Friday, 23 November 2012

A "sew sew" week!

I've been rather distracted this week.  Well, to be fair, I did work all weekend, and I have had a rotten cold, and I do have lots n lots of market stock and no huge commissions outstanding, so I thought I'd earned a bit of time to indulge myself.  

I've been attending a sewing class for the past few weeks and one of the things I particularly wanted to do was make a pattern for a dress that fits me, as opposed to using a commercial pattern.  So with help from the teacher I made a paper pattern from a dress I already own and made it up in calico.  Lots of adjustments were needed, then I made another calico version - and finally I got my hands on some wine coloured needlecord and made my first pinafore dress.  

I learnt how to add darts and how to make and apply bias binding, and I finished it all off with some sweet little lined patch pockets.  Its not perfect but I learnt loads, I have ideas for a couple of little tweaks (more fabric on its way!) and, as you can tell by its general crumpledness, I've worn it for the last two days!

For a little light relief during the final stages of the pinafore, I did use a commercial pattern, New Look 6803, to make this dress, which I then took along to class for advice on correcting the fit around the neckline.  A couple of extra tucks was all it needed and now I love it.  

Just look at the delicious pattern, like little murrini flowers - beady inspiration is everywhere!

Another thing I've been wanting to get to grips with in my class is inserting zips, and after a couple of goes I made the pouch in the first photo to keep all my sewing bits n bobs in.  Its a bit "floppy" so I might try again, but that zip is (almost) perfect!  I used a pdf pattern from, but I wanted it big enough for my scissors so I got the original pattern photocopied 50% larger.  I found the tutorial a little tricky to use because the photos don't line up with the written steps, so there was much rifling through pages and muttering going on!

Here's a little bit of glassy eye candy to finish with.  A pair of beautiful "by george, it's Lush!" fibula pins.

And some light pulls.  The black and white one is so sweet!

I'm selling at Moseley Arts Market tomorrow, its meant to be an extra special market as it coincides with the Christmas lights switch-on.  I'm very worried about the weather though, we might get rained off or blown away!

Friday, 16 November 2012


Here's a couple of commissions I've been working on recently.

Fifteen little sets - it was impossible to get a good single photo of the whole group, but it was very satisfying to see them all together before I sent them off.

And this commission was for a pair of earrings to match a pendant I made probably around 2 years ago.

Busy bead - just for fun!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Jellybeans anyone?

Hooray, Lush Loops connectors are back in stock.  

So I could finish off this stash of Jellybean Bracelets I was working on.

I'm hoping these might keep me going till Christmas!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Hoop-la-la bracelets using the tutorial on Lesley Watt's blog, The Gossiping Goddess.

Cotton cord, large seed beads and Lush Hoops from my website.

Odd lampwork buttons from down the back of my sofa (metaphorically speaking!).

I got rather carried away with this one, its a double wrap bracelet to celebrate the mad wonky button.

My friend Lesley Jane Dixon makes gorgeous bracelets from the same tutorial - hope you can see her pics in her Facebook album.

Monday, 12 November 2012

New Hoops!

"New Hoops" ... I can't help but think of Julie Walters when I say that, tottering along in a waitress uniform! (two soups ... get it?)

So like I said, I've got some new Lush Hoops.  There's 7 new colours in the medium and large size: a couple of lovely festive reddish shades, Red Red Wine and Vimto; some useful neutrals - Lentil, which is kinda yellow, kinda green, and Sticky Toffee, a creamy caramel colour; Basil is a gorgeous soft green with a hint of blue, I think I'll be using that one a lot; Jade is actually an old colour that disappeared and I'm very pleased to see its return, in all 3 sizes, yay; Bye Bye Baby is a soft baby blue, not quite as pale as Bubble Bath; and finally Milk Chocolate in the Large size.

Click here to see Lush Loops and Hoops on my website.

I've restocked all the Collections and Mixes, and these options include the new colours.  And for a limited time I've also listed packs of just the new colours if  you want to top up your collection without trawling through all the listings.

Lush Loops and Hoops got a mention in the December issue of Beads and Beyond which has just come out, resulting in a flurry of orders and serious depletion of Loops connector stocks!  Not to worry, lots more will be here in a couple of days.

Speaking of Lush Loops, I recently added a new shade of light pink, perfect for girly girls!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Getting Stuck In

My lovely friend Kaz came to stay last weekend and we had a ball, chatting, eating and playing for hours on end in the studio.  

I've been busy busy ever since, working on all the new ideas we came up with and preparing for Malvern Arts Market tomorrow (Sat 10th November).

At last I have lots of stud earrings for all those ladies that tell me they don't like drops.  I think these are my absolute favourite pair - so far ...

I got rather carried away with the cufflinks! 

These may look a little familiar - they used to be ring toppers, but now they're permanently attached to some cheap and cheerful adjustable rings.

And finally, I made more Heavenly Hanging Hearts to take to market, and some simpler ones too.  They look quite Christmas-y, but I think mine will be hanging up all year round!  

I hope to update the website with some of these new pieces next week.

PS Thanks to Dawn Turner for all the advice :0)

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A Sense of Achievement

You may remember my earlier post about the commission from Anna Clifton to create glass beads for the sculpture she is working on for Edgbaston High School?  

Well, I've finally delivered around 4 kilos of plain, large, clear glass beads to Anna!

Every single one of the 700 beads was shaped in the flame one by one - if you  haven't seen lampwork beads being created before, I made a little video to show you how its done.  

The glass starts out as rods, made by Stourbridge glass manufacturer,  Plowden & Thompson, which I melted in the flame and applied to 4mm wide stainless steel mandrels.  I first dipped the end of each mandrel in a clay like substance which prevents the beads from permanently fusing to the steel. I used a graphite "bead roller" to help with the shaping, and then I placed the hot beads into a kiln to cool down very slowly.  This slow cooling process (annealing) takes around 9 hours and is vital to ensure the beads are strong and stable and that they will last pretty much forever.  (Thanks to Max Bristow for filming the video - apparently he's my favourite nephew!)

After cooling I removed the beads from the mandrels and cleaned out the powdery residue left in the holes by the separator substance, at the same time checking every bead for quality and integrity.  Then the mandrels were ready to be re-dipped for the next session.  I had originally planned to make 10 beads at a time, but as time slipped by there were a few long - usually late night - sessions when I'd manage to get around 50 beads in the kiln at a time.

So now its over to Anna, to finish her beaten shapes and assemble all the components at the school by the start of the September term.  I just can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

New Classes in The Lusherie

I've devised two new class formats, mainly aimed at the local folk - although they are of course open to all!  For those wanting to just have a go at melting glass and making a few beads I have a one hour Taster Session, costing just £25 for one person, or £20 each for groups of up to four people.

And for a fun girlie trip out (fellas can join in too), you can Make Your Own Glass Bead Bracelet - following one hour's tuition in making simple rounded beads and decorating with dots, you get to choose a coloured thong bracelet then spend a happy couple of hours filling up the kiln.  This class can be taken by up to 4 friends, for £40 per person (£45 for one) and would make a fun hen party or birthday gift.  

Look at how many beads the first Bracelet class students made.  I think they might need more bracelets!

Following either of these sessions you can either come back for Torch Time if you're feeling competent to "fly solo", or book another tuition session - from 3 hours to 2 days, whatever suits.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A lovely bundle

Look at this lovely little bundle of glass I got in the post last week.  It came from Creation is Messy HQ, via Tuffnell Glass.

Rarely do new colours inspire me as much as these to run straight out to the studio and get playing.  The first colour that really got me excited was the beautiful glowing opal blue called Poseidon.

To be completely honest, I was a little concerned to find that the first bead I made with Poseidon and Cardamom (more about that beauty shortly) actually came out of the kiln cracked.  I'm not sure if I admired it too long before putting it to bed, so the next day I reheated it in the kiln, carefully introduced it back to the flame and thoroughly warmed it through to heal the crack.  Its actually about a week now since I made it and no crack has reappeared so I'm pretty certain it was my fault and the glass is not to blame!

So I'd describe Poseidon (bead 2) as a greeny blue, sitting somewhere between Chalcedony (bead 1) and Kryptonite (bead 3) ... mmm, gorgeous! 
Have a look at the other side, aren't these just lovely colours together?

However, it does have a tendency to over strike and become a little muddy as in these two beads.  In no 1 I have used Poseidon with another of the new CIM colours, Linen, and quite a lot of SIS and silver wire - its possible that the silver has fumed the Poseidon and caused it to darken.  Bead no 2 is the one I  mentioned earlier, that I had to reheat, and I think the colour has lost its clarity due to overworking.  It doesn't look too bad on this photo but bead no 2 is not pretty!

Look at this!  Both the Poseidon (bead 1) and the Kryptonite (bead 2) have reacted in the same way; they've gone opaque at the bottom and retained their semi-transulency (is that a word?) further up.  Presumably this is due to the relatively large mass of opal glass and the more gentle flame I've used compared to when I made the first beads.  Great effect.

The next new colour on my shopping list is CIM Cardamom, its such a pretty, fresh, delicate green, lighter than Elphaba or Effetre lime and sharper than Dirty Martini.  I really can't think of another opaque green to compare it to.  So bead 1 is the aforementioned Cardamom with Poseidon, bead 2 is with Fremen (my favourite combination), bead 3 with Dirty Martini (on the bottom) and bead 4 with Celadon.  SIS sits nicely on Cardamom and isn't swallowed up into a thin line, as is the case with a lot of greens.  I'm yet to try dots on Cardamom, but there's plenty of time for that because I'll definitely be ordering this colour.

Now onto Peachy Keen, the very pale transparent rod you can see in the top photo.  I was surprised by how dark this colour actually became when it was worked, closer to ginger beer than peach, I think.  Its a nice colour and etches well.  In this photo bead 1 is Peachy Keen with Linen and SIS; I think bead 2 was the same combination but I wrapped rather too much silver foil around it; and bead 3 shows how nicely Peachy Keen etches.

The last rod was Linen.  Its a nice neutral, one rod wasn't enough to play around with it much.  You can see it in the above photos with Poseidon and Peachy Keen, and I also used it in the Poseidon heart bead instead of the Effetre ivory I've used in the other seaside beads.  Sorry, I don't have any better pics of Linen as it took a supporting role.

Just to add, thanks to Emma at Tuffnells for sending me a second rod of Poseidon and Cardamom to continue to experiment with.  I still have a little bit of each left and will post if I find anything else interesting! 

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Following on from my last post, 700 beads ...

After around 6 or 7 hours of tumbling with steel shot and garden gravel, the beads (on the left) are definitely less shiny than when they went in.  Unfortunately though, I still had to clean the holes with my dremel.

I sent off this photo to Anna, and she has decided she prefers the shiny beads. Hurray!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

700 beads!

I have a little task to be getting on with, its going to keep me rather busy, but as Anna Clifton put it, it is very exciting!

Anna contacted me just over a week ago to ask if I would be interested in working on a fantastic commission she has received from Edgbaston High School.  You bet I would!

The piece is to be a 2.4m high framed sculpture to be displayed in the school's new entrance hall.  Anna explains all about it in her own blog

So while Anna gets on with lots of metal cutting, bashing and soldering, my job is to make beads as a backdrop for her housemartins, leaves and triangles.  Originally we thought I'd need to make 640 beads (yep, six hundred and forty beads!) but to be sure there's enough, I'm actually going to aim at around 700.  Daunted?  Rather!  Oh, and the beads need to be 16-20mm wide and made on 4mm mandrels.

I thought it would be good keep the Midlands connection going, so I ordered 5kg of clear glass rods from UK glass makers Plowden & Thompson in Stourbridge.  Did you know that 2012 is the 400th anniversary of glass making in Stourbridge?

I expected to start work on Friday 11th May and the beads need to be ready by the beginning of August, AT THE LATEST!.  I think I need to pace myself or I may completely disappear under a mound of clear beads, so I've worked out there's 70 days until 22nd July, which gets the job finished before my birthday and leaves some time in hand to make any adjustments.  I should be able to manage to make ten beads a day for 70 days, shouldn't I?

Well, best laid plans and all that.  I missed the glass delivery on Friday so didn't actually get started until Monday.  The P&T glass is fantastic - its 93 COE so my two oxycons come in handy, but the glass is lovely to melt.  Its not shocky or scummy and is incredibly tolerant of getting a little cool.  In fact, I'm getting two beads to a mandrel with no trouble at all. Good job actually, as of course, this week my Etsy shop has come to life with orders for beads made on 4mm mandrels.  Doh - good job I ordered another 15 mandrels then.  

Anyway, I got off to a great start on Monday with 22 beads made, and around another 16 on Tuesday.  The extra mandrels have now arrived so there should be no excuse for falling behind.

Slight problem though, in Anna's brief she said "I don't think the beads need to all be perfectly round and I'm happy for them to be a bit cloudy" - two descriptions that aren't necessarily as easy as they sound.  To make sure the beads are big enough, I need to use a tool to shape them and my biggest round shaper is a CG beadroller donut that goes up to 18mm.  Some variation in size is required - I'm managing that by not being too perfectly precise with the roller, producing the occasional bead that's a little larger or smaller than the cavity.  But this glass is incredibly clear and shiny (I reckon it gives DH Zephyr a run for its money) so the finish may be too bright for Anna's requirements.  

Maybe a very light etching would work, but I'm giving tumbling a go first of all.  The tumbler has been running for about 3 hours now, with around 20 beads in there together with steel shot and a load of garden gravel.  I didn't clean out the bead release before putting them in, I'm really hoping that tumbling will roughen em up and clean em out ... we'll see!

Oh, and I see Anna's blogged again :0)  (I made the beads in her photo with the last of my scummy old Effetre 004)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lush Style

Do you like my style?

I love to play around with different stringing materials and enjoy coming up with alternatives to traditional tiger tail, with metal crimps and clasps.

Its actually a few years ago now that I first came across some wonderful 3mm PVC tube in a stunning array of frosted colours, I bought a bagful, stashed it in a drawer and waited for inspiration ... and waited ... I even bought some more ...

I have no idea what finally got me going but eventually I pulled all that lovely tube back into the daylight and rediscovered its fabulousness!  

When I realised that such good quality tube in this size was so hard to come by I decided to bite the bullet and offer it for sale to my friends and fellow lampworkers.  They loved my Lush Loops so much, they keep selling out!  
Lush Loops are perfect on their own for simple bracelets and chokers, and I also enjoy chopping up any leftovers and threading them onto cotton cord with a random colourful mixture of beads and ... Lush Hoops!  

Oh oh oh, look at all those colours!  I can't believe how happy a bunch of rubber Hoops can make me feel (except that they keep selling out too!).

That lovely silver clasp was made specially to compliment these designs by George Harper East - check out mizgeorge on Etsy.
So if you need a little inspiration, if your mojo could do with a kick to get it going in a new direction, take a look at my website and check out the new pages: there's Lush Loops, Lush Hoops in 3 sizes (the Small Hoops won't fit on the Loops but there's plenty of other uses for them), and Lush Style, where you can pick up cotton cord, and large seed beads to bring your designs right up to date!

And if that lot doesn't get you going, how about a Kit?!

Sunday, 8 April 2012


I've been playing with a few rods that were sent to me for testing.  First up is the new silver glass by Double Helix, Notos.

Billed as "a silver saturated super-luster with a subtle blue-grey-green tone" I definitely agree with the grey/green tone, that's exactly how I was describing it to myself when working with it.  I found it really easy to reduce and achieve a shiny silver, which turns more golden when worked more in a cool reducing flame.  I had a little play to see what would happen if I allowed it to glow when reducing - as expected, Notos did then turn murky but I could mostly burn off the murkiness and reduce it again (something I can never do with Triton).

I had very little success with encasing Notos.  A few faintly lustred wisps was the best I achieved under clear, but its lovely when simply reduced on the surface.  I shall be interested to see what more those with more silver glass skills can achieve.

I made this heart from Verde Muschio with a Notos shoulder and spots.  The Verde Muschio - which I think means Moss Green - is really surprising.  
It starts out transparent, develops a bloom as it cools and ends up cloudily opaque - I love it!  The heart is a darker green than the lentil, probably due to the fuming effect of the silver glass ... interesting ...

Vetrofond Mauvelous is simply marvellous!  Its a pretty pale creamy mauve with a beautiful lustred sheen and just looks fabulous on its own. My torch tends to be a little reducing, so a more neutral environment may produce less, or more even, sheen.

Effetre Sandstone and Sediment are two lovely organic glasses that also work so nicely on their own, together or as an organic base.  I haven't yet had chance to try them with silver but I can just tell they'll be great.

I tried Pinky Winky once before and didn't really get it ... and I must admit, I still don't get it.  Its an odd combination of pink over blue, and I find the blue just makes the pink look a bit dirty.  But that just might be down to what I did with it!

Let's get a little brighter ... Vetrofond Orange Punch, Dreamsicle and Transparent Orange are next.  
Orange Punch is a rich, reddish orange.  
Dreamsicle is bright, with lots of lovely depth. 
Transparent Orange made my mouth water like a juicy ice lolly, its not really transparent at all, more like a CIM opal, brilliant!

I also had another very quick play with the new Effetre Cool Earth and Streaky Denim.  I managed to avoid Streaky Denim reducing this time and I'm pleased with the purple (just a touch of reduction on the edges).  
Earth is a strong, rich blue with a touch of green.

Let's finish with another look at that Mauvelous heart!