panic

I get lots of requests for heart-shaped beads but I have to be in the right mood to make focal beads. I was when I made these. I'm particularly fond of the black one.

I went to see Robyn's Nativity play today. Kid's costumes have come a long way since I was at school. The donkey was wearing a proper Donkey from Shrek suit and the sheep were sporting actual full-on sheep costumes. The angels were so pretty. When I was an angel in the school play I just wore a converted bed sheet and a loop of tinsel on my head. These ones had lovely white and gold dresses. Robyn was the star - she had a sparkly dress and a big gold star on a headband. All the children looked slightly bemused and startled at the amount of grown-ups that were crowding their playschool. Halfway through one of the sheep announced that she was 'going to see my Mummy' and she wandered off the stage!

I've really got to get my arse in gear as far as Christmas is concerned. So far I have the following :

1 x Chocolate Orange
1 x Bag of Chocolate Coins
1 x Frozen Turkey
1 x Jar of Goose Fat
1 x Packet of Paxo Stuffing

That's it. No presents. I am seriously starting to panic now. I've got some ideas for people - just got to actually physically make the purchases.

I have just finished putting the tree up and the cat is wandering around with his annual why-the-heck-have-you-put-a-tree-in-the-lounge face on.

Christmas. Why? Why? Why?

Thursday 6 December 2007

Lots of Wiggles

I do like these little beads. They're fun to make and they're just so bright and sparkly! I call them 'Wiggle' beads as they have a twisty kind of thing going on. Very tactile - great beads for those of us who like to fiddle and twiddle with our jewellery.

I'm off up to Cambridge tomorrow for the weekend so I'll see you next week!

Wednesday 5 December 2007

I always say it . . . . .

. . . . . but it really is tricky to pick a favourite from all the great names you've suggested.

I narrowed it down to five names and I kept gravitating towards one of those. The name I've picked is 'Persian Glow' as suggested by Janine. Thanks Janine - I'll get your beads in the post to you!

Big thanks to everyone who entered! There'll be another bead naming competition soon.

Tuesday 4 December 2007

It's bead naming time!

I made these greeny-bluey beads and I can't think of a decent name for them!

If you've got any thoughts please post your name suggestions in my comments section. You can post as many names as you like. I'll pick my favourite name at 7.00 pm (GMT) tomorrow night and the winner will receive the pair of 18mm lentil beads pictured below.

Sunday 2 December 2007

Marian Keyes

You may remember that last month I went to see Marian Keyes at the Chichester Literary Festival. After Marian's fantastic talk she did a book signing and I got the opportunity to meet her. She is such a lovely lady!

Now, you may also remember that way back I wrote a blog entry about how much I loved her book 'Anybody Out There' and how it had me laughing and crying the whole way through. If you haven't read this book, it deals with death and grief but Marian writes in such a down-to-earth way that she doesn't make it depressing or miserable. I know it sounds cheesy but 'Anybody Out There' helped me a great deal after my Mum died.

I knew when I went to the literary festival that there would be a good chance of me meeting Marian so I made her this bracelet to kind of say thank you for helping me. A few days later Marian sent me a lovely email to thank me for the bracelet.

And today I was very flattered, very excited and very pleased when I read Marian's November Newsletter - yours truly gets a mention! Please click here to have a read. Oh, and if you've never read a Marian Keyes book then make sure you stick one on your Christmas list!

Friday 30 November 2007


These are a set of lentil beads which I've called 'Espresso'.

I love coffee. Totally love it. But I don't drink it half as much as I'd like to. I kind of gave up drinking coffee at home a few years back because I found that it made my hands shake. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a trembling wreck and the shaking was minimal but enough to affect my beadmaking. Applying hair-thin stringer is difficult at the best of times but quivery hands make it nearly impossible. I read somewhere that cutting out coffee helps with the shakey-hand thing so I switched to tea and voila - no more wibbly fingers!

So now I only drink coffee on days when I'm not making beads (er, not often then) which tends to be when I'm up in Cambridge. Chris and I went to Starbucks at the weekend and I had one of their seasonal Creme Brulee Lattes. How lush was that?! So lush that I broke my no coffee rule and had another last night when I popped into town .......

Thursday 29 November 2007

Nearly December

Is it me or are the days just disappearing very rapidly? This week is zooming past and I can't believe that Saturday will be the first of December. Maybe the speed that days go by at is directly proportionate to how organised you are for Christmas? I say this because my Christmas organisation is non-existent. I've purchased a net of chocolate coins for Robyn's stocking and a chocolate orange which, let's face it, I'll probably end up eating. It's not like I'm being lazy - I just can't think of present ideas for people this year. If I had the ideas I'd go and buy the gifts, but nope, I'm stumped. And the days keep disappearing .......

I'm sure that all the smug I-finished-my-Christmas-shopping-in-October people are eagerly awaiting Christmas day and that time is going by at a normal pace for them. I'll be one of those people next year! Mind you, I say that every year and nothing ever comes of it.

Oh well. I'm sure it'll all sort itself out!

In the meantime I'll just keep on making beads (like those ones up there) while I try to think of gift ideas .......

Friday 23 November 2007

Warm at last!

Sorry I haven't posted much. It's been a week of making phonecalls, chasing phonecalls, waiting for plumbers that never arrive, chasing up those non-arriving plumbers and occasionally melting a bit of glass in between all that.

But yesterday the plumber did arrive and finally mended the boiler. A whole week of no heating isn't much fun. In the evenings I'd be curled up with the cat and a hot water bottle, watching the television and I could actually see my breath on the air. Brrrrr!

But it's all fixed now and this evening I AM off to Cambridge so I will see you all next week. Have a great weekend!

Saturday 17 November 2007

Grrrrr and Brrrrr!

Yeah, I know I'm not meant to be here as I'm supposed to be in Cambridge. I'm now going next weekend which annoyingly means I have to wait a-whole-nother week 'til I see my boyfriend. Rubbish!

As I type I am waiting for the boiler engineer man to come and fix the central heating which packed up yesterday afternoon. Dad's away on holiday for two weeks and before he went he left me a list of numbers to call if something were to go wrong with the heating, electricity, phones etc and I said he was making a fuss and that nothing was going to happen! How wrong was I?

So now I'm sat here shivering wearing a jumper, a cardigan, a terrible brown knitted wrap-type thing (bought it last year - goodness knows what possessed me to purchase such a hideous item of clothing but I'm sure glad I've got it now!) and super-fluffy-pink-stripy-knee-length socks under my jeans. I look like a crazy-socked Jedi.

Buster's cold too. He's buried himself under the cushions on the armchair - see above.

Also, Vittorio (my Vespa) decided to conk out on me on Thursday. He won't start - just makes a quiet whirring noise when I press the ignition. The fastener on my crash helmet is broken too. Pants!

Something somewhere is telling me not to travel or leave the house, methinks.

Thursday 15 November 2007


'Batikas' is the name I've gone for as suggested by Beth. Well done, Beth! Please email me with your full name and address and I'll get your 'Batikas Quartet' in the post to you.

Big thanks to everyone for your excellent name suggestions! It's so tricky to pick one out of the stacks of brilliant suggestions.

The larger set of 'Batikas' will be for sale tonight at 8.30pm (GMT) on my website along with the rather cosmic-looking ones pictured above.

I'm off up to Cambridge tomorrow so I won't be posting until next week.

Have a fab weekend everyone!

These beads need a name

I've been quiet - not much bead news to report, really.

My fabulous earring kit from Lynne at The Dragonfly Company arrived on Monday and I had a lovely time making the jewellery. I think I may be ever-so-slightly hooked on the chain maille thing. If you fancy having a go at chain maille then I really recommend the earring kit.

I will have some beads for sale on my website tonight. One of the sets is a larger version of the one above. They're ivory and turquoise and they've been etched to a matt finish. The ivory glass has done that 'dirty-look' caramel striation thing which makes them look kind of ancient. The four beads pictured here are up for grabs in another naming competition. Normal rules apply - post your name suggestions for these in my comments section, I'll pick my favourite at 8.00pm (GMT) tonight and the supplier of my favourite name gets the four beads pictured. You can post as many names as you like.

One last thing - thank you to both Maria Joao and Siana who both sent me the 'Cat Alarm Clock' video. Buster is just like this cat in the mornings. In actual fact he bit my leg this morning because I wasn't getting his food ready fast enough! I'll just have to hope he doesn't get hold of a baseball bat . . . . . .

Monday 12 November 2007

The Goddesses Project

A couple of years ago (way back when I did commissions and special orders) a lady called Maria asked me to make her some tiny pink beads. I didn't know it at the time but she was working on something she called 'The Goddesses Project'.

The other day Maria emailed me to tell me that The Goddesses Project was finally complete and she sent me a link to the finished piece - a beautiful necklace featuring pink beads that she'd commissioned from all her favourite beadmakers. It's a bit of an honour for my beads to be residing next to those made by Kandice Seeber, Lezlie Belanger and Corina Tettinger, I can tell you. Especially seeing as at the point I made those tiny pink beads I was still making beads in the kitchen on my Hot Head torch!

You can see the finished necklace by clicking here. Big thank you to Maria for involving my beads in such a wonderful project!

I'll tell you what though, as I was searching through my bead photo archives for those pink ones I was flabbergasted at how many beads I've made over the years. I saw beads there that I'd forgotten making that featured designs that I never do any more. I think I'm going to have to print some of my bead photos out and take them down to the shed and 're-visit' the designs and colours. Bring them up to date, as such. Could be fun!

Friday 9 November 2007

When beads go good!

I have a grin on my face. These beads are so lovely and bright and vibrant! I opened the kiln and this time I had little 'Ooooh!' to myself as opposed to an 'Aaagghh!'.

Orange and Ink Blue - such a zingy colour combo. I like. I like a lot.

I'm off out tonight to see 'An Audience With Marian Keyes' at the Chichester Literary Festival so these Plume beads will be for sale on my website tomorrow evening.

Have a nice night!

When beads go bad!

Sometimes you think you've got beads in a nice colour combination cooking away in the kiln and then you eagerly open the kiln after hours of waiting for the beads to cool and . . . . . . bleurgh! What you thought was going to be lovely light brown and pale blue ends up being insipid yellow and washed-out aqua. Horrid!

Aren't these nasty?!

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Plume Beads

Yep. That's what I'm calling them.

I tried to think of a name last night. I think that the design is feathery and Dad said it reminded him of waterfalls. I emailed my boyfriend last night and asked his excellent bead-naming advice (Chris has named several of my bead sets) but I couldn't get the feathery thing out of my head.

I said to Dad this afternoon that I thought the word 'plume' pretty much described the design and ten minutes later I received a list of name suggestions from Chris. The first name on his list was 'Plume'. Spooky!

So that's what they'll now be known as - my Plume Beads.

The teal and purple ones

So far there's only three cleaned but you seem keen to see them so here they are.

Tuesday 6 November 2007


These were a bit of a happy accident - I was twiddling about with dot designs and slowly these evolved. I made about ten beads before I stumbled upon this design.

It's a complex bead to make and relies on good dot placement and encasing to make it work properly. I made a few that were slightly wonky - I discovered that if the dots aren't just right and the encasing isn't done in a particular way then the desired effect isn't achieved.

I'm mighty, mighty pleased with these!

Monday 5 November 2007


Tonight's new beads - little flat pebbles dusted with enamel and set with cubic zirconias.

Saturday night's shindig was good. Photos were taken but they're awful so I won't be posting any! I hate, hate, hate having my photograph taken.

Saturday 3 November 2007

Jewellery Bashing

In the old Star Wars movies several props were made by taking model kits of aeroplanes, cars and the like and cutting them all up and re-assembling them to create fantastic spacey-looking things. One example of this is the trench in the Death Star run in Episode IV. Anyway, I won't start on that but I'll just point out that the model kit re-assembly process is referred to as 'kit bashing'.

Why am I talking about this?

Well, sometimes when I'm out and about shopping I quite often see cheap and nasty jewellery that occasionally contains interesting-looking components. The jewellery itself is tat - base metal and usually very poorly put together (don't I sound like a snob?!) but bits of it are pretty nonetheless.

I wanted to make some earrings to wear to this shinding tonight. My shoes and bag are pale gold but I couldn't find any nice gold jewellery. So I took these crystal links out of a cheap pair of earrings that I bought, some glass drops from another pair, re-wired everything on sterling as I'm allergic to gold and threw in some Swarovskis for good measure! Ta da! New earrings.

So for all you jewellery designers out there who don't do 'jewellery bashing' as I call it, you should give it a go. It's fun!

Friday 2 November 2007

Two more

Here are another two silver core beads. One is similar to the one I posted last night and the other is one of my enamel beads.

I'll tell you what, parting with these is going to be quite tricky. I don't usually spend that much time with my beads. By that I mean that I normally make them, clean them, photograph them and then they're away off to new homes in various parts of the world. But these little glass gems get a considerate amount of my time and attention lavished on them after the cleaning process. I talk to them while I'm doing the silver coring thing, normally pleading with them to turn out okay and not to smash! Then I sand, clean and polish the silver core and finally the completed bead gets a bath and a good buff with a polishing cloth. These are pampered beads indeed!

But I realise that I do have to part with them and I'm sure that they will go to extremely good homes. I was going to wait until I had a huge mountain of silver core beads before I started selling them but I've had a bucketload of emails asking when they're going to be available so I shall start the ball rolling tonight and these two will be for sale on my website at 8.30pm (GMT) this evening.

Thursday 1 November 2007

My first 'proper' Silver Core

Here it is! It's been a long while but I've finally cracked (along with a gazillion beads!) the silver coring process. This is the first one that I'm totally 100% pleased with and it is currently residing on my Pandora bracelet. Yes - a Laurabead for me!

My silver core beads will be available to buy on my website in the very near future. I shall let you know as soon as I add them to the site.

Wednesday 31 October 2007


There have been lots of fabulous names sumbitted and a large proportion of them had a definite bumble-bee and Halloween vibe!

It's always tricky picking a winner - so many great suggestions. But I have picked one and the name of the discs will be 'Baroque Bumblebeads' as submitted by Rach. Well done, Rach! Please email me with your full name and address and I'll get your pendant in the post to you.

Thanks to everyone who entered. There'll be another name game soon!

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Another bead-naming game

So I started making a set of disc beads today and I can't think of a good name for them. They're transparent purple and opaque pale orange.

I've turned three of them into a pendant (that one up there) and I thought I'd offer it as the prize in another bead-naming competition.

If you can think of a suitable name for a set of these purple and orange stripy discs then please post your ideas in my comments section. You can submit as many suggestions as you like and I shall pick my favourite name at 7.00pm (GMT) tomorrow evening.

I'll announce the winner of the pendant here on my blog tomorrow night.

Mum's Tree

Hello! I hope you had a good weekend? Mine was great. Chris and I went to see 'Stardust' on Sunday. I've seen it twice now and I think it's fab. Totally recommend it.
On the way home from Cambridge yesterday I stopped in London to meet one of my customers for coffee. Kanina's been buying my beads for ages now - we've had many an email conversation and she's also a fellow Star Wars geekette! So Kanina and I met up and had a good old natter. At one point were were interrupted by a total stranger who stopped to tell me what lovely hair I've got, which was an odd thing but nice of him all the same. (That's never happened to me in my life. To me my hair is just a curly moppy mess!) Anyway, Kanina and I whiled away two hours talking about all things beads, jewellery and Lego Star Wars which was fab. If you get a spare few minutes do make sure you take a look at Kanina's lovely website. She's got some gorgeous jewellery on there. I'm in love with the 'Tropical Fruits' bracelet. Yum!
When I arrived home yesterday I was surprised at the amount of leaves that had fallen off the trees over the weekend - the driveway is covered in them. Not all the trees are losing their leaves yet, though. I wandered down the road and took a photo of 'Mum's Tree' this morning and its leaves are only just starting to turn that yellowy colour. This huge, ancient oak was Mum's favourite tree and she always said that if they ever cut it down she'd move (our house is just behind it in this photograph) and she used to get all irate if she ever heard the council out and about doing general hedgerow maintenance with their chainsaws and strimmers. She'd make one of us go and see what they were doing and to check that they weren't touching 'her tree'. The oak's got a preservation order on it but Mum never quite trusted the council men with their chainsaws!

Thursday 25 October 2007

See you next week!

I'm off up to Cambridge tomorrow for the weekend so I shan't be posting until next week.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Lovin' the discs!

More disc beads in bright and cheery colours!

Monday 22 October 2007

Disc Beads

I had such fun making these beads! I've seen quite a few jewellery projects lately that feature disc beads so I thought I'd make some. I've gone for stripes here in classic black and white but I can definitely see me making more with dots and twisties in crazy colours!

Sunday 21 October 2007

Double encasing experiment

There's been a severe lack of Laurabeads this past week, but I intend to put that right as of tomorrow.

The beads above are double encased. I started off with a barrel of white, then cased that in coloured transparent and then encased the whole bead again in clear glass. The effect is lovely - it sort of makes the beads look shinier than usual. I like!

'Ice Queen' and dress stress

I sat and made jewellery last night. I haven't made jewellery in ages! I've seen lots of ladies wearing those long necklaces lately and I wanted to make one that included my lampwork. The above is a close up of the resulting 'Ice Queen' necklace which is currently for sale on the Wearbles page of my website.

I went dress-shopping yesterday. I'm going to a posh birthday ball in November - my aunt and cousin's joint 18th and 40th celebration. The dress code is formal. I don't do dresses. Last time I wore one was for Sally's wedding last August.

After recoiling at the initial shock of being told 'Yes Laura - you do have to wear a dress' I looked some up on t'internet. I found a few I liked the look of but you have to try these things on, don't you? Last weekend my very patient boyfriend suggested we look for dresses (is he mad?) in Cambridge. We wandered about and I eventually found a couple and went into the changing rooms to try them on.

Gah! Changing rooms! What is it with them? Most of them are too small, too hot and I always seem to get the one that has the harassed Mum with two bored, noisy children next door who are repeatedly running some form of toy car up and down the wall while the Mum says things like 'No Charlie, don't do that!' and 'Yes, darling we'll go and get a McDonalds in a minute!' through gritted trying-to-be-patient teeth.

Anyway, I had these two dresses and decided to try on the one I liked more first. It was a kind of Lily Allen-style pale gold number with tiny black polka dots and a sash with a bow (looking back, what the hell was I thinking?!) and it had a net thingy underneath to puff it out. So I unzipped it and climbed into it but I couldn't get the flipping thing up over my hips so I had to put it on over my head. I got my arms through but I was stuck - I couldn't pull the dress down over my chest and there were bits of sash, net and lining sticking out at all angles. By now I was very very flustered and a bit stressed and I was aware that Chris was waiting outside the changing rooms in that manly no-I-really-am-waiting-for-my-girlfriend kind of way.

I was a bit stuck. Did I shout for help and risk the assistant seeing me in this bizarre big-puffy-dress being worn as an Elizabethan-style-ruff with my arms above my head teamed with bright pink underwear and red and black stripy socks situation? No. I calmed down and literally pulled bits of me through the dress an inch at a time until I had the dress under my chest and I could breathe normally again. Phew! I sorted the net out and tried to zip the dress up. But no - the damn thing wouldn't do up. I needed a bigger size - don't you just hate it when that happens? So in a mini-strop I unzipped the dress and to my horror the zip went down way further than I thought it did and the dress literally fell off me. Why the hell didn't I notice that at the start? If I'd have unzipped the thing the whole way to begin with it would've made getting into it so much easier!

I did contemplate not trying on the second dress. I was worried that security were going to start questioning Chris as to why he'd spent so long hanging around outside the ladies changing rooms. But I did try the second one on - navy blue with a tiny glittery gold firework-type design all over it (that sounds horrific but it was nice, honestly) and I swished back the curtain and went to see what Chris thought. He took one look at me, saw my red and black stripy socks, bird-nest hair and stressed face and he turned away laughing!

So I got changed and we left the shop with me all in a strop.

Yesterday I decided to go and try dress-shopping again, without the red and black stripy socks. I dragged my Dad along and I found a lovely dress in the first shop we went in. It was plain black, strapless and simple. I went to try it on and the lady put me in one of the disabled changing rooms. Lots of room! I tried the dress on (checking that I'd unzipped it the whole way this time) and did that thing where you spin round really fast to see how much the dress billows out! I'm not alone in that am I? I think it's a little girl thing - party dresses that 'went out' when you span round were fab, as were clippy-cloppy shoes!

Happy with the colour, the fit and the spinny-round-billowy-out factor I made my purchase and left the shop a very happy un-stressed dress buyer! Best thing is, I can wear the dress with a pair of shoes that I've had for almost a year and never worn. I got me a handbag to match said shoes yesterday too so now I'm all set for the party!

Friday 19 October 2007

Definitely Autumn

It's been such a nice day today - fresh and chilly but with sunshine. Perfect! Autumn's my favourite time of the year. I love Winter too.

The bead above is one of the few I have for sale on my website tonight. It's one of my 'BloomBeads' made in Autumnal colours.

Thursday 18 October 2007

Blueberry Liquorice Swirls

Yep - that's the name that I went for, as suggested by Lynne. Well done, Lynne! Please can you send me an email with your full name and address and I'll get some beads in the post to you.

Big thank yous to everyone who entered the bead naming contest. There were so many fab names there and it was really difficult to pick a winner. It was fun though and I reckon I'll do another name-that-bead thing soon!

I've been tarting up my website today. Please click here if you'd like to take a look at the newly re-decorated Beads By Laura.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Name these beads

Here are some of the beads that I've made in the past few days.

I'm completely stumped as to what I should call these blue beads, so I thought I'd ask you!

If you can think of a suitable name for them then please post it in my comments section and I'll pick my favourite at some point tomorrow afternoon. You can post as many name suggestions as you like and the person who provides the name I eventually choose will 'win' some of my beads.

Happy name-thinking!

Birthday Cake

It's my sister Sally's birthday today and this is the cake that I made her. Strawberries and cream - yum!

My Google Toolbar 'Mood Ring' thing is telling me I'm stressed and tense and that actually is how I feel today. I blame it on that flippin' spider! I can't seem to get into the beadmaking swing of things. I do have a few beads that I'll photograph and add to the blog later on this evening, though.

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Conkers Bonkers

Thank you for all your comments and emails about spiders. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in acting like a total nutter when I see one!

Thanks too to Shari and Lynne for suggesting the conker thing. I've just been out and gathered a huge boxful and I now have a one bowl of conkers in the shed, one in the upstairs bathroom and one on my bedroom windowsill. I've also gone and squirted liberal amounts of spider spray everywhere!

Held hostage by a spider

I'm all in a kerfuffle.

This morning I went down to the shed, as I do every beadmaking morning, in my dressing gown and slippers to switch the kiln on and get stuff ready for the glass-melting day ahead.

Thing is, this morning I went into the shed and did my usual spider check (any other arachnophobics probably know what I mean by that) and didn't see anything. I switched the heater and kiln on and grabbed my water jug of dead beads and went to walk back out when I saw it on the ledge of the door frame next to the door mat. An I'm-curled-up-pretending-to-be-dead massive, fat-legged, creepy-bodied spider. I stood there frozen, in dressing gown, water jug in hand. I prepared myself and then kicked the doormat against the door frame. This was to determine if the spider was alive or if it was indeed acting dead. Yep. It was acting. The bugger got up and scuttled off out of the shed but just sat there as if to say 'C'mon then. Step over me you big human!'. It knew I was terrified. I was doing my best to stay calm but I have a genuine, genuine fear of them and I started doing the cold sweat thing, all trembling and speaking in tongues - I have no idea what I was saying. I was like Regan from The Exorcist!

Now, you're probably thinking 'Laura, it's outside the shed now so just walk around it and back up the garden.' But I literally couldn't move. I couldn't squish it either. I can't kill anything. Flies, ants, moths and wasps all have a right to be here and I'd just rather let them out of the window or door than swat or squash them. So, after I calmed myself down and finished wringing my hands and breathing like a woman from an ante-natal class I got the water jug and splashed a bit of water next to the spider to try and shoo it out of my path. It started to work and I thought 'Phew - once it's on the lawn I can leg it up the garden'. But the eight-legged git soon worked out what I was doing and I could almost hear it chuckling and saying 'Ha ha ha! You'll never defeat me you pathetic human being!' in some sort of booming movie-baddie voice. Then it started to walk towards me. I'd run out of water. It was like a bit in a western where the cowboy runs out of ammo or loses his gun and he has no choice but to improvise with stuff around him. So I grabbed a broom and I thought I'd kind of brush it away onto the lawn. I made contact with the spider and pushed the broom but at the same time I got all scared and let go of it and it flew across the lawn and landed on the other side of the garden. But at least the spider was on the other side of the garden too. Phew.

But no.

The evil creature was still there. How did it manage that? So, I'd used my water and my broom and I couldn't see anything else long, pokey or useful. By now the spider was laughing loudly like Blofeld from a Bond movie and it was coming straight for me. I backed away looking frantically for something I could use to shove at it but it was too late. It came into the shed and crawled under my shelving unit. I legged it back up the garden in my dressing gown and slippers in the pouring rain.

Now I have a problem.

How do I go back into the shed knowing it's in there? Dad's not here to come and get the spider out. How can I sit there making beads knowing that it could emerge at any minute? I won't be able to concentrate because I'll be doing a spider check every five seconds.

Dang, I hate spiders. I know non-arachnophobics are probably thinking I'm exaggerating or being a huge wuss but spiders totally terrify me. It's a
proper fear I have, not just a girly dislike.

I'm off for a cup of tea and a calm-down!

Thursday 11 October 2007

Frit Lentils

My last beads for this week. I've made loads of glass gems these past few days!

I'm off up to Cambridge tomorrow for the weekend so I will 'see you' next week!

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday 9 October 2007

More 'Starburst' Lentils

But these ones are bigger. They measure 18mm diameter. My favourites are the red and yellow ones - I think I'm going to have to make me some!

Cold roast potatoes

For lunch I've just eaten five cold roast potatoes left over from last night's dinner. God, I love them! They're one of those foods that tastes just as good cold as it does hot. Like rice pudding, custard or chicken. Not pizza or quiche, though. I know a lot of people like those cold but not me.

It got me thinking about bizarre food-likings. I love Walkers cheese and onion crisps dipped in Heinz salad cream. I also love grated cheese on top of chips. A Twix or Drifter dipped in hot chocolate is pretty fab too.

So what about you - what unconventional food combinations do you like?

Monday 8 October 2007

'Starburst' Beads

I love enamels. I love stars. I'm learning to love lentil beads.
Does it show?!

Sunday 7 October 2007

Playing with Palladium

I have a new bead obsession - palladium leaf. When treated in a particular way it yields metallic pinks, plums and greens. Just gorgeous!

These are some lentils in a new design I'm calling 'Starburst'. What do you think?

Saturday 6 October 2007

Lenticular Learning Curve

These were the result of a self-taught 'how-to-make-a-difficult-to-make-bead-an-even-more-difficult-to-make-bead' lesson. A whole day's beadmaking and not many decent beads to show for it. (Lots of bad ones but they're all dead - I murdered them in my water jug. I'm a cold blooded bead killer!)

These are my 'Fusion' beads in a lentil shape. Now, you may be thinking 'So, you just squashed the bead?'. Yes and no. For a start I had to apply the enamel, murrini and stringerwork to a totally different-shaped base bead than normal. My ususal beads are kind of a fat donut (using the American spelling of 'Donut' instead of our stuffy 'Doughnut') shape. I normally make the bead, apply the components and whack it in the kiln. But with these you have to make an olive-shaped bead and get the amount of glass just right. Not too hard when you're making a relatively plain lentil but with these I have to allow for adding the stringer and murrini. Then squashing it is the nervewracking bit. It's the moment where all the hard work you've just done can be ruined in an instant.

I think I've mastered the non-ruining squashing technique - for this design, anyway.

So why the lentils? Mainly because I've had a few requests for them recently and the deciding factor was my friend Nicky coming round yesterday and telling me to 'make flat beads!' on more than one occasion. So I took her advice and here they are. First of many, probably!

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Pastel 'Spangle' Beads

Pretty beads sprinkled with frit, cased in clear and decorated with fine silver trails.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Mmmmmm, chocolate!

More fusion beads, this time in a very chocolatey colour combination. They're even more chocolatey than the cocoa ones from last week!

Talking of chocolate, I visited 'Hotel Chocolat' in Cambridge on Saturday. In case you haven't heard of 'Hotel Chocolat' it's a very-naughty-but-oh-so-nice chocolate shop. If you haven't got one near you then do take a look at their website. I'm not sure if me going in there was a good idea or not, really. I mean I get their catalogue through the post regularly and I've eaten many a Hotel Chocolat chocolate that I've been given as gifts but actually going into the shop was a bit different. Chris has done a pretty good job of keeping me out of the shop in the past but I wanted to get a box of chocolates for a friend so I had a dang good excuse to go in there. And yes, of course I got myself chocolate. But the problem now is that I keep thinking of those slabs of chocolate, pink champagne truffles and cute little bags of chocolate drops . . . . . . . . .

Thursday 27 September 2007

'Strawberry Fusion' and a chocolate observation

More new 'Fusion' beads. Can you tell that I'm loving making beads in this new design?!

This next thing is random but I thought I'd say it anyway. Us chocolate lovers quite often moan that Creme Eggs are smaller, Wagon Wheels are definitely half the size they used to be and that you get less Chocolate Buttons in a packet than you used to. (Well, I moan about those things, anyway!) But, last night as I was watching 'Heroes' and munching my way through a big bag of Minstrels I noticed that they've made them bigger! They have definitely grown. Hurrah! Big thank you to the Minstrel makers!

See? A totally random observation but it made this chocoholic happy!

Tuesday 25 September 2007

'Magma Fusion' Beads

More beads in my new 'Fusion' design, this time in red and yellow.

Lizardy Beads

Last week I was a tiny bit obsessed with the colour pink. This week I'm a tad partial to shades of blue. This reptile-like effect is achieved by mixing two types of reactive glass. Pretty cool!

Monday 24 September 2007

'Cocoa' Beads

I'm a bit happy with these glass gems. The idea for them came from out of the blue. I was making encased frit beads one minute and the next - Kapow! - I had the idea for these ones. They're a mix of my enamel beads and my Kandinsky-esque beads but with the added ingredient of murrini. This is the first murrini I've made and used in my beads. Yes, I know it's only simple murrini but it gives the beads a little extra interest. They're currently on the 'Bay.

As I sit here I've got the television on and I'm watching Hell's Kitchen USA. The poor contestants are backchatting Gordon Ramsay. Mistake. Obviously they don't know what he's like! There was an ad break a minute ago and that flippin' Yakult commercial was on. Do you know the one I mean? It's the one with the bacteria inside the intestine or whatever bit of the body it is. It really offends me - makes me go all funny.

It reminds me of an art installation that I once saw at the Tate Gallery. I went there on a college trip to see the 1994 Turner Prize entries as part of my art A-Level. There were some fabulous pieces from that year's winner, Anthony Gormley, as well as Damien Hirst's famous 'Away From The Flock' sheep-in-a-tank thing and the most grotesque exhibit by some woman whose name I can't and don't want to remember. You walked into a cylindrical structure (like a tube stood on end) and on the floor was a big round screen which was showing footage of an endoscopy which had been carried out on the 'artist'. It even had squelchy, manky sound effects. Totally horrid, totally pointless and totally not art. And now every time I see that Yakult advert I think of that installation at the Tate!

Sunday 23 September 2007

'Kamino' Beads

I love making these glimmery beads! Every single one is different and the way the fine silver reacts with the glass is just magical.