I’ve been busy

Hmm, mostly I’ve been thinking about blogging, usually at about 2.30am when I’ve gone to bed because I’ve run out of steam rather than will.
I had my Very First Craft Fair recently, at Troon Concert Hall. I’d been planning it for months, wondering if all the effort I was putting in was worth it, and despite the length of time I had to be prepared I was still packing things up at 2am that morning. When I arrived (with my trusty friend Linda as help for the day) I was just so happy that I’d made it, that  actually having customers seemed irelevant, and by the time we had set up, my brain had officially gone on holiday. It didn’t take long before people started drifting in, and the real fun began, I love chatting to people and being surprised by their choice of bead – I sold two that I was wearing myself, and even though one of them was a little tricky to let go of, I knew as it went away with it’s new owner, it was going to a good home where it was genuinely appreciated.

I particularly enjoyed interacting with the children who passed by, and had a selection of small beads to give away (I confess that wasn’t my initial plan but it evolved like that) so with strict instructions not to put beads in mouths, ears or noses, off they went with a little bead given with pleasure. A friend and my husband tutted at me for that, but they’re my beads and I can do what I like with them, not everything is about money. Two girls, who looked about 12 years old, stopped for a look and were especially fun, they were so on the ball that I would have happily left my table in their charge for the rest of the day. They gave me some good ideas and pointers for things they would like, so I’ve put plans in action so that I’ve got stock for my next craft fair. After the success of the day (which I pray wasn’t just beginner’s luck) I booked five more craft fairs. It’s a good feeling to go to my shed because I have to, not only because I want to. I can’t just sit on my laurels (or that other thing) there’s ‘work’ to be done.


My (our) son James came to visit recently. We were a bit slow to get to the shed for the first bead making lesson, which meant that his second session was in a hurry on his last morning, but I was glad that he knew enough to get in there and make beads. He was quite excited about a bead he made, which I had to post to him as it was still in the kiln when he left. If he’s bitten by the bug even in a small way, then I am happy. Does that make me a lampwork pusher? I don’t know. I just think it’s nice to be part of someone finding something they are fascinated by and enjoy doing.

first beads are special, they’re stepping stones

better late than never?

I loved my weekend at Towcester, and in Enderby, where I stayed. In fact, although I said I’d write about the weekend, I haven’t found it easy to begin, because some aspects of it feel too precious and private to shout about here. I was welcomed and looked after so kindly, I am still very touched by that. I doubt I can ever return what I was given by my hosts, but maybe one day I will be able to do what was done for me, for someone else.
I was delighted to swap two of my beads for one each of Sally Carver’s and Sarah Downton’s, they seemed to like my animal beads…from now on to be known as ‘Minnie-Moo’s’ according to my husband, which means that I have the option of changing the name if I want to, especially as it sounds fairly cow orientated and I haven’t even made a cow yet…but who knows, maybe I should. Perhaps I’ll call them ‘Minnie-Who’s?’ or ‘Minnie-What’s?’ – but stop! this is reminiscent of choosing band names before there is a song to sing. I love the beads I received in return, and having started a collection am now planning a driftwood hunt so that I can display them beautifully.
I’m also the proud owner of one of Diana East’s beads, the more I look at it the more impressed I am. I left a couple of mine with her, and she gave it to me in return, which meant a lot, but by then I was already a bit overwhelmed so I don’t know if it showed. You know when you meet someone and feel proper, real, heartfelt respect for them? That.
It was fab to meet people at the Flame Off, especially the FHF members, I didn’t have a FHF badge (I will next time though) so I collared people who did have one on and said ‘hi’. It was so nice to feel part of a greater movement, everyone is at a different stage in their flamework journey, and I think I was struck by both ends of the spectrum – Virginia (Madbunny) with her box of first bead treasures and then people like Dora Schubert, Sally Carver and Emma Green who are inspirational, a lot of us aspire to talent like theirs.
It was good to see total newcomers to bead making having a go on the various torches downstairs at the Flame Off, and the patience with which they were being taught what to do. The look on their faces as they take their first steps must be reward in itself for their teachers, no matter how often they hear the same questions and concerns.
I remember being so desperate to make glass beads that when I finally got to my weekend class I was in a state of anxiety for every moment that I needed to watch a demonstration. I was the only one who didn’t have equipment at home, I didn’t want to stop making beads.
The demonstrations upstairs went on all day, and were brilliantly presented on a large screen and several tv screens. The room was packed, and it wasn’t small. I learned a few new things that I hope will improve my bead making, but some techniques, like stringer control, come naturally to some – just check out Dora’s work.
There were so many people sitting in silence, just watching the demo’s – apart from the man who wasn’t silent and I felt my blood begin to boil as he talked, obviously about an important issue to him at the time, but eventually I had to move because I could hear him better than the demonstrator. Later I found myself indulging in a similar scenario and felt quite awful about it, even though I was having a lot of fun at the time. I left the room feeling as if I had been disrespectful towards the demonstrator, not only that, I missed Mike Poole at work. So, it was a case of doing the things that one judges other people for…oh to be perfect!
The Tuffnell’s made UK bead making history this year, I can’t wait to see what other events they come up with in the future, and I hope I can be part of every single one. There’s a link to their site on my links page, for some reason I can’t add one to this blog. Technology is great, when it works!
The Flame Off/Enderby glow lasted a few days, but of course eventually reality stuck it’s horrid head around the door and I’m still looking for work, which is soul destroying. I’m so busy and running over with creative ideas, I resent having to fit my round self into a square hole, but it must be done. I just need someone to trust me when I say I’ll turn up and do the work, no matter how dull. I have my bead shed to look forward to and the prospect of selling my beads (six more sold yesterday, some hadn’t even made it onto the website), that’s enough to keep me happy while I earn a more reliable income.

1st UK Flame Off Weekend

Well, I’m looking forward to blogging about the Big Event this weekend, along with many others, I have been looking forward to it for some time. I’m hoping to hook up with like minded people and get some feedback on where I’m at with my bead making, and I’m especially interested to see some well known and excellent bead makers giving demonstrations.

After last week’s crazy, obsessive time in the Shed of Destiny I decided to step back from bead making a bit, it was all getting too much. I want to be good at what I do but in pursuit of that I became hyper-critical and perfectionistic, it was so tiring! I banned myself from the shed and took photos of beads and posted them in my website shop instead, something I had meant to do for ages but always opted for making more beads, whereupon I felt bad about making beads and letting other important things slide. Ugh, it’s tough being a wilful artist! Anyway, I felt much better for the break and managed to get a better perspective on life for a few days.
Today I fired up the torch and had the pleasure of introducing a creative friend, Tako, to the process of bead making, his beads are in the kiln right now, and we have the anticipation of seeing the beads in the morning.

And here they are – Tako didn’t really think they were that good, but most bead makers would acknowledge that they’re pretty amazing for first ever beads. If I remember correctly, the bead on the right was approx 3cm high, so he’s started out big. Excellent. Shame he doesn’t have access to bead making equipment where he lives, but who knows, maybe one day…

I got my replacement phone today. Apparently this Nokia model will ‘improve’ my image. Hah!

Now I must do a bit of ironing for my trip, which is why I’m writing this, anything to avoid ironing! Actually, being overweight is quite useful at times, providing one can actually get the item on, filling out a piece of clothing with plumpness means less ironing : ) Silver linings and all that.

sunny sunday

My friend Rose was here for the weekend, she travelled up all the way from the south of England, which I appreciated. We mentioned a couple of times that I would do a bead making demo in the short time that she was here, but on Saturday it was so cold and wet (and the boiler had given up the ghost on Friday) that I wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic about it as The Shed of Destiny is a bit basic when it comes to heating. Brr!
I always worry a bit if I don’t fancy making beads, I think ‘Oh no… the passion and interest have waned, I’m a fraud…’ but I know myself well enough and the moment does comes round again, suddenly I just can’t wait to get in there and fire up.
That’s how I woke up on Sunday morning. The Shed was calling to me, and Rose and I didn’t have to run the gauntlet of a high wind between front door and Shed door (for a change) so off we went over a few puddles.
I demonstrated the making of a few beads, then Rose had a go and managed a well balanced bead, I was very pleased for her, but she wasn’t bitten by the bug (this time) and I soon found myself back in the hot seat, during which some unexpected but welcome beads emerged.
It was a real treat to make beads with such a great (and patient) friend by my side, thanks Rosie!