Monday 24 February 2014

A splash of sunshine

Lampwork glass bead bracelet

It's an absolutely gorgeous day here. I'm sat here packing up orders (waiting for the propane man to bring me a gas refill) with the back door open. Nigel's running in and out of the place like a mad thing and Ruth is outside in her run, munching grass. She's a bit better but not quite right. I'm going to see how she goes today and tomorrow and then I might call the vet. Again.

Before my gas sputtered out yesterday morning I was able to make some amber-yellow beads for a couple of heart bracelets. I know yellow is always a dodgy colour because you either like to wear it or hate to do so. I'm the latter. Yellow looks awful on me. But hey, maybe it looks fabulous on you or someone you know? There are two of these 'Sunshine' bracelets for sale in my shop.

I've just made a few changes to my postage options. Prices have stayed the same but I've added the options of Special Delivery and International Signed For for those who like a little extra peace of mind. All postage, packing and dispatch details can be found here.

Oooh, gas man has just pulled up outside. I'd better go and see to that.

Have a good day!

Saturday 22 February 2014

Why I don't do remakes, orders or commissions

A photo of my torch (and messy desk) just because wordy photographless blog posts can look boring

Almost every day somebody asks me if there's going to be more of a particular bead set, or if I'm going to make any more of these beads that they've seen in my gallery or if I can make them those beads but in a different colour or size.

I love that people like my beads. I love that people want to buy my beads, I really do.

But my answer to those emails is always the same.


And I appreciate that this might be disappointing or annoying. I also appreciate that you might think I'm an ungrateful cow who is being awkward or who doesn't want the business.

I'm not.

Some of the beads in my gallery are anything up to about eight years old. There are several reasons why I can't or won't reproduce them ...

The glass I used for the beads is no longer available.
Sometimes glass is only available in limited batches. This is especially so with Creation Is Messy glass which I use a lot. Some of the Italian glasses I've used might have been 'odd lots' (production mistakes or anomalies) and they will never be made again. I often get sent one or two rods of glass as samples or gifts. After I've used them, there is no more.

The moon was in just the right phase. 
I have made beads that I would love to make again but for some reason I just can't. Maybe this is because I was in a really brilliant mood on the day I made them. Or maybe I had a certain pair of socks on that gave me magical glass powers. Perhaps my torch was set at a slightly different flame and the oxygen and propane levels were freakishly superb. Maybe the weather filled me with a zing and a zest and I was beadily unstoppable that day. Or perhaps I just forgot how I made a particular bead design. Trust me, you only need to do one thing differently - aim the flame at the 'wrong' point, tilt the mandrel differently or use the incorrect amount of encasing - to get inconsistent results.

I just don't want to.
Some beads are absolute buggers to make. Sometimes I have the patience for them and sometimes I don't. Simple as that.

The beads were a one-off.
There are beads in my gallery that I won't make again because they were promised as one-offs to customers. There are also beads in my gallery that I won't make again because they have very special meanings or memories attached to them and it would feel wrong to remake them. I know that sounds really bizarre but it's true.

More recently, there's also a financial reason. I don't buy glass to keep in stock 'just in case', same as I no longer buy sterling silver to keep in stock just in case someone asks for certain jewellery. 'Just in case' stock would be a wonderful thing to have but I'm not in a financial position to do that. Anyone who has bought my beads for several years will have seen the price of them go down. Nowadays most people just don't have the money like they used to. In turn, neither do I. Even though my prices have dropped considerably, twice last year I was told that my work is overpriced. I'm not going to whinge on about money because frankly I find it bloody awful when I see and hear other beadmakers doing so but just know that my work is very utterly totally not overpriced. It might be out of some people's price ranges but that is not my fault. You know what? I'd really like an iPad but I don't email Apple and tell them they're too expensive for me. I just ... don't have the iPad. (I'm sorry if that sounds rude or brash but talking about money can so often be that way so let's just stop it now, yes?)

The main reason I don't do bead remakes, custom orders or requests is a simple yet simultaneously complex one. 


I've been a creative person for as long as I can rewind my brain. I'm used to the fits and starts that my creativity occurs in. I'm used to its battery-like properties where it can be fully charged and I'll not be able to stop making stuff, right through to its flatness where I've not got any creative power at all and the only thing I can do is rest the make-and-do lobe of my brain and let it recharge. I'm used to my brain but I totally understand that you might not be. (I do hope other creative folk understand what I mean?)

My creativity is also affected by my state of mind. If I'm upset or worried about something then that will show in my work. During those times I tend to stick to simple beads - spacers, hearts, nuggets and encased rounds. When I'm on top of the world, my more complex designs happen - the really dotty beads, the encased, highly detailed ones and the decorative florals. When I'm ticking over somewhere in between, my normal beads occur - the stringer ones, the polka dots, the owls and the like.

There's also the case of not wanting to make the same thing over and over. I knit but I don't knit the same socks or the same scarf repeatedly because that wouldn't be fun. It would become stale and boring. It'd be like an artist painting the same picture over and over again. I'm not a machine. I've never churned out beads, mainly because I just won't and also because I'm such a perfectionist and every single bead that leaves the shed is right. I pride myself on the quality of my work and second quality beads just don't happen in my shed. If it's not right, it gets killed in the water jug. Some people find that an odd attitude but hey, I'm an odd person and I'm just fine with that.

So there you have it. Those are the reasons why I no longer do remakes, custom orders or commissions. I know it's annoying and I do apologise. These days I just have beadmaking sessions and I make several of one design or several sets the same and sell them when I have them. I appreciate that this is inconsistent and unreliable (and those are not very positive words, I know) but I hope that this here waffling on explains why this is so.

Thank you for your interest in my work and thank you, my lovely customers, for your custom. I hope nobody takes offence at this post. Never think that I'm ungrateful for or unappreciative of your business. It's quite the opposite, I assure you, because without my customers there would be no Beads By Laura.

Weekend Discount

Little weekend website discount for you. WOOYAY!

Friday 21 February 2014

Even more heart things

Lampwork glass bead bracelets

I've just put some more heart bracelets in the shop. There are five different colours available and each bracelet costs £15.00.

Ruth and I went to the vet yesterday afternoon. We came away with more medicine and some green sludge that I have to feed her with a syringe. She's perked up a little bit today which is fab. She's in her run in the garden at the moment and it's been so nice to see her out and about, nibbling the grass.

Have a super duper Friday night!

Thursday 20 February 2014

More heart things

Lampwork glass 'Prettiness' bracelet
I've been quiet because I've been juggling making beads with looking after my unwell guinea pig. She had an operation a few days ago and she's not recovered very well. I think I'll be off to the vet again later. But here I be now with a little bead update.

There are two more Rose heart sets and some new Steel grey ones. There are also two more of the lavender Prettiness bracelets made up. All of these are available here.

I'll have some more beady things very soon. I just need to clean, string/assemble and photograph them. I don't know if that'll be tonight or tomorrow; depends on how things go with Ruth pig.

Monday 17 February 2014

Heart Sets

Lampwork glass beads

I've just put some little heart sets in the shop. Each set contains a dozen 7mm spacers and a 15mm heart and they're great for making bracelets. These heart sets are £8.00 each and are available here.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Pretty simple, simply pretty

Lampwork glass red heart bracelet

I know this 'Red' bracelet is a very simple one but sometimes simple things can be nice.

It's made in CiM Bing which is a rich orange-red. I'll have a bit more to say about this glass in my next CiM testing post which will be up in a couple of days.

I've currently got three of these bracelets, two are in the shop and I'm giving the third one away in a Facebook contest

I hope that the current weather isn't affecting you too much. If you're in one of the flood-stricken areas then I'm sending you my bestest wishes.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

CiM Testing: Marine

Lampwork glass beads made with CiM 'Marine'

This is the colour from the latest Creation Is Messy testing batch that really made my eyes light up. Marine. It is just beautiful.
Lampwork glass bead made with CiM 'Marine'

CiM describe Marine as 'a dark transparent aqua blue' which I agree with but I'd say it's got a hint of teal green about it too. Remember Tuscan Teal and Trade Winds from a previous testing post? Well, it's like those two colours mixed together to create a rich, deep oceanic blue of utter wonder. (I love it, can you tell?)
Lampwork glass beads made with CiM 'Marine'
The beads in this set are Marine thinly encased with CiM clear and Effetre white thinly encased with Marine. The decoration is Effetre turquoise. The spacers are just plain Marine and turquoise.

I always fear that a green-blue glass will bubble and pit when heated but Marine didn't. It's smooth and bubble free and is lovely to work with. It reacted with the turquoise and this can be seen very well in the polka dotty bead; the turquoise has done its darker-in-the-middle thing but more than it usually does.
Lampwork glass beads made with CiM 'Marine'

I had a funny feeling that Marine wouldn't etch very well because it's quite similar to Leaky Pen and I've not had brilliant etching results with that. Sure enough, even after fifteen minutes in the Dip 'n' Etch, this plain Marine bead is still a bit patchy in places.
Lampwork glass bead made with CiM 'Marine'
But heck, why would you want to etch such a vibrant, gorgeous colour anyway? This glass just sings when the sun shines through it and even though I've tried my best I've still not captured its gloriousness in these photographs.

I think Marine would look superb with oranges, ambers and purples. I'll have to get me some more to play with so I can see if that's so.

Marine is available now and I reckon it's a definite must for your glass stash.

EDIT: Another CiM glass tester has reported incompatibility issues betwixt Marine and Effetre white. I made these test beads on Monday morning and at the time of this edit I have had no such issues. I'll report back if that changes.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

CiM Testing: Flax & Hazelnut Mousse

Lampwork glass beads made in CiM Flax and Hazelnut Mousse

My latest bundle of Creation Is Messy testing glass arrived last week and yesterday I finally got the chance to sit and have a play with two of the new colours. The Flax and Hazelnut Mousse just seemed to want to go together so who was I to argue?

Lampwork glass beads made in CiM Flax and Hazelnut Mousse
A few years back I bought an odd lot of Vetrofond amber. It was a really pale champagne colour. It was in 10mm diameter rods which made it hard to work with but because the colour was so pretty I persevered and the few bead sets I made with that glass were really popular. CiM Flax is almost identical to that Vetrofond odd lot. Flax is a very pale yellow; think white wine or champagne. Unlike champers, the glass is bubble free and it's a superb consistency. It etches like a dream too.

I paired the Flax with Hazelnut Mousse which is a light beige, pale sand colour. It's gorgeous. Streak free, perfect for stringerwork, a nice base for encasing. It kept nice crisp edges even when pulled out really thinly for the scrollwork beads. Again, it etches really well too.

I made this set of beads using just Flax and Hazelnut Mousse. 
Lampwork glass beads made in CiM Flax and Hazelnut Mousse
From left to right ...

  • Small cylindrical core of Hazelnut Mousse heavily encased in Flax, Hazelnut Mousse decoration and etched
  • Small cylindrical core of Hazelnut Mousse heavily encased in Flax, Hazelnut Mousse decoration
  • Round core of Hazelnut Mousse thinly encased in Flax, Hazelnut Mousse decoration and etched
  • Round core of Hazelnut Mousse thinly encased in Flax, Hazelnut Mousse decoration

The spacers are a mix of normal and etched.

I absolutely love this pairing of two fantastic CiM  glasses. It's delicate, neutral and ever so pretty.

Lampwork glass beads made in CiM Flax and Hazelnut Mousse

Both of these colours are limited runs. The Flax is available now and I think I'm correct in saying that the Hazelnut Mousse will be available later in the spring, so keep your eyes open for that one.