Tuesday 6 May 2014

Hoots & Fruits

Lampwork glass strawberry beads by Laura Sparling

I've finished updating the Beads-O'-Whimsy section of my shop. There are now owls and strawberries in there.

Lampwork glass owl bead set by Laura Sparling
Just like the sheep, ladybirds and Bumblebeads, the owls and strawberries are available as individual loose beads, as charms and stitch markers and also as feature-bead-and-a-dozen-spacers sets.

I had some backing cards printed for my stitch marker sets and I'm pretty pleased with the way they look.

Lampwork glass owl bead stitch marker set by Laura Sparling

I'll soon have some sets featuring beads that don't have eyes, so stay tuned ...

Saturday 3 May 2014


They're back! The constantly perturbed Bumblebeads have returned and they've settled in various sections of my bead shop.

They're available as ... 

Lampwork glass Bumblebead by Laura Sparling

... single loose Bumblebeads (£4.50) ...

Lampwork glass Bumblebead set by Laura Sparling

... Bumblebead and spacers sets (£7.00) ...

Lampwork glass Bumblebead charm by Laura Sparling

... charms (£5.50) ...
Lampwork glass bee stitch markers by Laura Sparling

... knitting stitch markers (£5.50) ...

Lampwork glass bee stitch markers by Laura Sparling

... crochet stitch markers (£5.50) ...

Lampwork glass bee stitch markers by Laura Sparling

... stitch marker sets (8.50) ...

Lampwork glass bee beads 'Honey' bracelet by Laura Sparling

... and as part of a 'Honey' bracelet (£50.00). This bracelet features five Bumblebeads, half a dozen honeycomb-esque rounds and some honey-coloured spacers. The two in the shop are silver plated ones but I can do a sterling silver version if you'd like.

I've had a little shop clearout and switch around. Nothing major but you can now find all of my beads-with-eyes in one place.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Loveliness of Ladybirds

Lampwork glass ladybird (ladybug) beads by Laura Sparling

Look what I found in my kiln! A whole loveliness of ladybirds. And no, I haven't made that up; I Googled it and apparently 'loveliness' is the accepted collective noun for ladybirds. How very ... lovely.

Anyway, I've been a-cleanin', a-makin' and a-photographin' all the ladybirds in their various finished states and they're all available over in my shop.

You can buy them as a ...

Lampwork glass ladybird (ladybug) bead by Laura Sparling

... single bead (£4.50) ...

Lampwork glass ladybird (ladybug) beads by Laura Sparling

... ladybird and spacers set (£7.00) ...

Lampwork glass ladybird (ladybug) bead charm by Laura Sparling

... charm (£5.50) ...

Lampwork glass ladybird (ladybug) bead knitting stitch marker by Laura Sparling

... knitting stitch marker (£5.50) ...

Lampwork glass ladybird (ladybug) bead crochet stitch marker by Laura Sparling

... crochet stitch marker (£5.50) ...

Lampwork glass ladybird (ladybug) bead stitch marker set by Laura Sparling

... or a stitch marker set with the fitting of your choice (£8.50).

Whew! There you go.

Here, have a picture of a dandelion. I took this in the garden yesterday.

Dandelion in the drizzle

It's just an unaltered iPhone shot with an Instagram filter over the top but I really like it.

Have a super Saturday!

Friday 18 April 2014

Sheep, sheep and a few more sheep

Lampwork glass sheep beads by Laura Sparling

Well, I'm overrun with sheep beads here. They're in the kiln, on the kitchen window sill, on the dinner table, on my knitting needles and I can also spy one on the coffee table. Sheep everywhere.

They're also in my shop.

They can be purchased as ...

Lampwork glass sheep bead by Laura Sparling

... an individual loose bead at £6.00 ...

Lampwork glass sheep bead charm by Laura Sparling

... a charm at £7.00 ...

Lampwork glass sheep bead knitting stitch marker by Laura Sparling

... a knitting stitch marker with a ring fitting at £7.00 ...

Lampwork glass sheep bead crochet stitch marker by Laura Sparling

... a crochet stitch marker with a clasp fitting at £7.00 ...

Lampwork glass sheep bead stitch marker set by Laura Sparling

... or as part of a set of five stitch markers, made with the fitting of your choice, at £10.00.

See? Sheep all over the show.

Have a very good Good Friday and a super duper long weekend!

Thursday 17 April 2014


Lampwork glass sheep bead by Laura Sparling

Oh heck, its been twelve days since I last blogged. That's a bit naff of me, isn't it?

What have I been doing? Well, I've been to the vet with the guinea pig and the cat. Again. I know. I'm sick of going, the vet must be sick of me going and my bank account is sick of the vet too. However, Ruth seems to be okay. She has no bladder stones (a £50 X-ray showed that) and she's on antibiotics for some sort of internal nethers infection. Nigel seems to have some kind of gastritis so I've been cooking him chicken and fish and feeding him small meals. We've got to just wait and see how he goes. (Thank goodness he's insured.) Nigel's also got a new drinking fountain which he loves. He loves both drinking from it and also splashing it all over the place like a child in a paddling pool.

Speaking of animals, I've taken to making them. Glass ones. That don't require special cooking and feeding, or medicine syringing into their faces twice a day.



I've had sheep on my mind recently. Odd, I know. I'm blaming it on listening to Felicity Ford's excellent KNITSONIK podcast and also stroking my Jamieson & Smith pure Shetland wool that I bought as part of a fingerless mitts kit from Kate Davies.

Gorgeous Kate Davies Designs 'Ecclefechan' fingerless mittens kit
Gorgeous Kate Davies Designs 'Ecclefechan' fingerless mittens kit

So, with the aforementioned sheep on my mind, I sat and twiddled about with glass and after about seven attempts I came up with the little fella at the top of this post. Chris has named him Baaarney. I say I had seven attempts but it was more like fifty-seven. (Seven just sounds less obsessive.) You see, there's no point in me making a bead that I'm potentially going to sell that I can't replicate. Each bead needs to be made in the same way, with bits added and worked on in the same order every time, so that I can make roughly the same bead over and over again.

Lampwork glass sheep bead by Laura Sparling
Baaarney, rearing up like a scared horse and also relaxing

The sheep is tiny. He's only about 10mm tall.

I've turned Baaarney into a stitch marker for my knitting. The sock in this photograph doesn't even require marking but I just like having a tiny glass sheep there, dangling from my needle.

Lampwork glass sheep bead stitch marker by Laura Sparling
Baaarney doing a knitting-related dangle

Facebook and Instagram seem to like Baaarney so I think I'll make a small flock for the shop.

Have a fun-filled Thursday!

Saturday 5 April 2014

Mini Sets

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

I've just put a few mini sets in the shop.

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

These little assortments would be great for making bracelets.

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

Each mini set is £13.50 and they're available here.

Have a groovy Saturday!

Friday 4 April 2014

Hello to you

Some lovely tulips

Hello! I am here and I am making beads. It's just that they're sold by the time I get to publish a blog about it. This is how I usually sell beads:
  1. Edit bead photos
  2. Create shop listings for them
  3. Set up Facebook post, blog and/or newsletter ready
  4. Make the shop listings live
  5. Go to publish the Facebook post, blog and/or newsletter
  6. BAM. The beads sell before I can carry out all of step five.
Now, please don't think I'm moaning because it's wonderful that my beads sell so fast, it truly is, and I thank you very much for liking them so, but I do get a few emails and messages from people who are desperate to get hold of some of my beads but just can't seem to. All I can suggest to those people is that if you have a Facebook account, please be sure to follow my bead page and using the menu under the 'like' button, click 'get notifications' to be kept right up to date. I think Google Alerts also allows you keep an eye on website updates but you'd have to check that out because I'm not one hundred percent sure.

But yes, those are two potential ways in which you can try and get to the front of the bead queue.

I know I'm a bit of a pain in not listing my beads in one go on one night at a certain time but to be honest, that doesn't suit me financially. Selling beads as I make them keeps a steady cashflow meandering in which I prefer, for various boring reasons, to having larger chunks of dosh less often. I guess it's a bit like the difference between being paid weekly or monthly.

Anyway ... I have been making beads, see?

Lots of lampwork glass beads

These all have new homes now. And yes, I know they all look like pretty much the same set but in different colours but there is a reason for this. I'm heading up to my ten year anniversary of making beads and as such I have amassed a ridiculous stash of glass rod odds and ends. In this stash are lots of discontinued colours or odd-lots but in some cases there's only one or two rods of each. I'm trying to use up as much of this old glass as I can because it seems like such a waste for it to be sat there quite literally gathering dust. These sets are like mini patchwork quilt kind of beads; a way of using up scraps in a pretty fashion. It also makes me use colours together that I might not usually use together which is always fun. So please bear with me whilst I continue working my way through my substantial glass scrapyard.

Lampwork glass owl bead
Finally, I know I said I don't do orders these days but quite a few of you have written and asked when there will be owls so I had a think and have decided that I will temporarily take orders for owl beads and necklaces.

This ordering window is open until 7.00pm on Sunday 6th April. After this date the ordering window will close and I will make and post all the ordered owls. As such, please allow up to fourteen days from the time of ordering (it'll most probably be less than this, though) for me to make and dispatch your owl bead order.

After all the orders are in I'll set aside a couple of days to make the owls. I get into a rhythm this way, you see, and making a whole batch is actually less stress-making for me than doing them in dribs and drabs.

I'll more than likely do a similar thing with the ladybirds and Bumblebeads at a later date.

Owls can be ordered here

What a lot of waffle. I'm heading shedwards now.

Thanks for reading, have a good Friday, don't get sniffing too much Saharan dust and enjoy your weekend.

(PS: The tulips at the top of this post bear zero relevance to it. It's just they're sat on the coffee table and they look nice and I thought they could pretty up my blog as well as the lounge.)

Saturday 15 March 2014

'Future's Bright'

Lampwork glass beads

I keep making orange beads lately. This is partly because there were a couple of oranges in my last CiM testing batch and partly because ... I don't know. Sometimes I just get a little fixated on a particular colour.

I can't recall if I've ever paired orange with grey before but I definitely have now. These 'Future's Bright' beads are made in CiM Alley Cat (more to be said about this orange in a future post) and Effetre grey and pale amber.

I won't lie - as I was making this set I was thinking "Laura, I think these might end up sitting unpurchased and unloved" but you know what? Even if they do, I don't mind because I really like them, so if you don't want them, I'll have them.

I really like the fact that this set is both subtle and zesty at the same time. As I've said in the description on their shop listing, imagine them with blue jeans and a grey T-shirt. They'd blend in but the orange would sing against blue denim and it'd add a "Hey! ZINGPOP!" to an everyday outift.

So yeah, if you too can see the potential in these orange and grey lovelies, there's just one set of them in my shop, priced at £17.50.

CiM Testing: Sunset, Daffodil & Bing

Lampwork glass beads made with CiM Sunset, Daffodil and Bing

I've been meaning to write this post for an age but life events (mainly involving a guinea pig) keep interrupting pretty much all my plans, but here I be now.

I've got three colours to talk about in this Creation Is Messy testing post - Sunset, a proper-proper orange, Daffodil, a bright, warm yellow and Bing, a transparent orange-red.

The photograph below shows Sunset and Daffodil both heavily and thinly encased with CiM clear and also as stringer.

Lampwork glass beads made with CiM Sunset and Daffodil

Sunset is (in my head) what an orange glass should be. It's not streaky, it's not too bright and it behaves itself. I had no cracking issues when I encased it and like other CiM oranges such as the wonderful Creamsicle, it works wonderfully as stringer. You can't do stringerwork with Effetre orange. (I mean their actual opaque orange; not their countless 'corals'.)

Lampwork glass beads made with CiM Sunset, Daffodil and Bing

CiM are also fab at yellow. I find the Effetre yellows to be either vile-looking or not opaque enough but Daffodil is just beautiful. It's a deep, vibrant yellow and again, it works perfectly as stringer and I had no encasing issues. That's right, a yellow that you can encase. I use CiM clear for encasing and have had no trouble encasing Daffodil, Hollandaise the Creamiscle-gone-yellow batch that floated about for a bit or Pumpkin. Some of those yellows are now no more but hey, those encasing funtimes were so good while they lasted.

Lampwork glass beads made with CiM Sunset, Daffodil and Bing

Both Sunset and Daffodil etch really well too. The 'Chilli' set at the top of this post, and also the beads above, feature both normal and etched beads.

Now for Bing. There always seems to be a transparent red in the CiM testing batches and as much as I adore red as a colour, I find it to be awkward as a glass; the opaques tend to get dark streaks (which is why I almost always dust it with red enamel in order to disguise that and achieve a uniform colour), the transparents need striking which is just annoying and can produce inconsistent colour results, and as a general rule, red and encasing mixeth not. So yes, I'm always a bit oh-it's-another-transparent-red and generally a bit meh when I get a red to test.

Lampwork glass bead bracelet made with CiM Bing

So imagine my delight when Bing turned out to be a NICE red to work with! It's actually pretty easy to get consistent colour results with it. I didn't encase it and I didn't decorate it. I only had one rod and I spent far too long just making spacers, marvelling at how easy it was to get lovely results. Bing has a orangeness about it which reminds me of strawberry tea. I was also able to make hearts with it which is normally a no with transparent reds because when I add the 'lobe' part of the heart I usually get a visible 'seam' where the base glass and lobe glass meet but NO, not with Bing. It also etches well.

To achieve consistent Bing colour results, I made a bead, brought it out of the flame until all the heat glow had disappeared plus about five seconds, then reheated it in the top section of my flame until a uniform redness covered the bead. Same as striking CiM Sangre, really.

All in all, these three colours are fab. If you love no-fuss, warm, fiery colours then all three of these are a must for your glass stash but you'll need to grab these whilst you can; all three are limited runs.

Thursday 13 March 2014


Lampwork glass lentil beads
I'm being superquickfast here because my broadband connection keeps going all skew-whiff but yes, there are two sets of these periwinkle and ivory 'Beach' lentils in the shop right now.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Beads all over the place

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

Crikey-big-bums*, I'm having a pillock* of a morning here.

I started off by dropping about 180 beads on the kitchen floor. They went everywhere. I rescued them all ... after I'd pulled out the fridge-freezer, the cooker, the washing machine and other assorted kitchen gubbins. Then Ruth started making help-me-Laura-it's-hurting noises so guess where I'm off to this afternoon? Yup, the vet.

I called them and started the conversation with "I know I sound like that lady on All Creatures Great And Small who was always moaning on about her poor dog Tricky-Woo, but please can you see my guinea pig? Again?" Seriously, they must be sick of me. I know I am.

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

Anyway, yes, I've just put two sets of each of these 'Bottle Green', 'Tangerine' and 'Candyfloss' beads in the shop. Each set is £13.00 and can be found here

*Feel free to substitute your own swear words here. I thought I'd be polite. For once.

Saturday 8 March 2014

'Indigo' & Damson'

Lampwork glass beads

The colours of these beads are so rich and vibrant. They're blue base beads with a thin layer of transparent dark ink blue (for the Indigo ones) and dark amethyst (for the Damson ones) over the top.

Lampwork glass beads

There are four sets of each in the shop rightEach one costs £13.00.

I had a lovely parcel arrive today. A couple of weeks ago I had a spin on the Tea Cup Carousel on the Clipper Teas website and I won a prize!

My Clipper Teas 'Tea Cup Carousel' prize. Woo!

This morning a box of five fruit infusions and a pack of green tea arrived. What a fab start to my weekend! I love Clipper tea (their everyday organic tea is my current favourite normal-cup-of-tea tea) and their packaging and ethics are wonderful too.

The sun is shining here and Ruth is running around the garden. She's still on a couple of medicines, bless her, but she's much better than she was.

Ruth pig

I hope that you have a lovely weekend.

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.