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

Baaa

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.

Sheep.

Baaa.

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

'Beach'

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.


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