Thursday 29 January 2009

'Softly Softly'

Lampwork Glass BeadsSee? No red!

I've been playing with delicate pastel shades of glass. These pretties are made with a base of the palest, softest green. Think Dulux 'Apple White'. I've cased the beads with a thick layer of glistening crystal clear and decorated them with lavender polka dots. Spring is in the air!

Sock-Making : Getting There

Practice SocksHang on a minute - there seems to be a bit of a red thing happening on this here blog! (Note to self : Next photo post must be of something not red.)

I'm still knitting away like some kind of sock-obsessed freak. I think Chris was quite perturbed when I produced my knitting from my bag on Friday night. He said he didn't know if he could have a girlfriend who knits. Nice!

I finished the first sock. It's a tad big so I'm making the next size down for the second one. Also, I knitted the first one with a 'common' heel and I'm making the second one with a 'short row' heel. (Picking up the lingo. Me speak Sock.) I much prefer the way the second version is looking so I'm going to finish that and then I shall embark upon creating my first actual matching pair of socks. I don't think they'll be red either. I need a break from red wool.

I'll be back later with beadiness .....

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Whole Lotta Love

Lampwork Glass Heart BeadsGorgeously glossy little red heart-shaped beads. These were shaped by hand. Well, not literally with my bare hands. That would be both dangerous and very silly. What I mean is that I didn't use a bead press or a mould.

Friday 23 January 2009

Sock-Making : Practice

Sock Knitting PracticeAfter reading my sock knitting book about nine and a half times I decided it was time to take the plunge and get knitting. I went to Masons in Abingdon yesterday and bought myself a set of double pointed needles and some gorgeous red yarn.

I can knit, I do knit and I've been able to do so since I was about ten years old. Mum was an avid knitter and she always had about five projects on the go at once. She used to make jumpers mainly so the whole idea of sock-making using four needles at once seemed a bit alien to me having only ever seen Mum use the standard two.

So last night after a bit of starting and stopping, a few dropped stitches and a lot of swearing I finally got into the swing of the process of knitting in the round. I just took this photo of my practice sock so far. I got up early this morning to carry on knitting, hence the pink and white polka dot dressing gown. The sock's a bit wobbly and a tad messy in places but it is my first attempt at knitting in the round so I'm going to let that slide! It could get even wobblier and messier when I get to the heel turning bit .....

Thursday 22 January 2009

Striking Simplicity

Lampwork Glass Polka Dot BeadsGlossy jet black beads with white polka dots strung with spacers in a deep cherry red. Simple but striking, methinks!

I've spent ages reading through the wonderful lentil bead name suggestions that you've all sent me. I had the load of entries here on my comments section to mull over plus at least the same number again in email format. Thank you all so much for thinking of such ace design names!

It was tricky but I decided to go with Jackie Read's idea. She suggested 'Roly-Poly' beads which I think describes them perfectly. Thanks Jackie - I will get your lucky dip bag of beads in the post to you.

I'll do another bead competition soon. Check back or follow me by using the link to the right so you don't miss out on any free bead opportunities!

Wednesday 21 January 2009

'Van Gogh' Lentils

R4 Van Gogh Lentil BeadsThere is an increasing number of magical silver-rich glasses available that produce beautiful multi-coloured, variegated and metallic effects. I buy the odd rod of silver-rich glass every now and again and I have a play and then I get bored with it quite quickly. I think it's because it has a bit of a mind of its own and therefore I can't have total control over what it does. You never quite know exactly what colour will develop and where. I'm such a control freak when it comes to glass!

I was sorting through a messy, cluttered drawer of glassy things the other day and I found a rod of R4 'Van Gogh' lurking in there so I decided it was time for one of those playing-about-with-glass moments. I came up with these pretty lentil beads. They're all a bit different but they go together, if that makes sense.

Do you like? Should I make more?

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Shopping, Chocolate & Socks

Thorntons Chocolate GateauIt's been a fab Tuesday. Last night Nicky travelled up from Southampton and we spent the evening (and early hours of the morning) having a good old natter. She brought all her wonderful silver jewellery with her for me to have a look at and to ooh-and-aah over. Such prettiness!

Today we went to Oxford and we had lunch in a nice cafe in the
Covered Market. This is Nicky posing with her chic new hairdo and enjoying her panini.

NickyThen after a couple of hours mooching around the shops we went to the Thorntons Café where Nicky had the slice of rather naughty-looking chocolate gateau at the top of this post and I had a piece of chocolate caramel shortbread. And a hot chocolate. With whipped cream. And they gave us each a chocolate truffle too. Cocoa overload! Nicky snapped this shot of me licking melted chocolate off my fingers.

One thing I did buy today was a book about knitting socks. I've mentioned before that I have a bit of a sock obsession (hmmm, that's an understatement) and I decided the other week that I want to have a go at making my own. The book I bought has loads of interesting sock patterns including one for a freakish-looking pair that kind of turns your feet into cloven hooves so - get this - you can wear them with flip-flops. That is a heinous fashion crime! Needless to say I won't be knitting those ones but I will keep you posted with my sock-making progress.

Monday 19 January 2009

Glass Weirdness Afoot

Lampwork Glass Lentil BeadsHmmm. I wanted these beads to be a soft, pale yellow. I'm all out of the pale yellow I would have normally used so I used a Vetrofond oddlot one that I've had for years. The first bead did indeed start off looking pale yellow, just like I intended, but there must have been some strange glass chemistry happening between the oddlot and the base colour because the more I worked on the bead the darker it got. It ended up this stone-like khaki colour which I actually quite like so I just went with what the glass wanted to do, kept on making beads and now I have this set of un-yellow lentils!

I've had so many lovely comments and emails about this particular style of bead. Thing is, the design has no name as yet. So I thought I'd ask for your comments and suggestions as to what I should call this particular type of bead. I'm not looking for a name for this particular set of lentils with regard to colour - I'm looking for a name for the design itself. Please click here to see more lentils like the ones above but in different colours. People have said that these lentils remind them of rose petals, rolled up fabric and coiled ribbon.

If you have any name ideas please jot them down in my comments section or if you prefer you can send me an email and I'll add your suggestions to the list. Please feel free to add as many names as you'd like and I'll pick my favourite one at 7.00pm on Thursday 22nd January. The person who provides the name I like most will get a lucky dip bag of my lampwork beads.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Beside The Seaside

Me, Emily & RobynMy youngest sister Emily lives in Bournemouth and today we had a bit of a family get together down at the seafront. It was a lovely January morning - fresh and sunny. It was a bit blowy but at least it wasn't raining. This photo is of me, Emily and our niece Robyn. I don't know what I was laughing at. It was most probably something Robyn said or did. That child has me in stitches!

The beach was pretty quiet which made for some good photo opportunities. I forgot my proper camera so I made do with my mobile phone one. Here's a nice one of Robyn watching the waves. I like her shadow and reflection on the wet sand.

Watching The Waves
And this one is of the sea washing in. Just before I took this Robyn and I were doing the whole how-far-can-we-walk-in-without-getting-soaked thing. Fun!

Bournemouth BeachAfter the walk along the seafront we went for lunch at Pizza Hut where I had a lush pudding - hot cookie dough with ice-cream. Oh my, it was good! And Chris, if you're reading this, yes, I did have a definite case of 'pudding face' going on!

Goodbye, Tony

MorphAw - I'm upset. I just read on the news that Tony Hart has died. That man was one of my heroes. He gave us Take Hart, Hartbeat and of course, the wonderful Morph. As a child I loved watching his art programmes and I would spent endless hours drawing and painting trying to make pictures just like Tony did. He was fabulous!

Goodbye, Tony and thank you. You're a legend.

Saturday 17 January 2009

Oat Biscuits

Homemade Oat BiscuitsThis is my three hundredth post. Yes, I've published three whole hundred posts full of beads and waffle. Yay me! I'm celebrating with a cup of tea and one (or two) of these homemade oat biscuits. They're like flapjacks in crunchy cookie form. Yum!

Here's the recipe for them (as requested by Sue) :

Oat Biscuits
Makes approximately 24

150g (6oz) Porridge Oats
150g (6oz) Self Raising Flour
150g (6oz) Caster Sugar
150g (6oz) Butter
2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
2 Tablespoons Milk

1. Heat butter, syrup and milk in a saucepan until butter is melted.
2. Pour into a bowl containing the oats, flour and sugar and mix together.
3. Roll heaped-teaspoon-sized amounts of the mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Space them well as the mixture will double in size.
4. Bake in batches at 180°C (160°C for fan ovens) for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Leave biscuits on baking tray for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Friday 16 January 2009

Glass Pretties

Olive-Shaped Lampwork Glass BeadsThese ultra-shiny olive-shaped beads have such a depth to them and at the ends of each one there are little vortices of colour.

People & Colours

This particular post could make me sound like a complete nutjob but I'm going to go ahead and write it anyway.

Ever since I was a child I've had this thing where I associate different people with different colours. I don't mean that I think of a person and then think of their favourite colour. I mean that when I think of someone I know I get a particular colour flash into my mind. My Mum always found this fascinating and whenever I met someone new she'd ask me what colour I related them to.

I was finding it hard to get to sleep the other night and when that happens I think about beads and possible designs for them. I tried doing that for half an hour but I was still wide awake so I put my iPod on and had yet another listen to the most recent Ricky Gervais audiobook and there's a little bit in there about Karl Pilkington's theories on how his brain works. After that I started thinking about how I think about things. It's very difficult to explain but I noticed that when I think about a particular person the first thing I 'see', for the tiniest fraction of a second, is their name written in a certain colour. For example, when I think of Chris I see his name written in a shade of sky blue. I then tried thinking about lots of different people and seeing what colour their names were. I must have worn my brain out because I did eventually drift off to sleep!

(I've just read this back to myself and I do indeed sound a little bit mad but I'm going to carry on regardless ..... )

When I woke up I was still intrigued about the colour thing so I decided to send texts to various friends and family and I asked them 'If you were a colour, what colour would you be?'.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most people's answers matched the color that I associate them with in my (slightly crazy) mind. There were a couple that threw me. My youngest sister Emily said she would be red whereas I've always 'seen' her as turquoise. And my niece Robyn totally shocked me when she said that she would be silver. I love the randomness of that child! She is a bright bubblegum pink in my mind.

Emily rang me up to find out what the heck I was asking such an odd question for and when I told her she said that she does the whole people-and-colour-association thing too! And even stranger than that, we associate the same people with the same colours. For example, we both associate Mum with a bright golden yellow, our sister Sally with green and Robyn with bubblegum pink.

Thoroughly intrigued by this I did a spot of internet research last night and I discovered that I may well have an actual proper thing that exists. It's called Chromatic-Lexical Synesthesia. It's mainly the names of personally familiar people that I get this with but occasionally other words will trigger a colour response. I also see various letters and numbers as having colours. Not all, but some. Apparently, research shows that there is a link between synesthesia and creativity. I was also really interested to read that a lot of synesthetes have trouble with sense of direction and difficulties with numbers and mathematics. Well, I have zero sense of direction and I was useless at maths at school. I'm also terrible at remembering dates and phone numbers.

So there you go. Nutjob or synesthete? I'll take the latter, thanks - it sounds better!

'Candy Floss' Lentils

Lampwork Lentil BeadsYes, yes, more of these. What can I say - I like making them! But if you're bored of seeing them, fear not - I have different beads to clean and photograph for sale later. Check back tonight for photos .....

Thursday 15 January 2009

Another great lesson day

Kathy's First Lampwork BeadsI'm really enjoying Glass Melting Wednesdays! Yesterday my student was Kathy who is a silversmith and she had never made a glass bead before yesterday. The photo above is of some of the excellent beads that Kathy created during her lesson. I'm showing you these ones in particular as they are good examples of what I like my students to achieve. The beads are even and round and they have the all-important neat and tidy, slightly dimpled area around the bead holes. Kathy turned the deep pink frit bead on the left into a fabulous chunky tab.

It looks like Kathy's well and truly caught the lampworking bug. After I emailed her the photos of her first beads she said :

"I had a fantastic time and am totally hooked! I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone."

All of my beadmaking lessons are now fully booked but I will let you know if there any cancellations.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

'Nimbus' Lentils

Lampwork Lentil BeadsI think I had grey on the brain when I made these. While I was looking at glass colours last night I was repeatedly drawn to shades of grey. I reckon it was the train journey home from Cambridge yesterday that was responsible for my colour choice, or lack thereof. It was a dismal day and the sky was full of rainclouds. It was pretty much the same today. Grey is nice for beads, though - a subtle hue that looks fab with silver and can be worn with anything.

Monday 12 January 2009

I look like Alan Davies in drag

Joy's BraceletI was in Cambridge at the weekend and when I got home today I switched on my computer to find a huge wodge of emails, some bead-related and some not. There was also an absolute shedload of spam. Emails from banks where I don't even hold an account and super-duper deals from Vista Flippin' Print along with offers aplenty of cheap bead imports, medicine, hot girls that are ready to chat to me now and patches that will do miraculously wondrous things to pieces of anatomy that I don't even possess. I love the internet, I really do, but I hate spam!

One of the nice and normal bead-related emails I received was from Joy who sent me this photo of a bracelet that she made with her first beads. Isn't it fab?!

You may have gathered from the title of this post that I'm currently in the midst of a hair crisis. This happens every now and again. As you might know I'm 'blessed' with curly hair which annoyingly has a mind of its own. I need to find a new hairdresser but in my experience hairdressers that can cut curly hair well seem to be few and far between. Sam, my hairdresser back in Southampton, was wonderful and she knew exactly how my hair 'works'. My mop could really do with some sort of professional help right now but I'm nervous about trying a new salon. My hair looks enough of a mess as it is and I don't want to risk trying somewhere new and then walking out looking like Brian May. That would be bad. Last week I discovered a wonderful website - Naturally Curly - which is full of advice and information for us curly girlies and it has a really well-stocked shop full of interesting-looking hair products. Thing is, it's a US-based site and the financial mess our country is in makes buying things from America pretty dang expensive at the moment. Rubbish. Anyway, by looking at the Naturally Curly website I've discovered that my curls are type 3A. I didn't even know that there was some kind of Curly Locks Classification System, but now I do.

So I guess I'm going to have to bite the bullet and go find me a salon and I think I'm going to have to do that walk-in-and-speak-to-someone thing. I hate that. I've never been a girly girl and hairdressing salons make me feel uneasy. It's all the technical hair language, forced conversation, girly chit-chat and staring at yourself in the mirror with your hair in some crazy pinned-up mess while wearing a back-to-front-cape-and-a-rubber-car-mat-thing that puts me off. Plus all the other ladies in the salon always seem to be having interesting and complicated colouring and cutting done - things that involve spacey-looking swimming caps and tin foil. I always feel a bit of a frump just having a trim and a few layers done. Going to the hairdresser is quite a stressful thing. Am I alone in thinking that or does anyone else feel that way too?

Okay, I'm going to stop droning on about my 'do (it's more like a 'don't, actually) and instead I'm off to work out what colour beads I fancy making tomorrow. But before I go I'm going to say two words - 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Go see it. It's an awesome (as Chris would say) movie. Definitely one of the best films I've seen in a very long while.

Thursday 8 January 2009

'Unbelievably Blue' Lentils

Lampwork Lentil BeadsThese lentil lovelies are such a vibrant shade of blue. I kind of stumbled upon this particular colour by accident. I like it when that happens!

Joy's First Beads

Joy's First Lampwork BeadsYesterday was my first beadmaking lesson of the year and it was brilliant. My student was Joy who is a Senior Certified Art Clay Instructor. You can take a look at her wonderful website by clicking here. Joy also makes beautiful enamelled jewellery but she'd never had a go at glass beadmaking before.

The picture above shows all the beads that Joy created in her seven hour beadmaking lesson. I've strung them in the order that she made them. Her first one was the plain blue one at the top and if you follow the strand round from there you'll see Joy's progression from plain round beads to frit beads, to dotty beads, then stringer beads, a squashed tab bead and finally a bubbledot bead.

How impressive is that?!

Joy sent me a lovely email last night which ended with :

"Please put in your blog that I think you are a great teacher and loved my day!!!"

Aw, thank you, Joy! I really enjoyed our day of glass melting too.

I have a couple of lessons left if you fancy having a go at lampwork. Please click here for more information about tuition.


Bertrand BlackbirdThis little fella is Bertrand the blackbird. For the last few days he's been visiting the back garden to grab the occasional snack. Sometimes he brings his wife, Bertina. She's a bit camera-shy, though .....

Tuesday 6 January 2009

'Dreamy' Lentils

Lampwork Lentil BeadsThese are like the 'Neptune' ones in the last post but in purple and pink. Prettiness!

Monday 5 January 2009

'Neptune' Lentils

Lampwork Lentil BeadsI wish you could see these for real - the colours are just yum! These cased lentils contain swathes of light blue and a luscious kingfisher blue. Each bead has a smattering of blue-green enamel which I've left ever so slightly raised for a touchable texture.

Friday 2 January 2009

Seriously Nice

Hotel Chocolat GemstonesI just had to tell you about these little chocolatey pieces of loveliness. Chris got me a bag of Hotel Chocolat 'Gemstones' for Christmas and oh my, they are so freakin' good! I urge fellow chocolate fiends to buy some and taste their deliciousness. I'm going to have to get myself some more .....

'Fruity' Nuggets

Lampwork Nugget BeadsHmmm. 'Fruity Nuggets' sounds like some new brand of breakfast cereal. I admit, it's a lame name but it describes these glass gems nicely. They're fruity-coloured beads shaped into tactile nugget shapes. See? The name works. I spent a while flame polishing each bead which has given them the most incredible glossy shine. Gleamy!