Thursday 25 May 2017

My beads

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

I've always said that I don't have a 'signature bead' but many people have pointed out that I do. They normally say something like "Your scroll beads are your signature beads" or "I can spot your polka dot beads a mile off" so maybe I actually have a signature style as opposed to a bead? Scrolls and polka dots aren't fancy or wow or how-did-you-even-do-that? but they require a steady hand, oodles of patience, careful heat control, precision and a good knowledge of what each glass type and colour does and how you can make that work for you to get the results you're after.

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

I often feel like I should be making more elaborate beads—big, showstopping, takes-an-age-to-make beads that contain a bazillion elements and techniques—but I just like the simple look of my dots and lines and I enjoy making them. That last point is very important to me. I enjoy getting lost in the rhythmic placement of polka dots and I get a buzz from completing a bead that's covered in curvy, loopy scrolls. I'll often do an out-loud "Yes!" as I put a finished one in the kiln. And I know that they look simple, but finishing a well-executed spiral bead—the ones with the continuous trail of fine stringer wrapped from hole to hole—always makes me smile.

For me, beads are as much about the beauty of the glass as they are about the prettiness of the design. I like my beads to show off the glass itself; how it plays with the light, and how certain colours look together. For me, the negative space is as important as any decorated parts.

Lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

Now my beadmaking time is limited due to my studies, I'm making sure I thoroughly enjoy my shed sessions. Yesterday I got absolutely lost in making navy and white polka dot beads while listening to Steve Coogan's autobiography. The day just flew by and I walked out of the shed feeling all relaxed and happy. In the past I've often felt bad about making "just some polka dot beads and a few spotty ones" or "just a few scrolly beads today", like I should have created some massive focal with silver glass, gold leaf, silver foil, goldstone, enamels, and maybe some CZs and fancy cane, all finished off with a touch of sandblasting instead, but I've decided to not think that way anymore. This probably won't make sense but it does in my head... my beads are my beads because they are my beads. And that's fine by me.


  1. I think you have nailed it Laura when you talk about what bead making means to you. You definitely have a signature style with your scrolls and dots and I can recognise your beads without having to see any comment about who did them. As for why you create, I agree it is definitely about the glass and not always about the techniques used - in saying that, I always wandered as a child how they got the little ribbons inside marbles. And I admit to destroying a fair few to find out. If only lampworking was common back then......

    1. Thank you, Bobbie. I really appreciate your comments. X

  2. Laura, if I could do scrolls like yours I would never do anything else! The dots are fabulous too but it's the scrollwork that I really envy ��

  3. I want to echo Bobbie in saying that you've hit the nail right on the head. We crafty types ultimately do this for the love and joy of it, and then often torture ourselves with the "but I should be doing"s. As far as I'm concerned, if we don't feel the joy of what we're doing, how on earth do we expect anyone else to? The simple beauty of your spots and scrolls are always a joy to behold, Laura, so you keep doing you. XXX


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