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Out with the old, in with the new

It’s a new year, 2015, and with it comes resolutions to do better than the year before. For me this means raising my online presence in the form of adding lots to my website, writing more blogs and increasing my interaction with the social media platforms. The scary part of this has been made somewhat easier by having my social media reviewed by Social Quirk who produced an detailed overview of what I do right, and wrong, and what I need to do in the future. Now all I have to is follow it …

I have fewer fairs this year and I’m selling in a reduced capacity at Flame Off, preferring instead to spend more time helping people use the torch benches and catch a demo or two. It will be odd being on the ‘other side’ but I hope just as enjoyable.

I have started dabbling with boro glass and am enjoying making marbles:


I am also playing more with the glow glass. It’s fun seeing it glow in the dark; it adds another element to my beads. I spent yesterday experimenting with glow murrini and was pleased with this result:

hydra murrini


So more social media and lots of practice with boro and glow – should keep me busy!

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Christmas comes but once a year …

Now it’s almost upon us. I am practicing making marbles, they take far too long at the moment but with practice I should speed up.

I am also making a lot of glow beads, beads that glow in  the dark or under UV light,. They fascinate me, quite magical! I sell glow stringer and frit with a good friend of mine, Debbie Dew. Together we are Gloworms ( and sell our glow products to the lampworking community. I’m really excited about the new glow we are trialing as they glow in wonderful hues of aqua, violet and green.

The photo shows some beads in daylight, under UV and in the dark.


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All the fun of the fair

Today I had a craft fair.I don’t do many as I prefer making the beads rather than turning them into jewellery. But this is a fair I’ve done for the last two years, with the other stalls manned by friends, and I knew it would be a lovely day. I wasn’t disappointed.

It was held in a tiny, rural village hall and there were only ten pitches in all. The unique thing was that every stall had truly handmade crafts from crocheting to candles, knitting to pottery and wood-turning. There were two glass stalls- mine and a fused glass one. We had a steady flow of visitors all interested in what was on offer and willing to chat about the wares.

I took along not only jewellery, but all my beads too. There is always the chance a jewellery maker would stop by for a look round, and sure enough one did. Another wanted visitor wanted a penguin critter made into a pendant. Neither sale would have happened if I’d left my beads at home.

Holeach St Johns 9-11-14

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It’s been a funny summer holiday break from work; I saw lots of family for very different reasons, had a two week holiday in Scotland and suddenly I have less than a week left before the new term starts.

My torch has been all but abandoned for the last five weeks but I finally snatched an hour or so yesterday. Hatfield Bead Fair went well, meaning stock needs replacing, and in a few weeks time is the GBUK AGM.

The AGM is being held in Yorkshire this time, at Tuffnells. Superb location in my opinion. Not only has Martin got lots of torches to play on, and a shop to spend all my hard-earned cash in, but Martin & Teresa are fantastic hosts.

The torch time I’ve had today has been spent creating my entry for the circus challenge, a competition just for the AGM. The prize is small but the challenge is great – can I actually make something worthwhile?

Watch this space – I will upload my entry, but not until after the AGM.


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In 2015 I’ll be …

.. selling online as I won’t be doing any fairs after the end of the year, unless I finish at Flame Off, but that’s a decision for later.

More of my beads available online – Facebook, website, Twitter. You’ll probably get fed up of seeing my beads everywhere you go, but hopefully you will like what you see.


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That was Flame Off 2014 …

It was a busy and stressful few weeks with the run up to the Big Bead Show, at Sandown Racecourse, then Flame Off and the North Midlands Bead Fair, at Uttoxteter Racecourse, a week later.

The Big Bead Show promised lots and delivered little, largely due to the burdensome overheads – extortionate table fee (compared to other bead fairs) and charges for both electricity (£30 per stall!) and an additional cost for a table. We brought our own tables, but there isn’t a way of avoiding the power costs if we want lights, bar taking our own generator.

Flame Off, however, is total value for money – three long benches of torches, with everything from a hot head to a midrange plus to try out; demonstrations by fantastic glass artists, lots of great stalls selling beads, equipment and supplies and, of course, the chance to catch up with everyone.

I entered the GBUK annual bead competition. I did two entries this year, go me!, in the focal  and bead set sections. The entries are kept secret until after judging so I’ve had to wait to show people.


This was my focal, following the theme of Forever Blue, I called it Serenity.  

The alternative theme was Famous Artists, and I made a set of beads inspired by Wassily Kandinsky called Wood Carved Rainbow.

wood carved rainbow

Flame Off also saw the launch of Gloworms,  glow glass in frit and stringer form, and I’m glad to say it was well received – lots of ooohs and aahs. This is a joint venture between myself and Debbie Dew of Silverartz and we worked tirelessly in the run up to Flame Off making stringer, frit, murrini, vine and petal cane.

25-11-13 clear



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Entering competitions

I’ve always loved making beads for competition entries as it stretches my imagination to come up with something to fit the theme.

I am busy making one for the annual Glass Beadmakers UK (GBUK) competition which has themes of either ‘Famous Artists’ or ‘Feeling Blue’. Googling either phrase produces a wealth of imagery for inspiration, but sometimes I’m a little too ambitious and imagination outstrips ability! Nothing wrong with aspiring to those heights though, so I usually set to and have a go.

To date I have only won once, when I made a set of glass fruit pastilles for the theme ‘Confectionery’.

dragonfireglass-king of the buddleia small

This was the theme of ‘Flora and Fauna’ in 2012.


The bottom was last year’s entry, with the theme ‘The Final Frontier’,which eventually got raffled off in aid of the Northamptonshire Air Ambulance at the 2013 Flame Off event.  All this year’s entries will be available for viewing at this year’s event, at Uttoxeter Racecourse on 11th & 12th April.


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Chilly days

Christmas has been and gone, no snow – yet – but lots of freezing wind and rain.
It’s been almost as cold in the studio, with temperatures plummeting to -2 some mornings, but intrepid me turns on the kiln and torch and sets to with thick socks and warm boots.
I’ve been a little rudderless though, not really having any idea of what to make, so I’ve played around trying different ideas, following a few tutorials and have produced some pretty beads.


My next bead fair isn’t until March so I have time yet for inspiration to strike. In the meantime I have the GBUK annual competition to enter, with themes of ‘Feeling Blue’ or ‘Famous Artists’. I wonder what I shall come up with this time …

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Feeling groggy …

Winter has well and truly arrived, with high winds, plunging temperatures and rain, lots of rain. I’m not a fan of wind but, as a general rule, I quite like rain, especially when I’m tucked up warm in my studio with the torch and kiln on, listening to the radio.

But today I have a cold, a bad cold, that may keep me away because, not only is my head pounding, there is little you can do about a runny nose with a hot bead in one hand and a hot rod of glass in the other. Besides which – have you tried blowing your nose with one hand? Not good!

It’s a shame because I’m enjoying myself with plenty of ideas. Halloween, of course, provides plenty of work to do.



I’ve also been making long focals to add to my latest present idea – bottle openers.

1 2 3-1


I’m hoping these will be the perfect gift and have had fun creating lots of different designs. Every one is unique.


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Going batty ….

Halloween isn’t far away so I’m in full production mode for Halloween beads – especially bats. They are fun to make and oh so cute! Just wondering if it’s worth making different colours. I make yellow and purple sheep and pigs but most of them are still sitting waiting for a new home. Maybe people don’t like alternative ones …


And what else? I’m struggling with producing ghost beads. I’ve tried different ones for the last few years, but they haven’t sold well. Is it that ghost beads just aren’t popular or because mine weren’t?

Pumpkins, of course, can’t have Halloween without pumpkins. I’ll make a variety of sizes because I like my customers to have choice.


Last year I made some zombie beads. They sold quite well, mostly to children, so I’ll have to put my thinking cap on to come up with some variations.