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Well, I think it's safe to say that this here blog is neglected.

Thing is, life is so fast and hectic (and I mean everybody's in general) that finding the time to write and read blogs is a bit tricky. I'm not writing the blog off totally. I expect I will blog from time to time but it won't be a regular occurrence.

If you'd like to make sure you keep up to date with all things Beads By Laura then your best bet is to look at my Facebook page. You don't need a Facebook account to view it and you'll find that there's a lot more happening over there than there is here.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Cat Burglar

Buster the cat burglarI love it when cats are mischievous. Fellow cat owners will know what I mean. They get extra-alert, their ears and whiskers go all pointy and they get an artful glint in their eyes.

I was just sat here working on my sock knitting and Buster decided that he was going to pilfer some of his cat sweets that I bought him at the weekend. He's a very fussy animal. I have to go to a particular pet shop to get the cat treats that he likes. I tried him on some low fat ones the other week but it's almost as if he knew that they were diet ones and he refused to eat them. Can't say I blame him. I'm the same with any kind of diet or low fat food!

I grabbed my iPhone and quickly snapped Buster mid-thievery. Cat burglar in action!

Monday, 29 March 2010

'Springtime'

Lampwork Glass BeadsFresh pinks and greens in an array of designs. Springtime prettiness!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Just checking in

A very quiet Bournemouth beachHello people! I am about - I've just had a bit of a busy weekend. On Friday Dad and I went down to Bournemouth to see my sister Emily. It wasn't raining but the beach was totally deserted as you can tell from the photo above. Yesterday I was teaching and today I've been decorating the bathroom and its walls have gone from a drab pale grey to a pretty powder blue. I've just got the gloss bits to do but that can wait until tomorrow evening. I'm all painted out for today!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

It's the final cupcakes!

Lampwork Glass Cupcake BeadsAnd yes, I am singing that post title to the tune of Europe's The Final Countdown. I bet you'll have that in your head all day now .....

But yes, that's it! I have finished my glass cake-making! Woohoo!

As you can tell by my plentiful exclamation marks I am quite pleased about this fact. This little lot are going out in today's post and now I can get back to making normal beads.

I'll say it before and now I'll say it again - thank you very much to everyone who purchased my Cupcake beads and made them such a success.

The kiln is up to temperature so I'm off to grab a cup of tea and then I shall settle down at my workbench and see what beads want to be made today .....

Friday, 19 March 2010

Looking Back

Me and my Hot Head, HoraceI've taught a lot of people to make beads and every time I do I can always remember how tricky it was when I started out. I am totally self taught and have never had a beadmaking lesson. That's me in the photo above making beads on Horace, my beloved Hot Head torch. Everything I know I have learned from books, experience and by making mistakes. I was two years into my beadmaking before I ever saw another lampworker making beads in real life.

Maybe if I had taken a lesson or two I would have progressed quicker. But then again if I hadn't made mistakes and then had to find a way to correct them then I honestly don't think I'd have the understanding of glass that I do today.

I've decided to be very brave and I'm now going to show you some old beads so you can see how they, and my photography, have improved over time. This is pretty difficult for me (as you know what a perfectionist I am) but I want you to see how far I've come in six years. I also want to prove that I am not lying to the students and people that I tell 'It's just practice- you'll get there if you stick at it!' but I tell you, when I was delving into the Beads By Laura archive I was laughing, cringing and generally squirming in my seat at my beads-gone-by.

So without further ado I give you some of the beads from my first few beadmaking sessions. The little light blue one on the left was my first attempt :

My first few lampwork beadsAnd now we move on to my first 'set' of beads. I was so proud of these at the time but now I hang my head in shame. The colours! The bumps! The dot placement! They were the first set I ever sold (on eBay) and they reached the massive sum of £4.50. I remember being so pleased - pleased that I had made an actual set and pleased that someone wanted to buy them.

The first set of beads I sold - agh!After that I was fired up with enthusiasm and I regularly sold beads on eBay. Beads like these Spiderman-inspired ones :

Terrible red, white and blue beadsIt's okay - you can laugh. I am. I'd been to see the movie and I just had to use Spidey's colours. I can't believe anyone bought these, I mean, look at them! But then again, back when I sold these there were only about six other UK people selling handmade lampwork beads on eBay. People seemed to like my work and I carried on selling via eBay. Here are four more of my early bead sets - just look at that 'stringer'! :

Some early bead setsI wouldn't sell beads on eBay now but I was so thankful for it back then - it drove traffic to my own website and I started to build up a customer base, some of which still buy from me to this day.

As you can see from the photos my early beads were very basic. Dots and splodges on plain glass. It wasn't until I taught myself how to do stringerwork that my beads stepped up to the next level and I can still recall what set it was I was making when the stringer lightbulb went on and I had that fabulous 'A-ha!' moment. It was these - my 'Stratford' beads. I think they fetched about £30 on eBay and I was so elated you wouldn't believe it! :

My strinmger 'A-ha!' moment beadsNot exactly up to today's standard, are they? But as I said, being able to work with stringer opened up a whole new load of bead doors for me and I really got into my stride making sets like these 'Aztec' and 'Ranocchio' ones :

Beads with lots of dots and lines
More beads with lots of dots and linesMost of my beads were bumpy back then. Take this 'Neptune' focal for example :

Sparkly focal beadBy teaching myself basic encasing I stepped my lampwork up another notch and started creating beads that are pretty similar to what I make today. These ones have the grand-sounding title of 'Intergalactic Episode II' so I'm guessing I'd watched one of the Star Wars prequels prior to making these :

Lampwork beads with many raised dotsSo there you have it - a little voyage through the Laurabead archives. As I say - I hope it's given you a laugh and also I hope that it shows all you new beadmakers out there just what practice, endless hours of torch-time, persistence and patience can bring.

I still can't believe those 'Spiderman' beads, though ..... *cringe!*

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Just some beads .....

Lampwork Glass Heart Bead Trio'Earthy' Heart Trio


Lampwork Glass Beads'Berry'


Lampwork Glass Beads'Purple Spots'

I've not got much to say except that I am all beaded out for today. Lots of beads made, cleaned, photographed and sold. Big huge thanks to everyone who bought (and tried to buy) tonight's glassy offerings. You're all fab!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Crocuses

CrocusesI just had to do a bit of Googling to find out what the plural of crocus is. Apparently it can be crocus, crocuses or croci. The latter sounds like some sort of mathematical term to me .....

Anyway, I was walking to the postbox earlier to post some beads and I saw the most gorgeous crowd of crocuses on a grass bank. The actual real life colour of them is the same as CiM Crocus (when you're a beadmaker you tend to convert all colours to glass colours) and lo and behold, when I photographed the crocuses on my iPhone the picture showed the flowers as more blue than they actually are which is exactly what happens when you photograph CiM Crocus beads!

So the beautiful blooms in the picture at the top of this post should in actual fact be closer in colour to this :

Creation Is Messy 'Crocus'See what I mean about the blueness? If I get a moment tomorrow I may go back and photograph the crocuses with my proper camera because I would really love to create a set of beads based upon their fabulous colours.

'Scrolls'

Lampwork Glass BeadsThe beautiful rich brown in these beads is CiM Mink and the scrolls and spacers are done in CiM Smurfy. I reckon these two colours look fab together and I really like the slightly wiggly reaction line that runs through the centre of the stringerwork.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

'Sky'

Lampwork Glass Bead SetAnother set of some-etched-some-not beads, this time in pale aquamarine.

Laura Random Giveaway

*** THESE RANDOM GIVEAWAY EARRINGS HAVE BEEN CLAIMED ***

And the winner of them is Kathryn from Banffshire, Scotland.

Keep your eyes open for more Random Giveaways in the future .....

Note : For all of the details regarding my Laura Random Giveaways please click here.

Monday, 15 March 2010

'Blush'

Lampwork Glass BeadsLike the 'Champagne' beads from the previous post but in a gorgeous dusky pink.

'Champagne'

Lampwork Glass BeadsSuch a pretty colour, these. An assortment of beads, some of which are in their natural glossy state and some that are etched to a soft velvety finish.

These will be for sale over on my website at 8.30pm (UK time) tonight.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Making Mandrels

Me making mandrelsIt got to the point this morning where I was down to about ten mandrels. After each bead-cleaning session I clean and dry the mandrels and throw away any bent ones and eventually they dwindle away and then it's time to make some more.

MandrelsI haven't bought ready-made mandrels for at least four years. Instead I cut up stainless steel welding rods which saves so much money you wouldn't believe it. I have a five kilo tube of ESAB 1.6mm rods and one of 2.4mm rods. I mainly use the 1.6mm ones for my beadmaking. One tube of welding rods goes a long way. You can get four mandrels out of one rod. As I say, I've had these tubes of rods for over four years and I'm only two thirds of the way through the smaller ones.

You don't have to buy a five kilo tube - some places sell the rods by the kilo or less. It may be worth going into your local welding supplies place and asking them about buying some. You will save so much money in the long run. Here are the labels off my rod tubes - print the picture out and take it along with you :

ESAB stainless steel welding rodsPlease click here for a list of ESAB dealers and maybe you can find one near you.

I have a pair of cutters (the make is Facom) that cut the 1.6mm rods quite happily. They do cut the 2.4mm ones too but you need a bit more grunt - I use two hands. Or if I'm feeling particlualry feeble I get Dad to cut them for me!

Sandpaper and cuttersAfter I've cut up my welding rods into mandrel-sized lengths I sand the ends of them on some heavy-duty sandpaper to take off any sharp bits and then I'm left with a bunch of shiny new mandrels!

'Apple Glimmer' Nuggets

Lampwork Glass Nugget BeadsI was going to re-photograph these in sunlight today but alas, the day is grey and nothingy.

These nuggets are a fresh yellow green and because the glass I used was silver rich they have a kind of ethereal misty feeling to them. The sunlight photos would have shown this off a bit better but that's not to be.

I also added some droplets of fine silver and then encased the whole lot in crystal clear glass for depth and sparkle.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

'Iced Coffee'

Etched Lampwork Glass BeadsI'm sure I've named some beads 'Iced Coffee' before but the name suits these too so I just went with it. These beads have an opaque core encased in a transparent light brown and I've etched them to a soft velvety finish. They're decorated with lavender spots. Chic!

These beads will be for sale over on my website at 8.30pm (UK time) tonight.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

'Crystal'

Lampwork Glass BeadsAfter a couple of days of intensive Cupcake beadmaking I unwound by making these simple clear beads. You can't get much more un-complex than some spacers and a couple of hearts but sometimes unfussy, plain beads are good. Good to make, good to look at and good to create jewellery with.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Laura Random Giveaway

Lampwork Glass Cupcake Bead Set*** THESE RANDOM GIVEAWAY BEADS HAVE BEEN CLAIMED ***

And the winner of them is Beth from Indiana, USA.

Keep your eyes open for more Random Giveaways in the future .....

Note : For all of the details regarding my Laura Random Giveaways please click here.

'Blackcurrant Jam'

Lampwork Glass BeadsI tried and tried to capture the richness of the colour of these beads and I think I've finally got there. It only took about ninety six million attempts - thank goodness for digital cameras! These 'Blackcurrant Jam' beads are very shiny which I think may have something to do with the base glass. These are CiM Grape Ape with Effetre Rubino.

These ones sold last night but I was just determined to get a good photo of them this morning before they go off to their new home and I thought I'd post it here so that my lovely blog readers could have a look.

Monday, 1 March 2010

'Olive Glimmer'

Lampwork Glass BeadsThese green glass gems are made with CiM Olive with a touch of silvered ivory and some fine silver. Definite less-is-more beads.

Spoilt Rotten Beads

Sterling Silver HeadpinsOver the past year I have spent lots and lots of money on sterling silver findings at one particular online shop. However, when I urgently needed one packet of headpins last week they refused to send them Special Delivery even though I was offering to pay extra. Nice.

I thought 'Pants to you, then!' and I went off on a Google-a-thon to find somewhere else that could help me with my silver emergency.

I eventually stumbled upon Spoilt Rotten Beads and they had exactly what I was after along with a next day delivery service. Perfect! I placed my order and the following day it arrived.

Now, sterling silver Cupcake bead findings aside, I don't buy many beads. I purchase the occasional few Swarovskis here or the odd clasp or earring wires there but I know that in future Spoilt Rotten Beads will be my first port of call. Plus, they have a shop in Ely which will only be a short journey away when I move to Cambridge. Bonus!

So if you're a jewellery maker and you haven't heard of Spoilt Rotten Beads do pay them a visit. They have a huge selection of findings, beads, stringing materials and tools and they also offer jewellery making classes, workshops and parties too.
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