Sunday, 22 November 2009

Tardis bead needs a new name

Gosh, we were lucky in Cambridge yesterday. The forecast predicted dire weather from lunchtime onwards but it's too close to Christmas for me to stay away and I had customers planning to stop by to pick up things ordered via e-mail, so I really needed to be at my stall. My rule of thumb is that if I can get a good half day's trade in then I'm happy to be there.

As it got closer to lunchtime, the weather actually started to brighten up from the grey claggy cloud we'd had in the morning and by mid-afternoon, we even had some glimmers of sunshine! It didn't last all day though, we packed up in the dark at around 4.30 in some yukky drizzle but we counted ourselves extremely fortunate to have had a good day's trading.

I had loads of new items to show off having been away last week. The jewellery I made with the cava beads attracted lots of interest, I sold a bracelet to a lady who zoned right in on it; it was the first thing she picked up - she was amazed when I told her what the beads were made off as it's her favourite drink. The guy with her insisted she buy it (what a sweetheart!) :-) A couple of pairs of earrings also sold (Sorry no photos, I didn't get time to do any this week).

Unnamed handmade lampwork beads The new tardis beads were another good talking point! DH didn't feel that the name was very conducive to jewellery sales and so we were trying to think of a new one; we enlisted the help of anyone who picked the tardis bead jewellery up (two pairs of earrings and a bracelet - no photos again).

One young lady came up with "dalek beads", which I totally get and isn't it a coincidence that she used a Dr Who theme even without us telling her their provisional name?

Another person said "blister beads" which we didn't think would help at all! :-) By this time, both a pair of earrings and the bracelet had been sold. The last pair of tardis bead earrings sold to a lovely lady whose husband came up with the unfortunate name of "pustule beads" ... ahem, I think I'll be sticking with "tardis beads" when I make some more of these next week ... unless any of my blog readers can come up with anything better!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Lovely start

What a lovely start to the day! :-) I checked my e-mails and there was a thank you message along with some beautiful photographs from a bride for whom I made matching his and hers hammer finish sterling silver rings in the summer. I'll be adding the message to my testimonials page next time I update the website.

Congratulations Jancy and Simon and thanks for the photographs of the wedding - looks like you had a brilliant day! You'll forgive me for not publishing them all here but I couldn't resist showing off your rings. What a picturesque place for your honeymoon.

Have a long a happy life together. :-)

I just know I'm going to be in a happy, smiley mood now for the rest of the day despite the awful weather and dreadful forecast for tomorrow. Because I missed last week, it feels like ages since I've seen my customers and I've got lots of new things to show off!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Hats off to the new tardis bead

The hagstone bead was inspired by my holiday in Bamburgh, Nortumbria in the Spring and the jewellery made with them has been popular but I've become a tad tired of them so I tried various things to glam them up for Christmas-time and this is the result of their makeover: Handmade lampwork bead with tardis bumpy bumpsIt's the usual mixture of two colours of grey with sis stringer dotted and then gravity swirled as a base. I changed the shape to a cylinder and then added dots of raku which I heated and cooled a few times, topped with blobs of clear glass, there's quite a variety of colours trapped behind the clear glass. I've called them tardis beads as they remind me of the interior of the tardis (great Dr Who special on Sunday wasn't it?!)

My new crochet hatAnd here is my new hat, it's based on a pattern of hat that was made for fellow beadmaker Laura, by her fella, Chris's mum. (Thanks for sending the link, Laura!) I've used different yarn as I couldn't find any Coats on-line in the UK. I used Sirdar Crofter instead bought from Sew Creative on King Street in Cambridge. I've also changed it so it's got a turn up as I like 'em and it comes down right over my ears - I get very grumpy when they get cold on my stall!

I'm also doing a matching scarf which is almost finished; I might have enough wool to do some mittens as well - we'll see. Now I'm ready for when the colder weather arrives. It's a bit mild for hat wearing at the moment. I remember last year pinning my poppy onto my "big" coat a few days into the start of November; this year, it went on my slightly padded showerproof jacket and didn't shift.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Website products updated

Streaky blue lentil braceletBlack and white stripes double earringsAmber Nugget Necklace

Here is a small selection of the new jewellery items I've been making since I last updated the website. In all I have added 13 new ones, the majority are on the Lampwork > Lampwork Jewellery page, but there is also one new Red Mist bracelet being sold with the half the proceeds (when it is sold) to be donated to the Orangutan Foundation on the Lampwork > Red Mist charity page.

I have made more jewellery than that shown on the website but some of the photographs were taken in particularly poor conditions and will need redoing. As always, the way to see absolutely everything I have for sale is to come to my stall on the Art & Craft Market in Cambridge (but I'm not there today).

Have received text messages from my sister of Arcturus Jewellery, who has gone to the market today - she says it is raining there now as well as being very windy - I am so glad I am here instead ... eating shortbread and drinking tea!! (Sorry Sharon!)

Cava bottle beads

I am not at my stall today, with the forecast being for the weather to be so wild and windy, from experience, I just know it's always really difficult to cope with on an outdoor market. For anyone who does venture into Cambridge to see my stall, I apologise for not being there. I think this is only the second time this year I have missed a Saturday due to the weather.

So, I have a "free" day, time to make good on my promise to update my website with new jewellery and I am going to get on with it any minute now ... can you tell I'm putting it off?! Anyway, in the meantime, here are some photographs of the glass beads I made by recycling the Cava bottle I photographed early in the week.Handmade lampwork beads made from recycled Cava bottleAs you may be able to tell from the photograph, the glass is in fact a very dark brown rather than black, the top edges of the beads reveal this where the light shines through most. When I was making the beads, I was a bit worried they were just going to look the same as the beer bottle beads that I make but these are quite a bit darker than those.Handmade lampwork etched beads made from recycled Cava bottleAnd when they're etched (as the bottle is), as you can see, they transform into these lovely velvety black beads.

I made quite a few more beads than I have photographed. As this is a new type of recycled glass to me, it's difficult to know what the COE of the glass is precisely and therefore ascertain the correct temperature to ensure the beads are properly annealed. The beads will have to pass several of my own personal quality control tests for durability before I turn them into jewellery for sale to all my lovely customers. I'll keep you posted!

Shadow of jewelleryI leave you for now with a photograph that I took last weekend when the weather was much nicer - I noticed this shadow made by the sun shining through my jewellery.

Whatever you're up to this weekend, have a lovely time and I hope the weather doesn't disrupt it too much.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Happy New Year!

I know I'm a bit early (or very late, depending on your point of view) but I have made a new year's resolution already/at last!

Prettily coloured handmade transparent lampwork glass beadI made this bead about a year ago but can I repeat it??? NO (wail!) It's such a pretty colour. It was a disc of a transparent Effetre and then I twirled the edge in one of three frits that I was playing about (either Double Helix Aion, Beadysam's Iris Gold or Tuffnell Glass's Iris Gold) and then melted it round.

In the past few months, I have made a bead with every transparent colour in my collection with all three frit colours. In the past week, I have made a concerted effort, all I can remember is that I was very surprised when the bead turned this colour as from the base it seemed most unlikely.

In the face of my failure to repeat it, my new year's resolution is to write down what went with what when I'm experimenting. This bead has become a kind of quest, a nirvana, an ineffible unattainable ultimate colour.

I know I promised yesterday that I would update my website with new photographs ... tomorrow, I promise!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Melted orange blossom bracelet

Here is the bracelet that I made with the encased beads that I photographed last week. It's got a mixture of two shapes of amber beads, two shapes of moonstone, three colours of 8mm swarovski crystal bicones and some swarovski pearls in the mix. Each bead has been triple wrapped with sterling silver wire onto the links inbetween the lampwork beads and so there was a lot of work involved, reflected in the price of £75.
Handmade bracelet with lampwork glass beads, amber, moonstone and swarovski crystalI've been very tardy in updating my website with new jewellery, I assure you there has been quite a bit made but it's the time of year when I'm making stock like mad in readiness for the Christmas rush. When December comes, I can't make enough to keep my stall full so I like to try to get ahead of myself. In the Autumn, there will always therefore be more jewellery on my stall than on the website.

However, in the last couple of days, I have been unpacking the boxes and photographing some of the newer items and am planning on having a website updating session this afternoon (possibly the last of the year) but for the time being, I'm off out into the studio to make beads. My commute to work is such a trial .... a very short walk down the garden with cuppa in hand to my shed! :-)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Cava bottle for recycling

Empty bottle of black glass which used to contain Spanish CavaLook at this bottle ... black glass for recycling into beads. The last time I drank Spanish Cava was on holiday in Barcelona many years ago. I haven't been abroad for a long long time. It was in a bar behind the Picasso museum. There was a huge queue to get in and we didn't fancy waiting so we dived into the bar intending to see if the queue had died down in a couple of hours ... we never actually made it to the museum that day!

I wasn't even making lampwork beads in those days so I didn't think twice about the black glass of the bottle at the time but when I saw this on the virtual shelves at Sainbury's whilst doing my on-line shopping last week, I suddenly remembered that lovely holiday and couldn't resist ordering a bottle.

We drank the Cava with Sunday lunch yesterday - I am soaking the label off as I type. The bottle needs to be rinsed and thoroughly dried before I can melt it into beads so it will be tomorrow that I make the beads. DH has told me not to buy any more; it's only 12% proof but it's loopy juice! Maybe it's because it's fizzy, anyway, as I am always telling customers who come to my stall on a Saturday - one has to suffer for one's art!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Postage revision

As Royal Mail staff have suspended their industrial action until after Christmas, I am pleased to let you know that postage rates on my shopping cart have been revised downwards to their usual levels: a package to the UK is £1.50 for up to £24.99 and £3.00 for anything over £25.00.

International posting will also be resumed immediately.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


I've been practising a new way of encasing. Encasing beads is really tricky to learn. Beginners find it maddeningly difficult. I've only been making beads in earnest for about two years and I remember well how long it took me to learn and how many beads ended up a horrible mess. The only method I could get to work was as described in Kimberley Adams book which starts with a lollipop of clear glass. Actually, it could be any colour of glass but usually clear or a light transparent colour works best. I've tended to stick to that method as it works for me, although I do sometimes get a small number of tiny bubbles trapped in the encasing.

My favourite beadmaker, Laura Sparling, has been making some wonderful tuturials in PDF format and she's even had a got a moving and talking version of one of them so I thought I'd go back in time and have a go at learning a different encasing method - you never know, it might be better! I couldn't make this work from the descriptions in the books I had at the time - if only these had been available then!

Encased transparent frit lampwork beadsHere's what I have come up with, no trapped bubbles! These orange beads are quite simple, just clear glass some transparent frit and then encased in Effetre pink (which I always think looks more like a pale beige than pink ...) and the result is that the frit is magnified and looks like it's just floating around inside the bead. I have them on my table teamed up with some other lovely things which just look great with them. These are going to be made into a very special bracelet tomorrow!

Encased transparent frit lampwork beadsThese are Vetrofond black with raku frit rolled, heated and cooled a few times to bring out the colour and then heavily encased with Vetrofond clear. The photography conditions haven't been too great, it was grey and overcast and so the glass looks grey too, but hopefully you get the idea. These beads are already a pair of earrings which you'll be able to buy from my stall in Cambridge on Saturday!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

This man needs a shave!

One of my sisters, Sandy, and her long time partner, Chris recently told me about one of their friends and his son who are doing a bike ride across Vietnam in aid of Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit children’s ward. Sandy and Chris's friend's son had an accident when he was 15, the specialists thought he might not walk again but the unit got him walking again and this is their thank you.

Chris and Sandy at Brave launchSandy's partner, Chris, has said that if his Twitter and on-line contacts' contributions amount to £500, then he will shave his beard off ... we are all extremely keen for this to happen so if anyone wants to help it on its way off and donate to a great cause as well, all the details are here.

By the way, Chris is the one on the left in the picture ...! ;-)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Some new beads

At last, here is a blue version of my dimpled nugget beads. I have tried loads of blue combinations, as blue is my favourite colour, it had to be just perfect so I took my time. It's a mixture of Effetre Ocean and Reichenbach's Mystic blue. I'm very pleased with them but I'm not sure any of the jewellery made with the current batch is going to make it as far as the stall - I'm pretty sure I'll be keeping it myself! Blue nugget glass lampwork beadsI have plans for a purple and aqua version but none of the prototypes are quite right yet.

I've also been making beads for a regular customer. She wanted a pink version of the akamai beads which have so far been made in the following colourways:
  • turquoise/violet
  • orange/brown
  • blue/green
I'm sure a pink one would be as well received as the others so this is what I've come up with for her.

The other akamai beads had blobs of sis (silvered ivory stringer)* swirled inbetween the colours but that didn't work with pink so I've used a combination of opaque pink, EDF and an intensely pink frit blend. I showed this bead to my customer on Saturday and I think she liked it but I showed her the new pink dimpled nuggets at the same time and she preferred those! All the same, I think I'll make a batch of these cos I like 'em!

*For non-beadmakers, sis is a rod of ivory coloured glass with silver foil burnished into the surface, the rod and foil is then melted into a blob and when it's still in it's melted state pulled out using tweezers into a thinner rod. The thinner rod is then applied sparingly to beads in the case of the akamai beads.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Fender bender

DH has been dropping me off at the Art & Craft Market and unloading my numerous boxes, battery for my lights and assorted paraphernalia for the best part of six years. There are numerous high kerbs in Cambridge which are all angling to scratch your alloy wheels, there are bollards strategically placed below eye level to trap you into scratching your paintwork. Cylists - without proper lights or high visibility clothing - appear from all over the place out of the gloom to dent your bonnet. So far DH has avoided all of the hazards Cambridge has placed in his path.

Not so my sister, Sharon, who also has a jewellery stall at the Art & Craft Market. Her car(s) have had one or two encounters with the bollards and of course, it wasn't her fault ... ever ... Additionally, when a battery falls off her trolley, it wasn't the hazardous placing of the battery near the edge of the trolley, it was the pedestrian who stepped in front of her making her have to come to a halt faster than the battery could cope with.

So used to hearing tales of why the latest dent or scrape on her car wasn't her fault, I think that he must have caught someone-else's-faultitis from her because when this happened to his car ...Mr Dorans car with scraches... then, of course, it was the fault of another stallholder's inconsiderate parking.

The cost of putting this right will probably wipe out any profit I made on Saturday and so I might just as well have stayed at home and watched Merlin! (Instead of having to wait for the repeat the following Friday).