Saturday, September 28, 2013

You send my heart all a flutter ....

Lampwork hearts are always lovely to make.  I start by making a long barrel shape of glass with two lumps (technical term ... obviously) either side of the mandrel and heat it up until it is like thick treacle. Then using gravity I sculpt the glass into a heart shape.

I have already written a little about this heart in my post A Journey Through Love but I didn't really explain how I came about making this bead.  As you already know (mainly because I keep going on and on and on about it ....) I have been making implosion beads for a LONG time and quite by accident I turned one into a heart.  Since then I have made lots of implosion heart beads that jewellery designers have converted into beautiful pendants.    

As I have already explained, my hearts are all hand formed.  I don't use a press or mould to shape them, I rely on gravity.  This is a personal preference ... mainly because I find the whole process quite therapeutic and very rewarding.  You have to wait for the glass to move under gravity then very slowly and methodically you need to encourage the glass into the shape of a heart.  You can't rush this process, you have to take your time ... Depending on how much you manipulate the glass will depend on how much the implosion is pulled out or altered, making every bead completely unique!  There are beautiful effects that can be achieved and I have yet to explore  .... it is on my list though!

I have more hearts to show you over the next couple of months but for now if you want to keep up with  my lampwork creations you can either visit my shop on Etsy - Beadscrumptious or come and like my facebook page where I always post new beads and any offers. 

Sarah xx

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What to look for when purchasing lampwork beads ... part 1

I am a very conscientious lampwork artist.  I take a great deal of pride in my work and have always sought to make the highest quality beads.  I am a perfectionist and I will not sell any beads that I am not 100% happy with.  Each and every bead represents a piece of art that cannot be replicated or copied.  It is a moment of time trapped within the glass.

I thought I would share some examples of what makes a good quality lampwork bead. Whether you are a new lampwork artist learning your craft or someone that is looking to purchase a set of lampwork beads I hope to give you a few tips on what makes a good bead.

Take a close look at the bead holes in the picture above.  You can see that the entrance to the bead hole is smooth and rounded.  There are no jagged edges, no loose pieces of glass .... everything is smooth.  Now, this is a personal preference .... but my lampwork beads always have a smooth glass transition to the bead hole.  If I am selling my lampwork beads then I want them to be of the highest quality possible with no jagged edges or rough splinters of glass.

There are also practical reasons for this.  As you know I also make jewellery using my lampwork beads.  It is important to have a smooth transition to the bead hole ..... you don't want to have rough edges around the bead holes because the jagged pieces of glass will snap off and end up in your jewellery designs and if the edges are too rough they will eventually rub against your stringing material and wear it away.  The answer ..... to create a beautiful dimple around the bead hole with rounded edges and no sharp pieces of glass protruding from the bead.  I am preparing a tutorial on how to achieve this .... if you are new to lampwork.

Whilst still concentrating on the area around the bead hole .... another thing to look for or try to achieve if you are a lampwork artist is to completely encase the bead in clear glass.  Now, next time you are looking through a batch of lampwork beads take a good look at the internal glass surrounding the bead the hole.  Depending on the design (of course) there should be a lovely clean covering of glass right to the bead hole.  You don't want to see a murky line where the colours within the glass have bled into one another.   

Again, this is a personal preference but I prefer to encase beads fully in clear glass right up to the bead hole, as you can see in the photograph above.  It is a difficult skill to master and you can learn a great deal from tutorials and fellow artists but I think you need to find your way of doing it.  We are all different and what works for one person may not be easy for another.  It gives a lovely finish to the lampwork beads and adds a certain amount of depth.

I work very hard to make the most beautiful lampwork beads that I can.  I tend to focus more on the internal details within the beads rather than external designs and I am constantly striving to push the boundaries and make the most intricate beads that I can. It has taken a few years but I have now developed my own signature and style of lampwork beads and this is very important.  If you are a lampwork artist you need to find your speciality and develop this to make it your own.  Don't try to copy someone else's designs and sell them because you are cheating them and yourself.  Be unique, be different and be true to yourself.

I am afraid all of the lampwork beads featured in this blog have been sold.  If you would like to see more of my work then please visit my shop on Etsy - Beadscrumptious

Sarah xx

Monday, September 23, 2013

Different? ..... it's ok!

I have loads of beads tucked away in my bead box waiting to be converted into delicious pairs of earrings.  It won't surprise you to know that when I paired the beads together the only common factors were the colours I used within the beads.  I can't help it .... I get bored making the same beads all the time .... and it makes the earrings a little bit more interesting.  Also ..... I can't help feeling a little bit rebellious making earrings that don't match exactly!  

I wasn't entirely sure how people would react to earrings that weren't exactly the same so I tested the designs out on friends and family.  The response was very positive and whenever I wear my earrings I always receive lovely compliments ..... encouraged ..... I have continued to make more.  

I always make beads the same size and keep the base colour the same with accent beads that either enhance or compliment both the base and design colour.  The design, I like to vary and play around with ..... in most cases ........

This pair of earrings was based on a red, white and blue theme ...... a bit of fun .... and why not?

All of my earrings are available to purchase from my shop on WOW Thank you! Click on one of the photographs and a link will take you straight there.

Sarah xx

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wire Wrapping Lampwork Beads.

As I keep mentioning ...... (sorry for boring you) ....  this style of lampwork beads are my signature in the lampwork world.  This is a technique that I have tinkered with to develop a style that is unique and very intricate in it's development.  All of the decoration is within the bead and every time you look into one of these beads you will see something completely different.  They are extremely tricky to make and I have many beads that end up in the flower bed .......  but I also have a lot of successful beads as you can see here.

Whilst these beads look very beautiful in a side view ..... the implosion is meant to be viewed looking straight down the bead hole ..... just like this .....

Now, usually you string the bead through the bead hole and incorporate the bead into your jewellery designs with the side of the bead being viewed.  When I made these beads I hoped to give the jewellery designer a new challenge in terms of stringing.  In my head (there is a lot filed away in there) I have quite a few designs floating around in the ether but haven't had any time to make them.  This is always the case because I get carried away developing my beads ..... striving to make more intricate, more beautiful, more colourful designs ..... I wanted to show how these beads could be strung to accentuate the intricate design within the glass.

Then, a lady called Sheena Carruthers purchased a set of my beads.  Whenever I make a sale, I always ask for a photograph of how my beads were used.  I was so proud when Sheena sent me a photograph of the pendant she had made.  It is amazing and so beautiful! 

It is such a beautiful piece of jewellery and is a gorgeous example of how you can string one of my implosion beads and get the beauty of the bead as it should be viewed.  I cannot make anything as beautiful as this because my wirework is certainly not to this level but over the holidays I had a go myself if only to release some of the ideas drifting around my head ..... the creative ones amongst you will understand .....

I took a length of relatively fine silver wire.  It was very pliable and needed to be for this design.  I wrapped a length of wire around another length of wire (.... does this make sense? .....) to make the loop in the centre of the bead.  I then created a wire wrapped knot because I wanted to cover the bead hole and create a pretty central aspect to the bead.  Through the knot I then threaded different lengths of wire and twisted some around to give the pendant extra strength.  Really .... I was experimenting and going where ever the wire was taking me ...... I finished off with a loop and secured the piece together with even more wire wrapping.

Here is a back view of the piece ......

You can see the wire wrapping more clearly in this photograph.  I love the effect you get from wrapping wire over another piece of wire.  It looks nice and tidy!  I have made a few more pendants using these beads and have used the wire differently to create different effects.  I have been pleased with the results but I need to get back into the studio to make some more beads as my head is spinning with more and more ideas of things to make ......HELP!

Unfortunately the jewellery I have featured in this article is not for sale but if you click on the link to my shop on Etsy, you may find a set of beads that you can turn into something truly spectacular!

Sarah xx

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Beadmakers Holiday!

I have been away from Facebook, twitter and my blog for such a long time, I thought I had better explain why .........  I have been on a very, very, very lovely holiday to France.  Although I have been home for nearly two weeks I am so relaxed that I can't get back into the swing of things ..... this is good and this is bad!  So I thought to try and get me over my lovely holiday I would write a few words about it and then hopefully my bead making brain will take over and I will be able to make beads again .... that is the theory anyway ..... 

So where did I go?  We went to the Midi-Pyrenees in France and stayed in a lovely place called Bouziès.  It was beautiful! We were surrounded by lovely picturesque villages perched on the edges of limestone cliffs .... just like the village of St Cirq Lapopie in the photograph.  We did a LOT of climbing and walking up very steep hills ..... but worth it because the views were spectacular! 

What I adored about this region is that is relatively untouched and has kept all the old world charms.  There are so many medieval buildings and wonderful architecture that it is a great source of inspiration for any artist. 

As I have three young children we also visited a few castles as part of our 2013 castle tour!  We saw trebuchets and medieval armour and had a fantastic time!

We found a few hidden treasures within the limestone on the banks of the River Lot, raced a boat down the canal, and visited a pre-historic cave where we saw some of the oldest cave drawings in the world.  

There were so many places that had been left untouched.  It really was beautiful and I am sure over the next couple of months I will be posting more photographs that have brought inspiration to my work.  I could write loads more about this region but I am being good and trying not to turn my lampwork blog into a travel diary but it is very difficult ......  I have also been very good .... so far and tried to keep my photographs to a minimum as I have hundreds ...... 

...... now I really must make some beads ............

One final note .... we stayed in a lovely Gite, owned and run by a very lovely family.  If you are interested in visiting this region yourself then here are some details of a lovely place to stay .....

Mr and Mme l. Foxcroft-Timms
Bajouve, 46330 Bouziès, FRANCE

Telephone : (00 33) 5 65 30 26 04


Sarah xx