Sunday 29 November 2009

Earring Pairs

Lampwork Glass Bead PairThe beads for sale tonight will all be sets of earring pairs. Obviously you don't have to use them for earrings but I've taken every effort to ensure that they're the same size in case you do!

Tonight's pairs include the Storm Cloud ones above and the chocolate and lavender spotty ones pictured below.

Lampwork Glass Bead Pair
These pairs and more will be for sale in the usual place at 8.30pm (UK time) tonight.

And I'd just like to say a huge 'thank you' to everyone who has purchased a copy of my Roly Poly Bead tutorial. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's Roly Poly beads!

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Year-round Laurabeads

Bead Calendar ArtworkChris and I may not have filmed any beadmaking movies this weekend just gone but instead we designed a Beads By Laura 2010 calendar. Erm, I say 'we' but in actual fact Chris did all the Photoshop designy stuff and I just sat there occasionally saying things like 'Too bright!', 'No. I don't like those beads!' and 'Can you crop that one there?' Mind you, I did decide what pictures to use for each month. I tried to theme them. For example, January has frosty blue Luminobeads, there's my Poppies for November and some pretty Starburst beads for December.

I ordered one copy of the calendar to see what it looks like. It arrived this morning and I am SO pleased with it! I used to work in the printing industry (so I kind of know what's good and what's naff) and this calendar really is top-notch as far as small-print-run type printing goes. It's printed on nice thick 200gsm satin paper and is wirobound for easy hanging.

The photograph at the top of this post is of the actual artwork Chris did and shows the beads that are pictured inside the calendar and the other two are of the real thing.

Actual Calendar On Wall
The calendar is A4 size so it's not too big but big enough to give a kitchen, studio or wherever a nice splash of colour. And the really good thing about it is there are no country-specific holidays and dates (like Bank Holidays) marked on it so the calendar will work wherever in the world you may be.

Bead CalendarI'm going to order some of these for relatives and I thought I'd ask you if you'd like one too? They're a tad more expensive than your usual Clinton Cards Cliff Richard ones but that's because I'm not printing nine bazillion of them. The price will be £15.00 per calendar including postage to the UK and it'll be an extra £2.00 for overseas postage. Please email me if you'd like to buy a calendar.

A big massive thank you to my wonderful fella for spending aaaages making my first beady calendar. Love you, Mister G!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Gifts From Joy

Gifts From JoyI taught my last lampworking lesson of the year today and it was very fitting that my last student was also the first of the year. Joy Funnell came back (obviously I can't be that bad!) for more glass melting fun and she brought me some lovely gifts - a fab book about knitting and crocheting with wire and beads, some Art Clay Silver and a totally gorgeous fine silver button made by Joy herself.

Fine Silver Button by Joy FunnellIsn't it great? I need to create something that will show off its true shiny beauty.

Joy is an Art Clay Silver Jedi Master and if you've never had a look at her work I urge you to do so for it is utterly fabulous. Her enamel work is pretty dang spectacular too. Joy also teaches so if you fancy trying your hand at some Art Clay Silver why not book yourself a lesson with her?

I have no idea what I'm going to make with my Art Clay Silver. I've only ever had one go with it before (longtime readers may remember my Darth Vader earrings) but Joy told me how to make some simple beads so I may have a go at that. I'll make sure that I keep you posted and let you know how it goes .....

Sunday 22 November 2009

2010 Tuition

Beads By Laura HQI know that 2010 is next year but it's really not that far away. Lots of you have been making enquiries about tuition and I've been uncertain about it as Chris and I are getting a place next year so I couldn't allocate dates because ..... well, I couldn't. But we had a big grown-up chat today about the moving thing (not easy for two people who are not very grown-up) and we even wrote stuff down and worked out numbers and things and now I can say for certain that I will be teaching in my conservatory 'studio' in Abingdon, near Oxford from January through to the end of April.

I travel to see Chris every other weekend so I will fit my teaching around that.

You can book either a three hour lampworking session for £90.00 or a five hour one for £130.00. The prices include all materials etc. I'm happy to teach total beginners or intermediate lampworkers looking to learn more advanced techniques.

Please email me if you'd like to book a lampworking session. I will need a 50% deposit (non-refundable) at the time of booking with the remainder payable on the day of your lesson.

Definite teaching days will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and I will be able to fit in some Fridays and Saturdays so do email me with any dates that you have in mind and we'll go from there.

Sorry if this sounds a bit vague. That's because it is. But basically, to sum up, I will definitely be teaching January through April but I have no concrete dates set aside for this. Just let me know if you'd like to come melt glass with me and we'll sort something out!

Friday 20 November 2009

A little bit of luxury

Knitted Neck WarmerWhen I saw that Stash Fine Yarns had some pure cashmere yarn in their sale I knew I had to have some. And when they had some mauve left ..... well, it was meant to be.

Knitted Neck WarmerBut what to do with just 75 grams of purply-pink cashmere? That's not a lot of yarn so I pootled around on Ravelry and found a sweet little pattern for a neck warmer. I set to work and completed the project in just one evening. It is sooo soft. Pure luxury!

Knitted Neck WarmerIt's going to be great for cold wet days. No soggy scarf ends. No under-the-coat scarf bulk. Just snuggly, gorgeous cashmere. I've ordered some more yarn so I can make myself a matching pair of gloves.

Thursday 19 November 2009

'Rusty' Lentils

Lampwork Glass Lentil BeadsI visited my Grandparents yesterday and in their garden is a tree which has the most amazing autumnal orange leaves and red berries. I knew immediately that I wanted to capture those colours in glass bead form, so voila - here are my 'Rusty' lentils.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Silk Scarf V2.0

Hand Knitted Silk ScarfDo you remember that gorgeous silk yarn I bought back in August? Well, I did start a scarf with it but to be honest I didn't like the way it was knitting up so I frogged it and have started anew. This time I think the pattern really shows off the beauty of the yarn. It's knitted on small needles so it's going to take a while but so far so good .....

Monday 16 November 2009

Frosty Prettiness

Etched Lampwork Glass BeadsI've treated myself to a new jar of etching solution and to celebrate this fact I've gone a little bit Luminobead crazy! These will be for sale on the Freshly Baked Beads page of my site at 8.30pm (UK time) tomorrow evening.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Prize Draw Winner

I've just done the whole Lego tombola thing. It took ages as this draw was the biggest I've done (with regard to the number of entrants) and writing all the names was a long job. I don't have a photo as my camera batteries are flat but the winner is ..... Summer! Well done you! Please email me with your address and I'll get your Lonelies in the post.

Thank you to all who took part. Make sure you check back next month for the final bead giveaway of 2009. I promise it'll be a good'un ......

Saturday 14 November 2009

I'm not superstitious but .....

Lampwork Glass Beads..... Friday the thirteenth turned out to be a really naff day all in all. Last night even my computer joined in on the whole let's-annoy-Laura-today thing. So, my apologies to anyone who was refreshing the Freshly Baked Beads page last night but to no avail. I was trying my best to get things to work but they just wouldn't. I think I've fixed my computer troubles and now the beads pictured above can be found in the usual place.

Friday 13 November 2009


Lampwork Glass BeadsI definitely had to pull waaay more stringer than I thought I would need for these. All those swirly scrolls seemed to eat the stuff!

Lampwork Glass BeadsThese pretty beads have a pale ivory-coloured core which I've cased in clear and the scrolls are a soft periwinkle blue. Such delicate colours.

They will be for sale on my website tonight at 8.30pm (UK time).

Thursday 12 November 2009

Random Poetry Moment

I came up with this rhyming couplet while I was teaching on Tuesday and now I can't get the thing out of my head .....

"Always pull more stringer than you think you'll need,
For there's nothing worse than running out mid-bead."

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Snug. Cosy. Warm.

Hand Knitted Hooded CardiganThis morning I finished knitting the hooded cardigan that I've been working on. I'm so pleased with it. It fits like a dream and is very soft and snuggly. The pattern I used is called 'Basic Chic Hoodie' and was written by Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits. Bonne Marie has a whole load of beautiful patterns so if you're a fellow knitter then do head over to her site and have a look around.

Hand Knitted Hooded CardiganMy hooded cardi is knitted in Cascade 220 from Pavi Yarns in a shade called 'Walnut'. I'm totally in love with the buttons. They're a fab pearly brown. They remind me of nail varnish in the bottle - you know, when it looks all pearly and swirly and pretty and you wish it would end up looking like that on your fingers or toes but it never does. Do you know what I mean? You do? Well, the buttons look like that.

Now I'm off to wind some of my sock yarn into a ball and get click-clacking away on those needles!

Toika Designs

Necklace By Toika VuilleToika Vuille, a wonderful customer of mine, sent me some photographs of jewellery that she's made with my glass beads. My favourite one was this gorgeous necklace that features one of my Cinnamon Floratabs. I just love the clean lines and the smooth simplicity of the design.

Toika is in the process of expanding her website but do pop over there, take a look and maybe bookmark it so you can check back to see more of her beautiful jewellery designs in the future.

If you've got any photos of jewellery that you've made with my beads then please do email them to me as I always like to see what my beads get up to once the postman has delivered them to their new homes.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Fire Works

Beadmaking Action @ Fire Works, BristolI taught a beadmaking class on Saturday at Fire Works Gallery & Studio up in Bristol and it really was an ace day! Five ladies came along for the class and many fab beads were made. The picture above shows the students totally absorbed in their work.

Fire Works is owned and run by Georgina Black and it's a wonderful place - if you're ever in Bristol do drop in and have a look at all the beautiful jewellery and arty bits that she has for sale. If you're lucky you might see some lampworking happening too .....

Sunday 8 November 2009

Bead Movie : Stringer Demonstration

This afternoon Chris filmed me making a stringer bead. I should point out that this movie isn't a tutorial as such. It's more of a demonstration thing so you can see how I apply stringer. Of course, you get a load of my waffle which you may find useful. Maybe. Chris played around with various camera angles but we went with this one as you get an almost Laura's Eye View of the beadmaking action. It's important that you see not just the bead but the positioning of it in the flame and also where my hands are. At the start you also get some Laura-swinging-around-and-fidgeting-on-her-chair action too! Sorry about that. We hope you like the movie. There is no step-by-step version of this one as there really are no steps to stringer application. It'd go something like "Step 1 - Make bead. Step 2 - Apply stringer." See? Doesn't really work. So I may well write some hints and tips for stringer application instead.

Friday 6 November 2009

Hollow Nuggets

Hollow Lampwork Glass BeadsHollow beads are surprisingly lightweight for their size (I wish I could say the same about me) and they are also incredibly sturdy.

I've shaped these hollows into tactile nuggety shapes. They're made from one of my favourite glasses - a beautiful lavender-rose colour. I've decorated the beads with streamers of metallic fuchsia pink.

I can just see these strung into a chunky statement necklace or maybe each one could be a pendant? Oh, I don't know - I'll leave that jewellery stuff to the professionals!


Lampwork Glass BeadsThese shiny red beauties will be for sale on my site tonight at the slightly earlier than usual time of 7.30pm (UK time).

Thursday 5 November 2009

Calling all jewellery designers!

Detail of Richard Dadd's 'The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke'If you make jewellery with art beads and you've never visited Art Bead Scene then do head on over there to see what it's all about.

If, on the other hand, you do know about the Art Bead Scene blog you'll be aware of the monthly jewellery design challenges that they run.

Each month the Art Bead Scene people choose a theme or an artwork that becomes the basis for all of the monthly challenge entries. This month the inspiration is Richard Dadd's 'The Fairy Fellers' Master-Stroke' which is a highly detailed painting, part of which can be seen at the top of this post. To have a look at the entire image please visit the November Monthly Challenge post on the Art Bead Scene blog and then why not get jewellery-making and join in? I know for a fact that there are many talented jewellery designers amongst my lovely readers and I would love it if one of you were to win! All the information you need to know regarding taking part can be found here.

The prize this month includes a book, findings, charms, beading supplies and some Cupcake beads from little old me. Please click here to see more details of what the lucky winner will receive.

Now, get inspired, get your art beads and findings out and get creating!

Tuesday 3 November 2009

November Prize Draw

November Prize Draw BeadsIt's giveaway time again and the prize is this bunch of twelve of my Lonelies beads. These are all one-offs, experiments and leftovers from sets. All of the beads are first quality - no seconds.

November Prize Draw BeadsThe beads include a gorgeous chunky heart focal, a big hollow aquamarine nugget and an assortment of interesting rounds.

November Prize Draw BeadsIf you fancy a chance of winning this little lot all you need to do is leave me a comment or send me an email telling me to enter your name in the draw and on Sunday 15th November I shall draw a winner at random from my Lego tombola.

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

Good luck!

Monday 2 November 2009

'Apple & Blueberry'

Lampwork Glass BeadsRemember I showed you that gorgeous green CiM 'Mojito' glass last week?

Well, this is what I've done with it. The glass is fabulous to work with and the green is just divine. I've decorated the beads with some fine purple stringerwork.

These will be available over on my website at 8.30pm tonight.

Last day for charity auction

This is just a quick note to remind you that Mel Poxon's Collective Charity Auction will finish this evening at 8.30pm UK time. There's a wealth of bead beauties up for auction including a set of my Galaxy beads (Lot 10). Please click here for a look-see.

I'll be back tonight with some beads to show you .....

Sunday 1 November 2009

Spooky Saturday

PumpkinAs you can probably tell by the lack of bloggage I've been a tad busy. My sister Sally and the kids came up on Thursday to stay for a couple of nights. Much fun was had!

Chris also came down for the weekend and on Saturday morning he and Robyn did a touch of Halloween pumpkin carving. Chris had never made a Jack-o'-lantern before (can you believe that?!) and I think he did a superb job. We put the lit pumpkin outside the front door last night and waited for an influx of trick-or-treaters. Yeah, that never happened - we got a grand total of three visits. So now I have a big bowl of fun-size Twix left. I guess I'll have to eat them. Shame .....

Tutorial : Basic Encased Bead

Encased Bead My last tutorial was about casing a bead with a thick, magnifying layer of transparent glass. This one shows you how I encase a donut-shaped bead with a thinner layer of glass. Again, these make wonderful base beads for stringerwork or for other surface decoration. Please click here to see a video of me demonstrating this technique.
I have a Carlisle Mini CC torch and for this tutorial I'm using CiM Glacier, Vetrofond clear and a 1/16 mandrel.

Step 1

Lampwork Encasing TutorialMake a small donut-shaped bead. I tend to aim for a base bead that's about 8-9mm in diameter. You should bear in mind that your encasing glass is going to dramatically affect the finished size of your bead so always start off small. Keep your base bead warm by wafting it through the top part of the flame while you heat a gather of clear glass ready for encasing. You need to heat a glob of clear that's approximately three times the size of your base bead.

Step 2

Lampwork Encasing TutorialAt this point your base bead should be warm but not glowing. Once your gather of casing glass is really molten you need to press it onto the bead, pushing the molten glass so that it spreads out to cover the width of the bead. Do not touch the mandrel with the casing glass.

Lampwork Encasing TutorialAs you press, turn the mandrel slowly away from you to gather the molten glass from the rod. This part is particularly tricky to describe in words so it may help if you take a look at the video (at about the 2:40 mark) to see exactly what I mean.

Step 3

Lampwork Encasing TutorialMelt your casing glass off. I usually do this on the left hand side of the bead. As you can see, I haven't gone too close to the bead hole with the casing glass.

Step 4

Lampwork Encasing TutorialNow you'll probably need to add some clear glass to the right hand side of the bead in order to even things up. Build your bead as evenly as you can and it'll save you time later on.

Step 5

Lampwork Encasing TutorialBring your bead out of the flame to cool it down and stabilise it a bit. Then reheat the left hand edge of the bead. You want to aim the flame at the encasing. Once the glass is glowing take a Corina Magic Wand (or similar metal tool) and gently nudge the clear glass toward the bead hole. Again, don't touch the mandrel with the glass. You're just helping the glass on its way using a gentle pushing, nudging action. Now bring the bead out of the flame and let the glow in it subside.

Step 6

Lampwork Encasing TutorialRepeat the glass nudging process on the right hand side of the bead and keeping the mandrel turning and horizontal take it out of the flame to cool it slightly.

Step 7

Lampwork Encasing TutorialOnce the glow has gone, put the bead back into the flame and heat it to an even glow and then round up your bead.

Step 8

Lampwork Encasing TutorialNow for a little moment of quality control. Bring the bead out of the flame and check it for any colour bleed. If you need to make the bead bigger you can add a little more casing glass then reheat and round up.

Step 9

Lampwork Encasing TutorialThe finished bead all ready to be decorated.

Hints & Tips

This technique is fabulous for playing with colour. Create new shades by layering coloured transparents over opaques. For example, try amber over red for a rich warm orange, cobalt over light sky blue for a gorgeous royal blue and of course, the classic Corina combo of amethyst over periwinkle for a delicious deep purple. Roll your base bead in frit before you encase for simple but very pretty beads. The casing adds a beautiful depth and sparkle. Try wrapping a stringer of silvered ivory or maybe some silver wire around the base bead. Again, simple but effective. Creation Is Messy (CiM) opaque glasses make excellent bases for encasing as they tend to be slightly stiffer. I personally love Glacier, Gelly's Sty and Dirty Martini. (And no, I'm not sponsored by CiM or anything - I just LOVE their glass!) 

  All images and text in this tutorial copyright © Laura Sparling 2009

I'm on the YouTube!

Following the great response to the Basic Thick Encasing tutorial I thought I'd do one on regular encasing. Chris was down here for the weekend and I asked him to do my step-by-step photos for the written tutorial and then we had the brainwave of making a little bead movie.
So, after Chris got all Spielberg he edited the footage for me and we're now pleased to present my first how-to video. It's of me showing you how I make a basic encased bead. Please excuse my burnt workbench, Hampshire accent and occasional slightly stern instructions ..... "DON'T touch the mandrel!" Anyway, I hope you like the video and that it is of some use to you. I'd like to say a big thank you to Chris for helping me with all the technical video stuff. If you like the movie do let me know and we may well make some more . Please click here for my YouTube channel.
I will do the written version of this later so do check back for that tonight.