Monday 29 February 2016

Dipped in sugar

Frosty clover leaf, taken with an iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

It's a beautiful crisp morning here. I took a few photos on my way down to the shed to switch the kiln and heater on. The photography involved grovelling around on the cold, wet grass but it was worth it for these pretty images.

Frosty weed, taken with an iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
This leafy weed thing looks like it's been dipped in sugar

Water droplet, taken with an iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
Little tiny water droplet on a fine blade of grass

Frosty grass, taken with an iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
Icy, glittery blade of grass

These photographs were all taken with my iPhone 6s with my Olloclip macro lenses. You can see more of my iPhone photographs on my iPhoneography Tumblr.

Sunday 28 February 2016

Doing something with the day

'Way Out' signage on the London Underground

Every Saturday, Chris and I end up doing the same old thing. We lounge around in our dressing gowns until about eleven o'clock, drinking tea and doing computer stuff, and then we get dressed and head into town to do essential shopping bits. We grab lunch and then come home where we drink more tea, make dinner, eat dinner, watch Saturday night telly and then fall asleep on the sofa.

Well, not yesterday! We decided that we should actually do something on a Saturday for once. So we lounged about in our dressing gowns and drank tea and did computer stuff until about ten o'clock instead, and then we went to the London Transport Museum. I've got a thing about the London Underground, you see. I think it stems from all that commuting to see Chris I did every other weekend for three and a half years.

King's Cross St. Pancras roundel
If I had a quid for every time I've been through this station, I'd have... at least two hundred quid

When I'm using the tube, going up and down all the escalators and stairs, walking along the platforms, looking at all the beautiful tiles that each station has, using the tube map, and just being in those tunnels, my mind always wanders to the history of it and how it was built. I've read books and watched many documentaries about it and it always blows my mind. If you have a spare forty minutes, I highly recommend watching 'How They Dug the Victoria Line' which is currently available on BBC iPlayer. It's a 1969 documentary and it's flipping marvellous.

It's not just the physical thing that is the Underground that I love, it's the design aspect of it too; the iconic roundel, the Johnston typeface and the signage. Yes, London dwellers, I'm one of those annoying people who take photos of boring stuff on the Underground. (But I try and do it in the least disruptive way possible. I'm not a fool who stands on the left hand side of escalators, I never wheel a wheely case anywhere on the system, and I always stand back and let people off the train before I get on. I respect the Underground with every fibre of my being.)

Poster at the London Transport Museum
Simple instructions that make so much sense

The London Transport Museum is housed inside what used to be the old Flower Market building in Covent Garden and the building itself is really beautiful.

Inside the London Transport Museum
Inside the London Transport Museum, looking down on the buses, trams and trolley cars

The museum isn't all about trains. The first part of it covers boats and horse-drawn transport such as omnibuses. You can actually sit inside one of them, although you end up sitting with a couple of those freakish museum mannequins. (You know the ones. They have very matt, slightly grainy faces, very bristly hair, they often have overly-shiny fingernail bits, and they look like they smell of damp straw and musty lofts and old airing cupboards. Where do they get those mannequins from? Someone somewhere makes those.)

I do love a bit of proper old lettering. Traditional signwriting is such an insanely impressive skill and if I could travel back in time it's one of the things I'd love to have a go at. A lot of the road vehicles in the museum have beautiful hand-painted lettering.

Hand-painted lettering on an old omnibus at the London Transport Museum

Hand-painted lettering on an old omnibus at the London Transport Museum

Hand-painted lettering on an old omnibus at the London Transport Museum

And then there was the lettering on the Metropolitan Railway locomotive number 23:

Metropolitan Railway locomotive number 23 at the London Transport Museum

This steam train is one of only two that survive from the original one hundred and sixteen that were made for the Metropolitan Railway, which was the world's first underground railway system. (If I had a photo of the actual train I would post it, but we were stood next to a family with a gaggle of really noisy, out-of-control kids and, to be frank, I didn't want them in my photo, so I'll have to go back and take a picture another time.)

You can sit in one of number 23's carriages which I found to be a right old thrill. It feels so olden days, and it smells of olden days too, in a good way.

Metropolitan Railway carriage at London Transport Museum

I sat in there for a couple of minutes trying to picture what it would be like to be in the carriage inside an underground tunnel. The thought of steam trains in the underground system is quite terrifying really. It made me laugh to read that when the Metropolitan Railway opened, smoking on it was forbidden.

There was also a carriage from a more modern tube train. I think it might be Q-Stock, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Old underground train carriage

There are posters all around the museum and right now they have an exhibition called Night Shift - London After Dark which is full of posters, photos and films about night shift workers, people using the tube to travel to theatres and cinemas, and how the tube tunnels were used as wartime shelters. I really liked this old poster that shows who uses the tube and at what time.

Poster from the London Transport Museum 'Night Shift - London After Dark' exhibition
"Not all Patrons are punctual"

I should have taken more photographs and I'm annoyed that I didn't but I think that's a good indicator of how much I enjoyed the museum; I was so busy reading stuff and looking at things I forgot to snap them with my iPhone. An entry ticket to the London Transport Museum (which is currently £17.00 for an adult and younglings go free) gives you access for a year so I'm fully intending to go back on a week day. I have nothing against children but there were a lot of them at the museum yesterday. I wanted to have a go at the driving a tube train simulation thing but I didn't get chance because the kids were all over it, and who can blame them? So I'd like to return on a quieter day to take more photos and catch up on the bits I missed, like the Crossrail section. I'd also like to go to the Museum Depot in Acton.

An added London bonus: Chris and I popped in to see my littlest sister at the restaurant she manages in Covent Garden. It was lovely to see her.

So yes, hurrah for getting off your arse on a Saturday and actually doing something with the day. Nobody said anything about Sundays, though, which would explain why at midday I'm still in my dressing gown, drinking tea and doing computer stuff. I'd better go and get dressed and do something with the day.

Have a great Sunday.

Saturday 27 February 2016

New things to show you

Lampwork glass 'I am Groot' necklace by Laura Sparling

Good morning! I've been up since six o'clock attending to bead business. This bead business should have been attended to last night but I got all behind because we had to take a trip to Tesco for some guinea pig food as the food I'd bought for Ruth earlier in the day contained peanuts and sunflower seeds. You can't give peanuts and sunflower seeds to a guinea pig! So yes, we ventured out to Big Tesco because we know how to party on a Friday night. I went wild and got salted caramel and vanilla custard Muller Rice whilst I was there. PARTY! Oh, and Ruth got her proper guinea pig food.

Anyway, the Tesco trip meant I only had time to make one necklace last night and that was the 'I am Groot' one above. I have a little dancing baby Groot on my workbench in my shed and the new CiM Toto glass is the exact same colour as him so I just had to have a go at making a Groot bead. (If you have no idea who Groot is, he's from Guardians of the Galaxy.) The necklace sold last night and I can't make any more until I can get hold of more Toto glass.

The getting-up-early-today thing was so I could turn these beads...

Lampwork glass beads made in Creation is Messy Ecru, Allspice and Toto

... into this bracelet:

Lampwork glass and copper 'Irish Coffee' Garland bracelet by Laura Sparling

This one is called 'Irish Coffee' and it's in my shop. Again, there's only one right now as the beads are made with brand new glass that isn't yet available to buy.

Have a super duper Saturday!

CiM Testing: 'Ecru' and 'Toto'

Lampwork flower beads made in Creation is Messy 'Ecru'

I've just written up a couple more Creation is Messy testing posts over on my Tumblr. These are for 'Ecru' which is an off-white opal, and an opaque light brown called 'Toto'.

Friday 26 February 2016

CiM Testing: 'Allspice'

Creation is Messy 'Allspice' flower beads

I've just written up my test findings for the first of the new bundle of Creation is Messy glasses. This one is 'Allspice' and it's a lovely opal brown.

To read what I thought about Allspice, please click here and you'll be magically transported to my Tumblr.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Thanks, Mister Postman

Twinings tea and Creation is Messy delivery

Well, it turned out to be a non-stringer day but that's only because I received a surprise bundle of new Creation is Messy glass colours for testing in the post. It turned up with a Twinings tea delivery so today was an excellent post day! This afternoon I drank caramel velvet redbush (very yum) and salted caramel hot chocolate (oh my) whilst I tried out a couple of the new CiM colours. Good times!

Nothing particularly fancy

Lampwork glass heart charm bracelet by Laura Sparling

Sometimes I'm not in the mood or the right frame of mind to make complex beads with fancy layers and stringer and dots and stuff. Sometimes I end up making simple beads that just show off the prettiness of the glass. Yesterday was a beadmaking day like that. I fully intended to make beads with stringerwork on them and I sat and pulled quite a lot of black stringer and set to work, but my hands and brain were having some kind of communication problem. Instead of stropping out of the shed, stomping back up to the house and throwing myself onto the sofa in a mood to watch Countdown and that awful game show based on the pushy-pushy coin machines in amusement arcades, I pushed my heap of black stringer aside and made some simple hearts and spacers.

Late last night I turned some of the beads into the bracelet pictured above. The findings are silver plated because I haven't got enough sterling silver bits and bobs in stock. I took that photo early this morning and it was proper chilly out there. Got a right icy blast up my dressing gown, I did. I'm just about to photograph the bracelet properly (inside, in the warm) and it'll be for sale later today.

Lampwork glass heart bead and spacers by Laura Sparling

I had one larger heart bead and half a dozen spacers left over and those are in my shop now. They're made in CiM Aegean which is one of my most favourite glass colours in the world.

Maybe today will be a stringer day. Only one way to find out...

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Hello, stranger!

'Apple Blossom' Garland Bracelet by Laura Sparling

Alright? I've not seen you for a while.

What's that? Why am I here?

To be honest, I have no idea. I woke up this morning and I just thought, "I really miss my blog" and so I came downstairs, made a cup of tea, revved up my laptop and faffed with a few bloggy techno-things and here I am.

I've not got anything in particular to write about. I've not got any interesting news to impart. Something just made me want to write a blog post.

Apparently it's almost a year since I last blogged. I've been posting my beads on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest. Those platforms are all fab but maybe I'm missing the waffle-ability of my blog. Sure, I can go on and on over on my Facebook page (and I occasionally do) but sometimes I feel like I have to stop myself. Here seems a more fitting place for rambling on about not-always-beady stuff - you know, the "I went here"s and the "I cooked a thing"s and the "I knitted this"s. Here is a good place to talk about all that. It feels more comfy.

So I'm hoping to get back into the old bloggery. Obviously all the other social media shenanigans will continue too. (It's a right old balancing act, this social networking lark.)

At the top of this post is a bracelet I made recently. It's up there for no other reason than I like my blog posts to have a photo. It's also flowery and a bit spring-like. It's a lovely sunny day here in Cambridge and it feels a bit springy so the photo is appropriate, I think. If you do like the bracelet, it's in my shop, along with some in other colours.

I'm doing it. I'm waffling.

Time to go and melt some glass. Less chat, more beads.

Sorry for leaving it so long. Forgive me?