Friday, 16 September 2011

Blog Interview - Elise Canning, Beadazzled by Elise

Apologies for the distinct lack of blog updates over the last couple of weeks but Mr C and I have been having lots of adventures on honeymoon in Canada.  I promise to upload lots of pics soon but in the mean time I just couldn't wait to bring you our latest blog interview with Elise Canning.  Elise's beads are absolutely stunning and are incredibly unique so please take a few minutes to read her interview and visit her website and Facebook page.

A little bit about Elise:

Elise Canning is the face behind Beadazzled by Elise.  She is an artisan bead designer and creator who uses polymer clay to create beautiful flower beads.  Elise’s style is very unique and her beads have featured in Making Jewellery, Bead and Beads & Beyond magazines as well as being in great demand from jewellery makers including Nicky Townsend who we featured in last months blog interview.
Elise’s beads can be found online at where you can find not only her flower beads but also a selection of Christmas beads, butterflies, insects and leaves.

How long have you been making your beads and charms and how did it all begin?I started making my own flower beads using polymer clay when I wanted to make a charm bracelet for my mother. One of my mother’s passions is her amazing garden and she has a huge knowledge of flowers. I wanted to include some of her favourite flowers in the bracelet but couldn’t find any that fitted the bill. So, I made some myself using Polymer Clay. I then sold a few of the leftovers on Ebay. My husband Mark suggested that I should open an Ebay store where I could sell flowers to other designers. I moved to my own website just over 2 years ago and started a Facebook page where my customers could interact with me this year. Everyone has been very encouraging and it’s wonderful to be able to get immediate feedback on my ideas.
What inspires you?Nature. How amazing are Mother Nature’s creations? I try to create beads that look as natural as possible, although I also like making flower beads that are a little different too.
The jewellery designers I work alongside, the pieces of art that they come up with using my beads are inspiring. When Nicky Townsend (Enchanted) asked me to make the largest rose I could, she made me stretch myself and I’m thankful that she does push me. It also helps me grow as an artist.
What equipment and techniques do you use in your work?I use basic polymer clay tools, a pasta machine for conditioning, bead racks and pins. I make up a lot of my techniques and I like to sculpt, having the raw clay in your hands, knowing how to make something beautiful is exciting
Where can people learn more about your work?I regularly post my work and chat with my online friends on my Facebook page, I don’t have a blog as I like to be making rather than sitting at the computer.
What advice would you give to others interested using polymer clay?I would recommend joining a group, the help and encouragement you can receive from other members is amazing. You’re made to feel welcome and help is always on hand. Beading forums like Bead Buddies and UK Beaders have sections specifically for polymer clay.

Three words that sum you up: Kooky, Sensitive, Arty.
What makes you smile: My family, I have the most amazing family around me. My 2 children Montanna and Riley. My husband Mark and my mother Suzann. They make me smile and keep me going when I’m feeling down

Friday, 19 August 2011

Guest Interview - Nicky Townsend, Enchanted Handmade Jewellery

A little bit about Nicky:
Nicky Townsend is the designer and creator behind Enchanted Handmade Jewellery and is renowned for her gorgeous and intricate charm bracelets. Nicky’s work can be found online at

Nicky is a regular contributor to Making Jewellery magazine and has recently begun to teach workshops at the Magick Minx Studio in Hinckley, Leicestershire. She’ll also be joining up with Beadelicious at the Nottingham Bead Fair at the Gateway Hotel on 20 November to run more of her workshops.

Blog: There is a blog page on my website but I’m shamefully bad at keeping it up to date - sorry! You can also find me on Facebook under Enchanted Handmade Jewellery, I’m much better at keeping that up to date.

How long have you been making jewellery and how did it all begin?
Although I have a design background I never really took an interest in jewellery until later on.  I left school and studied fashion design at college and then had my son at an early age so had to put my ‘career’ on hold.

My bead ‘obsession’ began around 8 years ago in 2003 whilst I was suffering with a severe bout of depression. I was working in quite a stressful job at the time as a Teaching Assistant to children with behavioural problems. At the same time my own 10 year old son was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD and OCD and my partner who had been in the army for 12 years suffered a mental breakdown. Within a very short space of time I found myself being a full time carer to my partner and was unable to cope with the added pressures of work, I was also of course trying to deal with my own depression it was then that I discovered beads…my saviour! I found that I could lose myself and clear my head for hours at a time whilst beading and creating jewellery and this became my therapeutic hobby. The hobby evolved into a full time business later on, in around 2007.

What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from colour and nature. You will usually find all kinds of insects and bugs nestling between the flowers and leaves that I like to incorporate into my pieces. My favourites are butterflies and ladybirds.

The main feature of Enchanted jewellery is the size. I create bright, bold and chunky jewellery that is made to be seen and stand out in the crowd. I’ve always had a love of colour, and seem to have a good eye for putting unusual mixes of colour together in my work, I receive lots of compliments on my use of colour.

What equipment and techniques do you use in your work?
There is no specialised equipment used in the
making of my jewellery, the only tools I use are the usual jewellery makers pliers - round nosed, chain nosed, wire cutters and crimping pliers. My favourite tool though has to be my jump ring tool! Lots of people find they can’t use them but I would definitely be lost without mine.

During the process of making one of my charm bracelets I can perform a wrapped loop on up to 100 beads! This is a technique I have now perfected and my wrapped loops are very neat,
even if I do say so myself.  I can now do this without the sore thumbs and it no longer takes me days to finish a bracelet. These 100 beads are then attached to chain with jump rings, so you can now understand why I love my jump ring tool so much :0)

Where can people learn more about your work and the workshops you offer?
I have a page on my website that is dedicated to my beading workshops which are taught at the Magick Minx Studio in Hinckley, Leicestershire. I’m currently in the process of developing some brand new workshops and the details of these will be added to the website soon. At the moment there are 3 workshops available, each being a unique Enchanted design, including the Floral Charm Bracelet which anyone can come along and learn to make. There is a section on the Magick Minx Productions website - which has full details on the Enchanted @ Magick Minx Beading Workshops.

People can also find regular projects designed by myself in Making Jewellery magazine. I’ve been a regular contributor to Making Jewellery for 2 years now and I like to design projects that are simple to create, easy enough for total beginners but just as much fun for more advanced jewellery makers.

What advice would you give to others interested in making and selling their own jewellery?
My advice to those interested in making jewellery would be to develop your own unique style. Take inspiration from around you but never copy another artists work, this is frowned upon greatly in the artistic world. Take ideas and develop them to make your very own designs, this is also much more satisfying. Experiment with colours that you would never expect to ‘go’ you’ll often be pleasantly surprised!

If you would like to sell your work some of the most important pieces of advice I can give would be to ensure you are registered as self employed with HMRC.  Lots of crafters often don’t realise that it is a legal requirement that they register. I have heard the words “but it’s only my hobby” soooo many times! It doesn’t matter - if you are making a product which you then sell, even if you are only making the money back to cover your costs, you MUST register with HMRC. If you don’t, then you are trading illegally and could face prosecution!

When selling handmade products you are required by law to have Product Liability insurance. You are also required to have Public Liability insurance when selling at craft fairs etc.

When selling online you must adhere to the Distance Selling Regulations. These are a set of rules designed to protect the consumer who are not physically present with the seller at the time of purchase.

Three words that sum you up: Just like my jewellery I’m BIG, BOLD and CHEERFUL

What makes you smile: My lovely family, especially my fantastic son who is so inspirational in the way he copes with life despite his disabilities. My 3 beautiful dogs who keep me thoroughly entertained, and the wonderful compliments I receive for my work, these mean an awful lot to me - Thank you

Monday, 15 August 2011

Wedding Blessing

Yesterday I had the chance to throw on my wedding dress and do the whole thing again as Mr C and I held a wedding blessing closer to home so that my elderly grandma's and family were able to attend and see us walk down the ailse.  We had a wonderful day again and both the grandma's really enjoyed themselves which made it all worthwhile.

A huge thank you goes to my mum yet again for all the wonderful cakes she baked for the afternoon tea we held after the service.  She out did herself so here's a couple of pics of just a few of her yummy creations.  I have never seen so many people move so quick once the cakes were all unveiled!

Mum's cakes are so delicious I thought I'd add them to the Handmade Monday list on 1st Unique Gifts blog


Friday, 12 August 2011

Funky Friday Fun

Ok, Ok  I know I have been very bad recently with posting up some Friday Fun but I'm back now and this month have a really funky little bit of fun for you.  Our large Bold and Beautiful bead necklaces went down so well I thought it'd be a good idea to share the tutorial with you all.

Please accept my apologies for the obvious mistake in the main picture, I didn't notice it till it was far too late and it was far too late in the evening to start again.  Have no fear the instructions are all correct.  Lesson learned - only one glass of vino whilst creating!!!

This project is great for beginners.

Ingredients (for the black and white design):
All beads and findings are available on our website
3 x large fabric and resin beads
6 x fabric knot beads
4 x burnt silver large holed beads
2 x 10mm jet fire polished beads
1 x 30 cm length of Tiger tail
4 x small jump rings
2 box ends
1m of microfibre suede
1 x lobster clasp1 x extension chain
2 x crimp beads

In addition you will require cutter pliers, a pair of flat nosed pliers and a pair of round nose pliers.

What To Do:
Take the piece of tiger tail and thread a crimp bead on followed by one of the jump rings.  Feed the tiger tail back through the crimp bead to form and loop and crimp to secure (Fig 1).  Trim off any excess wire (Fig 2).

Start threading on your beads starting with a jet 10mm fire polished bead, a large holed burnt silver bead, a fabric knot bead, a large resin bead, another knot bead, a large silver bead etc – continue on with this pattern as per the main picture adding the second 10mm fire-polished bead at the end (Fig 3).

Fig 3
Add a crimp bead onto the end of your tiger tail and then another large jump ring.  Bring the tiger tail wire back through the crimp bead to form a small loop and crimp to secure.  You now have your design strung onto the tiger tail with a jump ring attached to each end.

To add the cord measure the length required and trim to your requirements, please note you will require two pieces, one for each side and each piece will be doubled up.  Thread the first piece of cord through a jump ring on one end of the tiger tail and double up pulling the two ends together (Fig 4).  Add a cord end to the ends and repeat on the other side. 
Fig 4

Add a jump ring and lobster clasp to one cord end and a jump ring and extension chain to the other cord end to finish.

We hope you have fun making this necklace.  Please email us with any pictures if you make it up at and any pictures we post up on here will get a free mix bag of beads.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Handmade Monday

Well it's a bright and sunny Monday morning again and after a great Bead Soiree at Bulkinton Village Centre on Saturday I thought Handmade Monday would be a great opportunity to to show off some of our groups fab beady creations as well as our Beadelicious project idea for this month.

First of all our August project idea, the Sequins and Pearls necklace - this went down a storm on Saturday and we had some bright and beautiful colour combinations of it created.

And now some quickpics of the jewellery created on Saturday by the girls who dropped in to join us.  Apologies for the quality of the pictures, they were taken a little impromtually.  Great work though girls!

If you would like to see more handmade loveliness then why not check out Wendy's Handmade Monday posts on her blog

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Lots of New Beady Goodies

We've been off bead buying again and wanted to share with you a
sneak preview of the new gorgeous new beads we now have in stock.

We have been expanding our range of Czech glass fire-polished beads.  These to me are like Walkers Crisps.   No matter how many times I venture off to Pringles, Doritos or even posh kettle chips, I always come back to Walkers as my favourite ever and the same goes for these fabulous fire-polished beads.  They go with anything and everything but also look simply stunning on their own.  We have added various 8mm and 6mm colours to our range.

We’ve also added two new colours to our Chinese Crystal range.  These sparkling natural and lilac blue shades are good enough to eat whilst the black diamond adds a little bit of glam shimmer!!

These gorgeous Indian foil lined lentil beads are simply going down a storm.  We’ve only just loaded them onto the website and already they are going like hotcakes - so much so we had to order more in straight away.

And now for something a little different.  We’re absolutely loving these larger than life resin beads that really make a statement.  We've used these in this months Project Idea - our Bold and Beautiful necklace.

If you want to see more of our beads then please visit us at

Monday, 1 August 2011

Handmade Monday

We've been busy beading bees this weekend with two lovely Bead Soirees that took place on Friday night at Sheepy Magna Memorial Hall and on Saturday at Nuneaton Heritage Centre.  We'll be at Bulkington Village Centre this coming Saturday so if you missed out this weekend you know where to catch us next weekend. 

Here's a quick snap of one of the Project Ideas we'll be bringing with us, I had already made it using the turquoise acrylic but have been keen to use our new resin beads so I recreated a similar design using the black and white fabric encased ones which I thought would be great to showcase on the 'Handmade Monday' page of 1st Unique Gifts blog

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Launching Beadelicious Blog Spots

We’ve been mulling over how best to involve everyone into our little world at Beadelicious and have come up with the following idea.

Each month we’ll focus a Beadelicious Blog Spot on one of you and the jewellery you have designed and made using some of our Beadelicious beads.  If you have a business to promote then we’re more than happy to give you a mention too.  To take part please email us your pics plus any words you would like to say to – if your design gets featured we’ll send you a free goody bag of Beadelicious beads.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Guest Interview - Leigh Armstrong at Magick Minx

A little bit about Leigh:
Leigh is a very talented PMC Artist based in Hinckley, Leicestershire. She has her studio and Minxy HQ in the Atkins Building and can also be found online at

I can personally vouch for Leighs fab workshops having been on a couple myself - she brings masses of enthusiasm, expert knowledge and a little impromptu singing to every session she runs!

Blog: erm...busted! Ok, Ok, Ok, I’ll sort one!

How long have you been working with PMC and how did it all begin?
It all started about 7 years ago when I saw PMC demonstrated at the NEC Hobbycraft Show. Coming from a corporate background in Financial Services I was let’s say somewhat cynical about a bit of ‘clay’ turning in to a ‘precious metal’, didn’t make sense at all! I made the poor woman demonstrate it at least half a dozen times by which time I think she got fed up with me & told me to buy the kit!

In the early days I was trying to figure it all out myself but failed to understand the simple but key things you need to fully know about PMC so I wasted a small fortune, I guess that’s why I’m so passionate about Metal Clay education!

What inspires you?
Oooh lots! An awful lot of my work is Sea themed which I think comes from me spending weeks of my School holidays at my Grandparents on Hayling Island. The Sea has complete & utter power over me, I’m an addict, summer or winter, doesn’t matter to me just as long as I can hear the waves & smell the salty air!

I also do a lot of Fae work, for the Faery people! That sounds a bit bonkers doesn’t it!? I was approached by a lady who has made a Faery lifestyle choice who wanted me to make her some Jewellery that a Faery would wear & NOT Jewellery with Faeries on it! Lots of Oak leaves, acorns & tiny wee Faery Houses. Going to the Avalon Ball in Glastonbury (an annual Fae event here in the UK) was an eye opener, an education & a privilege, I got to dress up!

What equipment and techniques do you use in your work?
Well for the most part you can utilise a lot of tools that you may already have lying around the house or Craft Room such as a Scalpal, Workmat, Straws, Cookie Cutters, Texture Plates etc. The most expensive item you will need is a Butane Gas Torch & Firing Block. A good quality Jewellers Torch will set you back around £35.00. However, if you have a good ‘Kitchen’ Torch (for your Creme Brulee’s) already that may well do the job!

You can spend a small fortune on some ‘ready made’ kits that often have a whole bunch of tools that you will never use or are of a poor quality. My advice would be to take advice from someone who already uses PMC, a few good quality tools are all you need to get started & don’t buy a kit from ebay, whilst ebay is fab for lots of stuff & I’m a regular, the kits on offer are mostly terrible!

What is the difference between PMC and Art Clay?
Fundamentally they are the same thing,a Silver Precious Metal Clay, but they do work differently so you need to understand the working differences, you need exactly the same kit for both products. I suppose it is a matter of preference but I find that Artclay dries out very quickly & that there is more ‘finishing’ work required & being lazy that’s not something I’m fond of! Until recently Artclay has always been significantly cheaper but approximately 4 weeks ago their prices increased by 67% so it is no longer a cheaper option!

Where can people learn more about PMC and the workshops you offer?
Well Metal Clay has a much better presence nowadays than it did 7 years ago so you can find a lot of information on the Internet, websites such as Metal Clay Academy offer information on all things Metal Clay! Also there are some fantastic books available now.

I have a quick guide to Metal Clay on my Website, along with a photo demo & Gallery of work. In addition the website details our Workshop Diary & an explanation of each Workshops content.

What advice would you give to others interested in PMC?
GO FOR IT Of course!!! Find yourself a tutor who has been Certified & has taken the appropriate PMC Teaching courses. A Tutor that is offering Certification Classes is likely to be more experienced than most. Go & meet the person that you are looking to teach you before you sign up for a Workshop, if you are going to be spending a whole day with them then you really want to like them! Also it would help if their ‘style’ of work is one that interests you that way you are more likely to walk away with pieces you are happy with.

Also make sure that they have a well equipped Studio, I’ve heard some horror stories over the years where people have wasted a lot of money on poor training, myself included, harsh lesson to learn!

You offer tuition, what classes/workshops do you offer and what would anyone interested need to consider before starting?

We offer a wide range of classes from beginners ‘Introduction to Precious Metal Clay, The Art of Silver Alchemy’ to advanced Certification Classes. We also do project workshops: Rings, Faery House, Bronze/Copper Clay Adding colour etc etc etc. In addition we have visiting guest tutors, Nicky Townsend from Enchanted Handmade Jewellery, a regular project contributor to Making Jewellery magazine is a regular. In the future we will be having Carol Douglas aka The Creature Teacher (see and hopefully Pam East from the USA will be coming over in October to do a 3 day enamelling on Metal Clay Workshop, very exciting!!! (see

You need to consider what you are wanting from a Workshop, just to have a ‘play’? If so a Taster session would be appropriate or are you looking to ‘learn’? If so you need the Intro Workshop for starters. I have a wide range of students from all different backgrounds, some come to learn a skill that can then make them a new income or create a lifestyle change, some just want to ‘get away’ & lose themselves in something a bit different, often these people have very stressful jobs.

We offer lots of free services to Magick Minx Students & also they have the opportunity in attending our ‘Open Studio’ days which are fun, we have a bit of a community going on, lots of gossip & chat over naughty food, occasional wine & sometimes Johnny Depp comes out to play (well ok then, a life size cut out).

Three words that sum you up: Pink. Workaholic. Fun! (was going to say ‘Elle McPherson Lookalike’ but that would have been a fib!)

What makes you smile: A cupboard full of Metal Clay, Tools, Tools, Tools, Peter Kay, my Kids, remembering the 80’s, Chocolate, Sauvignon Blanc, Jason Stathem’s six-pack, my Husbands rubbish jokes, Pirates of the Caribbean films, Ironing Fairies, my Studio, The Sea, a Sausage Sarni with Fruity Brown Sauce, Mary Jaynes Fish & Chips (from Cromer), a bouquet of Flowers, my bezzie mate Vinnie, The International Jewellery Show in London (IJL, ooooh all those sparkly things!) crikey lots of stuff! I smile a lot! :0)

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Proud as a Peacock

We are very excited to have had our 'Proud as a Peacock' bracelet published in the Top 20 pages of this months Beads & Beyond magazine. The instructions on how to make it are on their website but as this bracelet has been so popular at our Bead Soirees here they are again.

What You'll Need:
1 x 30cm of 0.7mm stretch elastic
1 x wired heart pendant
4 x 8mm light jade pearls
8 x teal Chinese crystal beads
4 x 12mm jet AB fire polished beads
48 x jump rings
1 x stopper bead (contrasting colour to the main beads)

Please note this will create a small/medium bracelet. If you would like to make the bracelt larger you will require more beads.

What To Do:
1. Take your 30cm length of elastic and tie the stopper bead to one end to prevent any of your strung beads coming off.

2. Open one of your jump rings. To do this use your round nose and flat nose pliers to gently push one side of the jump ring away from you to open. Thread on the wired heart pendant and close the jump ring by using your pliers again to move the two ends back together. Set aside.

3. Next start to thread your beads onto the elastic in the following order; pearl, 3 jump rings, crystal, 3 jump rings, fire polished bead, 3 jump rings, crystal, 3 jump rings, pearl, 3 jump rings, crystal, 3 jump rings, fire polished bead, 3 jump rings, crystal, 3 jump rings, pearl etc. Add your jump ring with the wired heart on in between two of your other jump rings as your string your design on.

4. Carry on threading till you have strung all your beads and jump rings. You should end on 3 jump rings.

5. Cut off the stopper bead and tie an overhand knot 4 times in your elastic to secure and trim off any excess elastic with your cutters.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Post Holiday Blues

It's been business as usual this week after getting back from Devon but I'm suffering a serious case of post holiday (and wedding) blues.  We've booked up to go camping back at the wonderful Lobb Fields campsite again in July and I'm so excited I've even dug out the tent already much to Mr C's exasperation :o)

Let's hope its as quiet as this when we go - I very much doubt it if the sun shines!

In the mean time I've been getting stuck in with all the new ideas I had for Beadelicious whilst we were away, starting with a total clear out of Beadelicious HQ and a little DIY!  Our show sign was getting a little creased so I've manged to bang a few nails and put it up the wall instead.

I'm currently coming across lots of end of line beads during the clear out so will be putting together some Bead Soup mix bags together at bargain prices along with a Bead Soup style project idea to go with them so watch this space.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Hellooo Again!!

Hello, hello.  I apologise for being so lax on my blogging recently but a combination of beady busy-ness plus the final preparations for our wedding last week have meant that the last month or so have been a little bit hectic to say the least.  Anyway apologies for being absent and for those who might be interested in a little wedding news here’s some piccies and big thanks to all those that attended our special day and helped to bring it all together.

First a huge thank you to all my girlies and especially to Clare and Tree, my wonderful bridesmaids who have helped to keep me calm make the day very special.

Thank you to the best man and usher and for to all the boys who kept Paul out of ‘serious’ trouble and in one piece for the big day.  An extra special thanks to Dancing Daz for your surprise performance.

To all our friends and family who took the time to travel all the way down to Devon to be with us on our ‘big day’ and to Mandy for making our cake.

To our parents for getting helping us so much along the way and a super duper big thank you to my mum for all her hard work in creating the invites, bunting and decorations.

To Mr Matt Fryer – our lovely photographer for hopefully taking some fab shots (we’re due to see them very soon), for being a top impromptu bar man and all round good sport who was a pleasure to have with us on the day.

To our caterers Hazel and Ellie at Eat With Englands for really pulling it out of the bag and making sure the whole day ran like a dream – and most importantly kept everyone fed and watered and so very happy!

To the Reverend Anne Thorne for marrying us and her very welcoming ‘Dibly-ness’ approach.

And finally to the ever so lovely Mr Crook for making me his wife.  What have I let myself in for :o)!!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Guest Interview - Sally Carver

A little bit about Sally:
Sally Carver is 46, married to Adam and has an eleven year old daughter called Emily. Sally lives in Hinckley, Leicestershire but also has a shop in St Ives, Cornwall – Redhotsal at St Ives.
Sally graduated from London University with a BSc in Physics and trained as an Optical Physicist, making holograms in the Security Print Industry prior to becoming a full time bead maker and teacher.

Sally aka RedHotSal

How long have you been lampworking and how did it all begin?
I have been making lampwork glass beads for around eleven years. I have always been fascinated with glass but started out making stained glass panels as I used to renovate Victorian houses.
I had seen artisan glass beads before on a trip to Seattle but I had always assumed that they were made in factories with a substantial amount of equipment. One day I picked up Cindy Jenkins book “Making Glass Beads”. It was a revelation to find out that it was possible to make such glassy gems at home.
I could not wait to begin – I started with a plumbers torch and some glass which I had bought from Plowden and Thomson – one of the UK’s last remaining glass manufacturers. I happily played with glass on my own for a few months in my garage. It was a welcome spot of “adult time” as my daughter Emily had just been born. I used to take the baby monitor with me into the garage in the evening and enjoy an hour or so of glassy bliss!
Sally's aard winning Clover Blossom beads
A lesson with Diana East followed and I was absolutely hooked.
What inspires you?
I have not had professional artistic training and I find it quite hard to put colours together in a “tasteful” way. My instinct is to throw colours together garishly. Luckily people seem to like bright colours so that’s okay. But I sometimes want to make more “sophisticated” looking beads so I just go out window shopping. Clothes fabrics are a huge resource and a constant source of inspiration to me. I’m really enjoying the strong bold prints that are in the shops now.
I also love anything relating to the sea and love making “beach scene” beads. Having the shop in St Ives is a wonderful opportunity to see what’s happening at the sea’s edge.

Seaspray Beads
What equipment and techniques do you use in your work?
I use a Nortel Minor Burner which runs on propane and oxygen from two oxygen concentrators. I’ve used the same torch since I started. People are usually surprised that I haven’t got a huge range of tools. In fact – aside from a graphite marver (for shaping) and a stainless steel rake (for prodding and poking) everything else I have can be found in the average garage or kitchen.
Techniques for bead making are fairly straightforward; but you can make an endless variety of styles and designs by carefully picking colours and types of glass. It never fails to amaze me that there are so many different designs that can be applied to such a tiny glass canvas.
Or even IN the same glass canvas! My personal favourites are encased beads – beads where most of the decoration is inside the bead – such as encased florals or my Blossom Beads.

Where can people buy unique RedHotSal beads?
From my website – or now from my shop Redhotsal at St Ives which is one of the only shops in the UK dedicated to British made lampwork glass jewellery.
Sally's Shop in St Ives
What advice would you give to others interested in lampwork?
For buying lampwork always look for well made beads. The bead hole should be clean of powder and the holes should have a nice “pucker” – no jagged edges. Also look for clear sparkly glass. While most commercially available glass beads from China or India are not “annealed” you should always make sure that artisan glass beads have been kiln annealed. This is a process where the bead is allowed to cool very slowly under controlled conditions in a digitally controlled kiln. This ensures that the glass is stress free and less likely to break. It is essentially a strengthening process.
If you are considering taking up lampworking always follow your own style. When I started making beads there were very few people in the UK making beads and there was no pressure to reach a particular standard so it was possible to just mess around with the glass and see how it behaves. Glass bead making in the UK has grown up with the widespread use of the internet and so nowadays there are many forums dedicated to hobbies and crafts. Such forums are a wonderful resource for people – especially those new to lamp work, but at the same time it is very easy to be intimidated by the huge amount of glassy “eye candy”. Take time to just “play” with glass rather than feel you have to create a full set of beads for a necklace!

You offer tuition, what classes do you offer and what would anyone interested need to consider before starting?
I offer tuition on a one-to-one basis or small groups (up to three) at my studio in Hinckley, Leicestershire. An intensive one-to-one day course costs £160 which includes all materials. I offer discounts for groups if you want to come with a friend or two. I also sometimes teach with Diana East at her Enderby Studio. These are larger group settings in Di’s well appointed studio and are great fun.
If you are looking for a lamp work teacher your first considerations are probably cost and locality. However, do bear in mind that anyone can teach glass bead making and many people do – even if they’ve only been making beads themselves for a short while. If you are looking for a “taster” class to see if you like bead making or not this is fine – but you won’t be able to learn much in a three hour lesson. You should expect to learn about the equipment – what is available, types of kilns, torches etc. and where to get them, and most importantly how to set it all up. Health and Safety is an important consideration – as you will be using a torch which is capable of reaching 1600 C, so it is vital you know how to use it safely.
Do also make sure that your teacher has full public liability insurance and don’t be afraid to ask to see their certificate.
Also find out what torch you will be using. A hothead is a great little beginner’s torch but it is very unpleasant to have a lesson on because it is very noisy. Make sure you have full use of a torch if you are in a group situation as there is nothing more frustrating than to have to wait to make your creation.
Three words that sum you up: Bead Maker Extraordinaire!
What makes you smile: My beautiful daughter Emily and my lovely hubby Adam, especially after he built my wonderful “signal box” style studio!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Braunton Bound

Hello hello!!  I'm sorry i've been a little bit slow on the blog just lately but with only 8 weeks to go till the big day the wedding plans are starting to take over at the moment.  There's lots of beady news on the way with our first ever blog interview with the lovely Sally Carver from RedHotSal and her lovely lampies and lots of new steampunk style charms and findings coming soon but in the mean time here's a little update of what we've been up to over the last few weeks.

Firstly my fantastic mum has been beavering away making our wedding invites, bunting and all round lovely things ready for the big day.  Here's some quick pics of her hard work - thanks mum!!

Last weekend we headed down to sunny Devon with Mr C's Best Man Steve and his wife Jo.  The weather was amazing and my legs saw their first outing in a pair of shorts.  The shock of my milky white pins in the sun had me dashing for the fake tan I can tell you - I'm sure I saw a mother shield her young child's face away from the glare!!!

All in all we managed to sort flowers, church details and finalise the marquee bits and bobs so celebrated on Sunday with some chips by the Harbour and with an hour in Ilfracombes finest arcades where I have to admit the draw of the 2p machines saw 4 grown adults overcome as we battled to win the bonus (or maybe that should be booby) prize key ring that 'appeared' to be teetering by a thread on the edge. Then all of a sudden 3 came down at once.

It's all about tactics!!!!

The prize!!!  Cost = about £8 in 2ps, Satisfaction = huge YEE HAH!!

Anyway, enough from me.  The next post will be from RedHotSal aka Sally Carver

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Guest Blogger - Tracey Phillips of Bridal Designs

This month we've been really lucky to have Tracey Phillips of Bridal Design contribute to our blog. Thank you Tracey!

The perfect materials for wedding jewellery

Making your own wedding jewellery is a lovely thing to be able to do, a keepsake to hand down to future generations and of course to have the starring role in your big day. I started my own business when, after making bridal jewellery for my sisters wedding I had lots of leftover sets. I approached local wedding shops to see if they'd be interested in selling them for me and from there started the website! Anyway..I digress..

I would always suggest using the best materials you can for bridal jewellery You will probably want to wear it again afterwards or keep it for future events so it's good to make it look it's best! Whilst Czech crystal is perfectly servicable I would recommend using Swarovski crystal for your jewellery as you will get a superior finish and you'll know that all your crystals will match perfectly. Another reason is that Swarovski is used by a majority of dress designers and also on shoes etc so you know your jewellery will match your dress and accessories.

If you want pearls I would recommend either freshwater pearls or Swarovsi pearls, freshwater pearls are a natural product so of course you will find variations in colors and sizes, this gives a nice irregular look. If you want a perfect matching set of jewellery then Swarovski pearls are ideal, they are made with a base of Swarovski crystal which gives weight to the pearl, this is then multi layered with a pearl coating. Unlike natural pearls they don't discolour when exposed to sunlight or perfume and unlike other faux pearls won't flake.

I use Sterling silver wire for my designs as it is flexible but durable, easy to work with and the colour goes with any style of wedding from vintage to ultra modern . I sometimes use silver plated wire for practice pieces which is a good idea if you're not sure a design is going to work first time!

I hope this gives you a starter point for beginning to make your own or a family members wedding jewellery

Tracey Phillips

Monday, 7 March 2011

Going to the Chapel......

Well Mr Crook and I headed down to Devon on Saturday morning as we were attending a Marriage Preparation Day at the church that is marrying us down in North Devon.  We really weren't sure what to expect but had quite a fun day in the end.  Our lovely lady Vicar had chocolate biscuits on tap for us all, took us all to the pub for lunch where she got the round in.  She also put us all at ease by admitting that in her younger years she had been a teenage rebel who thought church was for weirdos!!  We had been a little nervous but the definite hint of Dibley had us relaxed in no time and we're now both looking forward to the big day.

We also had chance to check out the cottage we'll be using for the reception and our mini-moon and a lovely long walk on Saunton Sands.  Can't wait to get down there again next month!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Bring on Spring

Well the Spring buds are shooting up in the garden and we have a lovely splash of colour from the crocuses I planted round the fruit trees last year - well from the ones left after Bluebell and Tallulah decided to scratch them up after a worm hunt!!

And just in time for Spring we have these lovely mini flet flowers new in stock.  I've just uploaded them onto the website - just pop along to the 'Lets Go Shopping' page and they are in the Fabric beads section.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Handmade Monday

Ooooh this is our first go at joining in with Wendy at 1st Unique Crafts Handmade Monday.  Thank you Wendy for organising this.  You can visit her blog and also enter her blog giveaway here -

Well it was a bit of a busy weekend, I attended a chainmaille workshop on Saturday and then a trade fair at the NEC sniffing out suppliers for most of yesterday.

I'll post a quick pic of my first ever chainmaille attempt here this evening....

.... oooh and here it is, I hope you weren't expecting too much - it's my very first attempt.  It's a basic 6 in 1 pattern.  Thank you all so much for your comments - I'm hoping to get a lot more practice in to perfect this pattern plus others before adding a chainmaille workshop to our schedule late Spring.