Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Tied in knots

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

Ages ago I bought a load of waxed cotton with the intention of combining it with my beads to make bracelets. The cotton got put in a box under my desk and forgotten about.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

The other week when Chris and I were tidying up to prepare for him working from home, I rediscovered the box of cotton and remembered my plan and finally I have made some macramé bracelets!

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I used to make those friendship bracelet things when I was a teenager, you know the ones made out of embroidery thread and a million tiny knots, so I'm not unfamiliar with the whole knotting thing.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I wanted to keep these bracelets simple; plain beads and basic macramé knots. I wanted them to be for everyday wear, so nothing fussy.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

After a bit of faffing to work out how many beads worked best, how many knots in between them gave a balanced look, and getting the beads and the knots to sit as neatly as possible, I decided on this design as my basic macramé and lampwork bracelet.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

The bracelets fit a medium 6–6.5 inch wrist but because of the sliding macramé fastening they can be adjusted for a larger wrist, or for a looser fit.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I wore the prototype bracelet all day yesterday and it's ever so comfortable.

Handmade macramé bracelet with lampwork beads by Laura Sparling

I've written notes for potential different designs that will incorporate more beads, in more than one colour, and also ones with fewer beads – possibly slightly larger, decorated ones – so yeah, prepare for more knottiness!

Monday, 30 March 2020

CiM Testing: Candlelight

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Candlelight

As soon as I saw this glass I knew I would love it and I was right. I think that’s why I put off using it until towards the end of testing; I was saving the best for last and yep, Candlelight is probably my favourite out of all of the new CiM glasses. It's perfectly named too.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Candlelight

Candlelight is a transparent very pale yellow. It melts *perfectly* and it is just the right consistency to work with. Sometimes pale transparents can be quite stiff but this is just right. The glass has a wonderful clarity to it – no bubbles. If I get my hands on more of this I swear that it will never see the tumbler because this glass needs to shine; the way the light plays with it is magical.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Candlelight

Oh, and this is probably irrelevant but I’m saying it anyway: the way it looks when it is molten is absolutely marvellous! While hot it is the most amazing golden yellow and it’s mesmerising to see.

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

CiM Testing: Luzern

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

This cloudy transparent is called Luzern because its colour matches the logo of Crea-Arte who are located in Luzern/Lucerne in Switzerland. Crea-Arte will be the main place you can get this particular glass.

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

And what a glass it is! I love it. It's a gorgeous, rich orchid pinky-purple and judging by its original number it's a variant of CiM Heather.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

It melted with no trouble and I only wish I had more of it to play with. Beautiful glass!

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM Luzern

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: 2020.11.17 60203

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM 2020.11.17 60203

In rod form, this unnamed glass* is a very nice tanzanite blue colour but upon heating and after annealing it turns into a very intense cobalt blue. The glass is a cloudy transparent.

The glass worked fine and I had no trouble with it.

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM 2020.11.17 60203

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

* There's only a very small amount of these glasses that have a number instead of a name. Because there's only a tiny amount of each one Kathy at CiM didn't feel it was worth naming them.

CiM Testing: Rosaline Pink

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Rosaline Pink

Rosaline Pink is another cloudy transparent and it's quite similar to Morgan, although it lacks Morgan's slight subtle shimmer. Rosaline Pink does have a slight yellowness to it, though.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Rosaline Pink

This one was a tad shocky but only mildly so; the rod did that fracturing thing as opposed to the full pop-and-send-hot-bits-flying thing. Apart from that, it was fine to melt.

The bead was photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Adriatic

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Adriatic

Adriatic is the misty opal partner of Daydream.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Adriatic

Although I didn't encounter any shockiness with Adriatic, I did have a little bit of typical blue fussiness in the form of scumming, but nothing so bad that I couldn't pluck it out.

The bead was photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Fruit Punch

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Fruit Punch

Another cloudy transparent, this time in an unusual, slightly brownish, orange-red brick kind of colour called Fruit Punch.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Fruit Punch

The glass was quite stiff to work with but apart from that, which is just an observation and nothing negative, it was great to use.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Pink Lemonade

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Pink Lemonade

Pink Lemonade is another cloudy transparent. It's a soft, rose quartzy kind of pink.

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM Pink Lemonade

Its pinkness and its cloudiness puts me in mind of candyfloss.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Pink Lemonade

Another trouble-free glass with no usage issues.

Handmade lampwork glass bead earrings by Laura Sparling made with CiM Pink Lemonade

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Pink Dogwood

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Pink Dogwood

Pink Dogwood is one of the new Creation is Messy cloudy transparents. It's a pale pink glass that has a lovely haziness to it. The glass was unfussy to use with no shocking.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Pink Dogwood

Really pretty. I like this one very much.

The bead was photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Surf's Up

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Surf's Up

Surf's Up is the misty opal version of Peacock Feather and its a really lovely bright blue with a touch of green about it.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Surf's Up

The glass was really well-behaved with no shocking. I also had no 'blue fussiness' trouble with cooling and reheating and was able to do so without any troublesome scumming occurring.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Surf's Up

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Sea Glass with Dichro


This is CiM Sea Glass but with added sparkle in the form of silvery dichroic inclusions.

The glass was pretty shocky and I had to warm it very slowly and even then it popped and cracked. When I eventually got it molten enough to work with it was fine. I tried to make a second bead with the glass that was left and I got off to a good start but then I encountered a line of trapped air within the rod and it produced such huge bubbles that it was impossible to work with it any further.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Sea Glass with Dichro

In my opinion, aesthetically, this the most successful of the CiM dichroic glasses and the resulting bead glimmers prettily when it catches the light.

The bead was photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

CiM Testing: Lovebirds & Witches' Brew

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Lovebirds and Witches' Brew

I’m lumping these two together into one post because they are very similar. Both are the same yellow-green with Lovebirds (left half of the first pic) being the translucent opal and Witches’ Brew (right half of the first pic) being the misty opal.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Lovebirds

In both cases the glass is great – no fussiness, no shocking, and a good middle-of-the-road consistency. The photograph above is Lovebirds The two photos below are Witches' Brew.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Witches' Brew

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Witches' Brew

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Shamrock


Shamrock is the translucent opal version of Avonlea. It’s a rich, bright green that works nicely with no fussiness. The rod I’ve got is a bit bubbly but no overly so.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Shamrock

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Daydream

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Daydream

Daydream is the translucent opal other half of Adriatic, with Adriatic being the misty opal.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Daydream

Daydream is a rich, bright blue. It is a very well-behaved blue and it doesn’t scum or pit. No shocking either.

The bead was photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

CiM Testing: Nursery Pink

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Nursery Pink

This is a weird one. At first glance, in rod form, Nursery Pink looks almost clear. It’s got just the very slightest whiff of pink about it. I could see some sort of lines within the glass so I got my trusty macro lens and took a shot of the end of the rod (see photo below) and look! Definite pinkness.

Creation is Messy Nursery Pink

The glass is quite bubbly but it’s not at all shocky or fussy in any other way. I absolutely love a pale transparent but this is *very* pale to the point where I look at the finished beads and ask “Are they actually pink?”

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Nursery Pink

Maybe I’ve missed something? Perhaps someone else can get Nursery Pink to do some form of glass magic? Of course, it could be that I’m overthinking it (probably) and it simply is just a really really pale transparent pink.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Goddess

Handmade lamwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Goddess

Goddess is a bright blue misty opal. The glass is fine to work with and the only issue I had with it was some slight fizzy scumming. At first I thought it was devitrification but when I inspected the first bead I made with it, after annealing, I realised it was probably just a case of what I’m calling ‘Blue Fussiness’. Some blue glasses like to be kept hot (think Effetre transparent Dark Aqua 036, or CiM Leaky Pen) and they don’t appreciate the temperature fluctuations that go alongside sculpting. My constant faffing about upset the glass and it fizzed, creating patches of white scummy-looking bits.

Handmade lamwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Goddess

I had a second attempt and made a conscious decision to constantly keep the bead as warm as I could and I had a much better result, so yeah, classic Blue Fussiness. You can just see a little bit of the white microbubbling in the second photo, on the right hand side of the bead in the midsection.

The bead was photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: London Fog

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM London Fog

London Fog is the misty opal version of Unicorn. It’s more transparent and has that really beautiful opalescent colour flash thing when the sunlight hits it.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM London Fog

I encountered no shockiness, bubbling or pitting, but I found it is quite soft so don’t get working it too hot. The heart bead kept losing its shape as I was working on it but the glass stood up to repeated heating, cooling and shaping really well. Very pretty glass!

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

CiM Testing: Unicorn

Handmade lampwork glass silver core big hole charm bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Unicorn

Unicorn is a translucent opal white that plays nicely and works really well with stringer. The silver core bead here is decorated with scrolls in Effetre Periwinkle 220

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Unicorn

Unicorn is a really good base glass and it would work well for sculpting too – not too soft, nor too stiff.

The beads were photographed indoors in natural daylight.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

CiM Testing: Morgan

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Morgan

When I first saw this rod of glass I was intrigued by it. It looks like one of the other new cloudy transparents, with the coloured glass inside the clear (have a look at the the Vintage Rose glass I posted yesterday) but the rod has a very pale golden shimmer to it.

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead by Laura Sparling made with CiM Morgan

As soon as I started melting it I could see some sort of pearlescent effect happening. I’m not totally sure because I haven’t spoken to Kathy at CiM about it, so I’m just hunchy-guessing here, but I think it might be an attempt at that ‘shampoo’ glass.

EDIT: Morgan is NOT intended to be a slightly shimmery shampoo style glass; it was just a happy accident that occurred while trying to make another colour. Glass: it never stops weirding us out!

Handmade lampwork glass heart bead pendant by Laura Sparling made with CiM Morgan

Morgan is clear teamed with a very pretty pale pink and I think the yellowy pearly tinge you can see is perhaps pale gold mica powder? Maybe? (Like I say, I’m totally Sherlocking here.)

Whatever Morgan is, I like it. The pearly effect is subtle but it’s definitely there and when you move the bead the light catches it in a beautiful glimmery way.

No shockiness, but there are a few tiny bubbles – nothing too obtrusive, though.

The bead was photographed indoors in natural daylight.