Saturday, 31 December 2016

Favourites from 2016

I haven't posted many photos recently, and partly that's because I keep wearing the same combos over and over again! So what were some of my favourites from my new buys this year?

ACA Kreations / Endangered Trolls collaboration - I have one each of the high shine and oxidised versions launched in late September. What tickled me is they came the day before I went to Denmark - so I took them straight back to Denmark the following day for a visit.

Ohmbead's Luna / Oxidised - I adore this bead, I have both versions but it's this bangle with the oxidised Luna that is so often on my wrist. I've barely changed this since it arrived, here is a pic taken only this week, still going strong from May!

Trollbeads Twisted Bangle / Silver - as you can see below the twisted version is pretty much constantly on my wrist, I love this version of their bangle. It was only released in early September but it's a firm favourite already.

Ohmbeads Typo Beads / M - I only have the M so far, but I intend to get ARS in January to add to it.

True story,  a friend asked why I'd spelt ASS wrong, when I mentioned I needed A, R and S and another friend asked "Didn't I need an E?"... they're all obsessed, or they're trying to tell me something!  In time I also want "Born of Fire" too, and okay, okay, I want all the alphabet plus multiples!!

I do have other favourites (who only has 4??), but these have all stood out for me and either have got, or will get, a lot of wear and be going strong into 2017!

Notes from 2016 - it seems I'm still quite the bargain hunter; there were a lot of preloved and sales buys in my box!  In fact most of the new full RRP items were either very Limited Editions (buy now or forget it!) or stoppers - I seem to have bought a lot of stoppers last year!

Name wise, for 2016 a combined variety of artisan makers topped my buying list, I bought more beads and jewellery from artisans than the big name brands.  In this list I include the lovely Eske Storm, Scott Bouwens and the fabulous ACA Kreations/Endangered Trolls collaboration shown.

Second on my list, unsurprisingly, were Trollbeads, with Ohm coming a close third, plus a much lighter scattering of X Jewellery, Elfbeads, Thomas Sabo Karma and Pandora (only bracelets for the last two).

I wonder what 2017 will bring?

What were your favourite beads or buys of 2016?

Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 New Years Bead Resolutions in Review

Well hello blog! Long time no see...

I've finally got around to having a sort through my bead box, and in doing so my thoughts turned to the resolutions I made at the start of the year, how I got on with these, and that I really should get my arse in gear to tell you the results!

Making resolutions is something I've done for the last 4 years - so I really couldn't end the year without doing my annual review.

My New Year's Bead Resolutions 2016
  • To become a better beadmaker - this is a little vague and broad at the moment.  It's been spurred on by a rather unsatisfying session I had on New Years Day at the torch, where I learnt I not only can't bead and talk, but that not beadmaking for 4 weeks does make a really big difference to what I can produce!  I'm fairly sure this resolution is much more than become a more consistent beadmaker, although I'd like to do that too, along with learning a whole host of techniques that I'm spectacularly bad at, at the moment!  Perhaps this will morph into mini goals as the year progresses, we shall see!
  • To spend less in 2016 than I did in 2015 - This is my repeated bead resolution, I've actually achieved it every year, so it's not because I can't reduce my spending... and I am starting to get into the ball park of what I'd like to be spending on beads per year, not what I actually spend. So I've kept it in for another year as a reminder that I'm not quite there just yet.
  • To share more of my beadmaking journey - I've not really done this much apart from where the blog naturally crosses over with my beadmaking e.g. my Element bracelet where I wanted to make a glass set to go with my silvers.  I've been promising to do this more lately, so I'm going to set it as one of my resolutions to talk specifically about beadmaking, and learning to make glass beads, from my point of view.  As I'm writing this down, I think it might help me with No.1 too!

Okay, in no particular order... I dedicated my AtoZ to my beadmaking journey, so there were a whole 26 posts dedicated to glass.

However once the AtoZ finished that was pretty much it.  Not only for the spilling the beans about the beadmaking, but also for a lot of my blog posts and content, it's been rather sporadic for 2016!  So what happened?

Well a whole heap of things; I started going to college in April for half a day a week to learn more about glass fusing and kilnforming, I continued to make beads and fused glass and sell them via my new business and the day job got super busy.  Something had to give and that was usually the blog, and er, a lot of my social life!

For those curious about my beadmaking journey, the most updated place for information is probably the Born of Fire - facebook page (apologies for those not on Facebook), or my Born of Fire - Instagram (on occasion), or (rarely) my Born of Fire -Twitter.  The Born of Fire - website gets updated once in a blue moon when I remember... or I have to pay the fees!

To become a better beadmaker, looking back as what I was making December 2015 to what I made throughout the year, I think in many ways I did, but I also fell down the fusing rabbit hole, which was inevitable I guess given I started college in April so there were a whole load of new ideas I was trying out!

One of the best changes I made was attending Flame Off in April.  In turn this gave me the confidence to finally try some group lampworking courses which I had been too nervous to do before.

After a quick 1-1 lesson in Borosilicate to give it a go (different glass, different rules), my first course was with the lovely Marcel Rensmaag to make eyeballs!  We did make other things but it was the eyeballs I really wanted to try out.

Later in the year was a quick fire course with Ray Skene.  This really boosed my confidence and I learnt a whole host of new tricks, my favourite make from the day was my leaf pendant!

Finally on to the money, to spend less in 2016 than I did in 2015. In spite of a trip to Denmark, where I had a lovely splurge on Trollbeads and Eske Storm Jewellery, I managed it!  By quite a considerable margin actually, my spending on jewellery is finally coming down to something I consider more reasonable for a jewellery addict - although it's probably still a lot by "normal" standards of course!

All things considered I think I did okay on the 2016 resolutions.

What did you get up to this year that was different to last year?
Or did you want to do more of the same as it was so good?

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Earlier this month I packed my bags, a few beads and got on a plane.

Endangered Trolls / ACA Kreations Trolls

It's a trip I've been longing to do for some time and a few chance conversations on the Internet (don't you just love the ones that lead to adventure) and one emergency Passport Application later... I was in Copenhagen!

The timing couldn't have been better, Tivoli Gardens, the world's second-oldest operating amusement park in the world (the first one is in Denmark too in case you were curious) had just opened up for Halloween 2016, a long time after first opening it's gates in August 1843!

Now I must confess; Trollbeads is the reason I'd even heard of Tivoli in the first place...  However my longing to go to Copenhagen had way surpassed my love of Danish Jewellery quite some time ago - the more I read, the more I wanted to visit.

There is only so much one can accomplish in 72 hours across 4 days, however Tivoli was right up there on my list.

I'm not a fan of rides, but I love wandering around fairs and one permanently set in the middle of a city, with extensive gardens and an unending supply of Glogg to take the edge off an October Denmark chill was just the ticket.

I spread my visits across two days, one with friends during late afternoon to early evening, and one at night so I could indulge my photo habit at leisure.

The decorations for the seasonal opening for mid-October to early November are beautiful, it's definitely worth having a look at the gardens during the day, and then a visit at night to appreciate how beautiful it is when it's all lit up.

Trollbeads aficionados will no doubt be disappointed by the closing of the Tivoli Flagship Store, (it now sells nuts), however I recommend you don't skip Tivoli Gardens on any shopping trips; you'll be missing out otherwise!

I love spontaneous trips, I love the adventure of something last minute!
Are you a planner or a "Let's go!" "When?" "How about next week?" person?

Monday, 5 September 2016

#HullBloggersMeet at Liquid Jade

Well it's one of those rare times when I don't talk about jewellery, well not much anyway!

As regular readers will know I don't do many *traditional* Blogger type things, but I do love the #HullBloggers and from time to time I get the opportunity to meet up with them and chat about all things bloggy.

It wasn't a hard decision about whether to attend or not, as they were meeting at one of my freshly discovered, new favourite places to have a pot of tea and a bite to eat.  To be honest they could have been talking about "insert random thing I'm not interested in" and the mere mention of Liquid Jade would have persuaded me to come out on a Sunday!

My arrival was a little trickier than I'd anticipated due to the wonderful Freedom Festival being held on the same weekend, as several of the entrance gates were locked off for the festival, a bit of texting to Courtney from Retro and Thrift to find out how to get in soon sorted that one out.

On arrival it was straight to the counter to put in my usual order of Earl Grey and choose something to eat, I'm afraid you'll have to imagine the wonderful teacake with butter and jam as I ate it before photographing it... you can see why I don't do a lot of the traditional bloggy things - Photos before drinking and eating anything is probably #Blogger Rule No.1... not that I've ever bothered with the #Blogger Rules so hopefully you'll forgive me!

Courtney (Retro and Thrift), Hannah from Ha-pea-days and Charley from Charley Lucy had organised an agenda for the afternoon and some fun things for us to do, so we spent a lovely time catching up, making new friends and working on our Bucket Lists! Oh and drinking lots and lots of tea, eating cake and having lovely coffee (mocha for me in case you were curious)... all of which I also forgot to take photos of!

One of our bucket list items was to take a photo of your favourite bit of your outfit, well for me that was a no-brainer...

As much as I love my new flowery t-shirt, it has to be my Eske Storn Dragon Claw on a Trollbeads Silver Bangle, and my Ohmbeads Dark Luna on a Trollbeads Copper Bangle.

We did some mini Blogger workshops and Emma from The Pin Picker is my new hero for showing me how to link my two Instagram Accounts.  It's been a bugbear of mine for months, and I hadn't even realised Instagram had allowed that as a new option back in February.  I *always* learn something I didn't know at a Blogger Meet, thanks Emma!

Time for the raffle, and here I know I was on a lucky streak!  3 perfect prizes, vintage shopping event this week with Poor Boy Boutique, Prosecco from the lovely Liquid Jade, our venue for the afternoon and tons of hair care products from Paul Mitchell UK for my tons of hair!

However the best reaction has to go to Jenny from Curious Alice Loves who won the Nanshy make up brushes and I'm still smiling at her excited squeal of delight!

I was really delighted that the organisation we were raising money for was the Purple House, and that #HullBloggers were also organising donations for those that were able to help in a practical way too. It's a fab place and I'm stoked to see how it's developed 16 plus years later, especially given I'm old enough to remember it starting out, *a'hem*.

The afternoon was rapidly coming to a close and soon it was time to say our goodbyes and pick up our event goody bags.  

One thing I have planned as a result is I'm off to Tessies to spend my gift voucher and say thank you for the fun fashion rings!  Hmm, busy week if I'm going to Poor Boy Boutique too!!  I especially love my Hull Bloggers tote bag - which came in super handy immediately as I somehow had to get all my lovely prizes back to the car.

Thanks so much to everyone involved in the planning and to those for making the event such a lovely afternoon, I wandered off to sample a bit of the Freedom Festival, popped in to see my lovely friends at Oresome Gallery and then had a mad dash around a supermarket before it closed... well it can't all be glamorous now can it?

Mars xx

What's  your favourite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

Please note: All brands involved who supplied items for the raffle and/or our goody bags, did so free of charge with no obligations; all food and drink consumed at Liquid Jade was paid for by the Bloggers attending.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Budgets and Decisions... and a pre-order discount!

Bank Holiday Weekend in the UK and I have a rather sedate time planned.  

The weather is somewhat grey today, and as I had unexpected expensive expenses this month (as both my car and my fridge/freezer needed repairs and replacement respectively) - you can imagine some online shopping for beads with my budget next month seems super exciting by comparison!

I've actually been really good over the last few months and have been underspending my budget which is practically unheard of, plus it means I have a bit extra to spend for September.

So what to choose? 

As a fan of Ohm's Bead of the Month I've been given a break as I was less keen on August and September's offerings, lovely charms just not for me!  The new Trollbeads release is ready for pre-orders for September delivery and X Jewellery have just released details of their new collection, oh, and I did rather like the new Thomas Sabo Karma release and it's not long before details will emerge on Redbalifrog's next release, Enchanted Glade.  Plus at the end of next month it's Endangered Trolls first release partnered with the fabulous Alex of ACA Kreations. 

I was going to wait to see what Redbalifrog had to offer, and I definitely wanted a Troll from Endangered Trolls and Alex's collaboration, so I thought my spending would be at the end of September... but I have been tempted down a different path a bit earlier than planned.

New twisted bangles in silver and copper from Trollbeads - release date 9th September 2016

Trollbeads 15% off Bank Holiday Weekend deal via Acotis, who are offering the 15% on new pre-orders as well as existing collection, spend over £100 and you can throw in a free travel case too!  

I had to stop at just Trollbeads as they are offering the deal across all brands!!

My choice?  One of each of the new twisted bangles and lots of stoppers are on order... I still can't get them until September but it will be something to look forward to next month!

What's tempting you at the moment?

Monday, 1 August 2016

Mediterranean Sea Bracelet

It's been a while since I've posted a completely new bracelet; so let's have one full of beads I've not mentioned before to make up for it!

Mediterranean Sea Bracelet

I love this bracelet, I've not rearranged it since I first put it together so it's stayed pretty much as it was when the beads arrived.  The silvers were inspired by the Mediterranean Sea, the artist behind the collection which is called the Mediterranean Dream Collection says:

"...the history, the influences from different cultures which were often told by artifacts archeologists had found. But I also love the animals who live here and who create a paradise for divers. All these sunny and happy memories and things I have seen in the surroundings are coming back in this collection. I hope you will love them and may bring vacation around your wrist or neck..."

For me, it does exactly that.  I love the Med and this reminds me of many lovely holidays I've taken over the years.

The silver beads are Turtle in Egg, Neptune, Atlantis and Amphora, the lock is by Trollbeads and I'm wearing these on a Trollbeads chain.

The beads are beautifully detailed, I love how Atlantis has the chain threaded through and looks like two different beads depending on whether you see it from the front or the back, the turtle is delightful, I have quite a few turtle beads but this one is definitely my favourite.

Neptune has a tail which fans up his back and the Amphora bead has a small hollow like a real Amphora, atlhough it's still a very weighty bead!  I've even heard of some people filling it with something sentimental and having it "capped off" by a jeweller.

The glass is by artist Gea Hines, I had to track her down after I'd seen some small hole beads she'd made that looked like sunlight on water.  I asked if she would be able to make something similar as a big hole bead (so they would fit onto my bracelet chains), and once she confirmed that was possible; I ordered 10 of these to be made especially and I'm delighted with the results!

I may at some point be tempted to core these with silver myself, but for now I'm leaving them naked as it's such a pretty look.

I love the Mediterranean, what are some of your favourite places?

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Happy 4th Birthday!

I almost missed my blog birthday again!

I feel like a very neglectful blog mother.

It's not that I don't love my first born (the blog, I'm not actually neglecting any human children), it's just that I seem to have acquired a whole brood and it's hard to devote enough quality time to all of them at the moment.

They are all latchkey kids by necessity right now, which I try (and often fail) not to feel guilty about, which is crazy... as I'm under no obligation to look after them at all, but my first born, well she's special - and she is a she for some reason.

So baby, Happy 4th Birthday, you're always in my thoughts even if I don't make it home in time to write you a bedtime story these days.

Help me share the guilt...
What would you love to devote more time to that you're not at the moment?

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Meeting myself coming back...

I don't think anyone would be surprised if I mentioned I was a wee bit busy at the moment... it seems to be just what I do these days rather than being anything out of the ordinary!  It does make blogging a tad difficult though... loads of content, not enough time to write about it!

I did almost meet myself coming back at the end of the month due to two epic trips - of the travel kind not the oops accident kind thankfully.

The first trip went without a hitch and a marvellous time was had by all, but the second, which although last minute, should have been relatively straight forward... turned into a large saga.  I don't mind, as I often think some things happen for a reason, and it led to a chance conversation as I was somewhere I wouldn't normally be at that time... which led to another conservation which I had no idea was even possible, which, if any of it goes to plan (ha!), could lead to some exciting opportunities next year - so it's had a very interesting, but totally not expected outcome... nor anything I could have possibly imagined...

...and yes, that will remain cryptic for quite some time, but when I can eventually tell you about it, whether it happens or not, I'll remind you of this post!

In other news, I have been steadily buying bits and pieces, however, unbelievably I'm well on target for my New Year's Bead Resolution of spending less, go me!  Yay for preloved beads, lovely artisan makers and sales with HUGE discounts!

There have been a lot of Skeletons turning up; on X links, bone beads and full skeletons, not THE skeleton though before anyone gets too excited.  I've been a very happy bunny to have so many arrive!  I haven't taken many photos (bad Mars) so I'll just tease you with these two, the X link and the Bone Bead which is my new favourite bead.

One of my big treats was via a sale.  I added the Trollbeads Amethyst and Malachite Fantasy Necklaces to my collection; I'm ashamed to say that after waiting so long for an opportunity to buy them during a sale I've not done much with them... it's the whole meeting myself coming back effect.

I've indulged in some of the new Trollbeads Spacers, or new stoppers, but more on those another day... and I've even bought myself a Pandora Bracelet, well ordered it at least!

Yep, all of this in the last 6 months and I'm still on track, I can barely believe it myself!

What has surprised you this year?
Do you think I'll blow my "half year" budget in the last 2 weeks of the month?!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Luna - OHM Bead of the Month - May 2016

Well now that I've drank my tea and cleared the table I use for photos, it's time to tell you about the splendid May offering from OHM Beads.

Only 555 released worldwide, in 2 versions, 455 in a light silver oxidation and just 100 in a dark silver oxidation.  Everyone, bead fans and retailers alike didn't know which version was in which box as they all came sealed in a space style package.

Crazy stuff - my first Luna was one of the 100 Dark Lunas!

After the beads starting arriving in their new homes, OHM Beads via Social Media said they would share a fun fact about the Dark Lunas if more than 10 people posted their Dark Luna pics.

They revealed that EACH one of the 100 Dark Lunas is actually unique and truly one of a kind, as there are small differences in the craters on the surface,  This was not only unexpected but really blew me away!

I have to confess here, that secretly, I'd been hoping for one of the more common light silver Lunas. 

As genuinely excited as I was to have a dark Luna, I mean who doesn't love a rare Limited Edition, from wearing my jewellery everyday point of view, I knew I'd get more wear from the light silver version.

Another collector pointed out I'd be swamped by people wanting to swap... however I really didn't want to let my Dark Luna go, just because I'd get more day to day wear from a light silver one, didn't mean I wanted to give up this one.

However, now they were sold out everywhere!

Here's where I got crazy lucky for the second time; a case of right time, right place.  One online retailer hadn't taken pre-orders as they were away, and they came back after release day and had a few left.  I checked, they were sold out (no surprise there) then they said they hadn't sold out, it was just their website uploading slowly!

I ordered and I got one of the few remaining, now I was holding my breath for this to arrive in the hope it was a light silver one!

But alas!  The shop had put a wrong number on my address...

...however my regular postie realised this, and after an extensive discussion with my neighbour (I wasn't in), put the package through my door anyway - I owe that postie a few pints!!

By now I knew that Dark Lunas came in white boxes, and Light Lunas came in black boxes... so opening up was just as exciting but also a bit tense; did I have a white or a black box inside my moon sample package?

Yay it was a little black box with a lovely light silver oxidised Luna within!

I really can't believe how lucky I've been with the whole Luna release, not only to have a dark one with my first order, but to find a second available after everywhere had sold out, for the postie to take a chance and for it to be silver too. Wow!

I'm one very happy, very lucky Mars!

So what did I do with them once I'd got them... Silver Luna went straight on to a necklace.

I love this bead, the detailing in the light oxidation is wonderful, and it may swing the balance to me ordering the OHM necklace that's designed so you can wear your RAWR skulls or your Luna bead vertically, as I think I would get a lot of use out of one - but as I'm spent up that'll have to wait for now.

With the Dark Luna, I wasn't sure how to wear it at first.  I tried several cominations using Trollbeads Fantasy Necklaces, but I wasn't 100% happy with how it was sitting (yep another vote for the OHM necklace) so I moved onto my bangles.

My copper bangle was the first one to hand; I really like the contrast between the two metals.  After dismantling a Fantasy Necklace to retrieve a pair of silver beads, I finished off with the new(ish) Trollbeads oxidised stoppers and voila!

I think Dark Luna is better in real life than how it photographs sometimes, the pic on my wrist is more true to the colour and finish - as some of the other photos make it look a bit dull.

So there you have it, two Luna beads, one of each, and a new bangle and necklace to wear, that'll do nicely!

Which would you prefer; the light silver or the heavily oxidised LUNA?
What do you think of the blind ordering method?

Saturday, 21 May 2016

There's still some more tea in the pot...

I should be writing this whilst overlooking some lovely East Yorkshire countryside.

The campsite was duly booked, plans made, and then we looked at the weather forecast...

Now weather is not the biggest consideration when you have a bus, she's watertight, has a fire on board and a kettle which is pretty much all I need for a good time (oh how times change) but it was set to rain, and rain hard, all with a bit of blustery wind thrown in for good measure, all weekend, so campsite has been duly unbooked and plans unmade.

Instead I have been tackling the kiln excess problem (long story), the mountain of washing up (there's only 2 of us - where does it all come from?), the clothes washing pile I've been deliberately ignoring since I got back from Wales mid-week and I'm currently trying to uncover the dining room table...

I know the table is in the dining room somewhere, it's one of two, but it seems to have got buried under a pile of bead debris and spun facts about whether the UK should stay or go, and despite how much I think it, The Clash do not mysteriously come on the radio at this point - although in fairness I don't have the radio on, so if they did I might have a mild freak out.

I don't really "do" housework, it's something I ignore until either I physically can't move around the house or we have guests due!

Now that I've partially uncovered the relic that is our dining room table, I've been able to take a step back and consider the last few months of bead purchases.  It's been steady but relatively sane, a few sales items from Trollbeads, some preloved pieces from both unknown artisans and X Jewellery and TWO lovely Luna's from Ohm's Bead of the Month from May, lucky me as I got one dark and one silver!

I'm just waiting for one package at the moment, a quartet of some of the new Trollbeads Spacers, as despite thinking I was all spent up, I really couldn't resist ordering.

I can't show you any photos of these yet, that would involve uncovering the 2nd table near the window (my photo table) - which is now harbouring some of the overspill from the 1st table.  You'll just have to imagine them for now, but it's okay, there's still some more tea in the pot... I might be able to clear it in time for tomorrow!

Monday, 9 May 2016

2016 A to Z Reflections Post

Another A to Z Challenge is over and what did I think?
I'm so glad I decided to join in at the last minute!!
I was still dithering right up to the last few days; but I have to thank Tracy at Black Boots Long Legs and SENCO Cat Herder at Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace for their encouragement - it definitely helped tip the scales towards putting my name down.

I think Blogger to Blogger encouragement and support is an integral part of the Challenge, and that is plentiful from the A to Z Challenge, whether it's your first time or your seventh - or your third in my case.

What did I enjoy the most?
With all 3 Challenges, it's been the discovery of new blogs, writers or themes, catching up with old friends, the making of new ones and learning about different worlds, both real and imaginary.

My own handmade glass beads - photo courtesy of Born Of Fire

It was also getting over (some of) my fear of talking about my own work.  I normally write about what other people make that I like.  Showing my own work and writing about it feels very different, I have dithered about properly coming out of my bead making closet, especially opening the door into Curling Stones.  Now that I have done this, and the world hasn't imploded, I feel really good; although the temptation to scuttle back into the closet is quite strong!

I always enjoy the conversations I have on Curling Stones with people, it one of my favourite aspects of blogging and it usually offers a different perspective.  This can directly affect what I write (especially if I'm writing on the fly, as I did for this year's challenge) and I love that interaction - I did my G post based on an idea from a conversation I had on my A post comments!

What did I enjoy the least?
Lack of Time - I wish I'd been more prepared with my own writing in order to spend more time blog hopping; I felt guilty that I didn't visit as many blogs compared to previous years.

I simply ran out of time on many days to get around all the blogs I wanted to.  In fairness I did know this would be the case before I started; it was one of the reasons I almost didn't take part.

What did surprise me is that apart from Q, which was a bit close to the wire, there was no danger that any post would be late, as I managed to keep on top of the writing all month.  Keeping up all the way through has taken it's toll, since the challenge finished I haven't done a thing, either writing or making glass beads as I'm still catching up with myself!

If you only read one more A to Z Challenge Blog from start to finish...
I enjoyed many of the blogs I found over the course of April but the one I couldn't wait to get to every day was Sophie's Thoughts and Fumbles.

Photo courtesy of Sophie's Thoughts and Fumbles

Sophie wrote her A to Z Murder Mystery letter by letter and I was gripped from Day 1!  I've pointed the link to her A post so you don't accidentally come across any spoilers prematurely, although it was written so that you could join in mid-theme and not need to reread any earlier posts as the catch up notes were excellent!

A-Z Team - I don't have any suggestions for improvements, the team seemed to be keeping on top of the lists, visiting blogs and removing those that weren't participating as the list shrank quite a bit during the challenge.  I'm very curious about the A to Z lite experiment that I stumbled upon closer to the end of the challenge and how that might work running alongside the main challenge?

My feedback to other participants:
  • When leaving comments please leave an A to Z blog link, or at least your blog name.  On a few occasions I had to give up trying to find out if you had an A to Z blog as I kept finding dead ends.
  • Please consider tidying up your blog layout for the challenge, sometimes it was hard to find the A to Z posts, or figure out if you were taking part or not
  • If I have to log in via my Facebook Account, or any other social media platform I have locked down for privacy, or sign up to a new commenting system in order to leave a comment, I will not be commenting, sorry!  I will try and find a way, but if it's not easy I will end up leaving - sad that I couldn't let you know I'd been and enjoyed your post.
  • This year I came across very few blogs that had CAPTCHA still turned on, so I think that message is really getting through about turning it off for the challenge.  During the A to Z I have to be a lot more vigilant in catching spam comments myself, but I think I managed to delete them all quite quickly!

I would definitely encourage other bloggers to join in next year, it's great fun even though it's a challenge and it can be tough to keep it up, or in my case recover after you have kept up!

Especially if like me you hadn't prepped beforehand and you disappear off to F and have 4 days away in U during L to O - Confused? You'll have to read F and U to figure that one out!

View from the bus this weekend

It's rather ironic that the book to finish on my kindle this weekend was a find from the A to Z Challenge, picked from a Z post by Kathleen Valentine about her characters Zeke and Gabe from her novel Each Angel Burns - and yes I do recommend you go pick up a copy!

Do you have any tips to share with me
to improve my own A to Z experience
and / or navigation of my/your blog?

P.S. If you want to get involved and write your own *Reflections Post, all the blogs taking part are here. The A to Z team are interested in your views, whether you wrote and finished, wrote and stopped, or just read the A to Z!  The list is open from now until Friday.

*As long as it's about the A to Z this year, if it's not, or spammy, the link will be deleted.

Here's a quick reference link to all my A to Z posts below - ignore, enjoy, revisit or just marvel that it all got finished considering I only decided to join the party at the last possible minute!

My Glass Beadmaking Journey by Mars

A is for Addiction & Adventures

B is for my Beads, Business Cards and a Bead Tester Group

C is for Coring

D is for Diddys

E is for Experimentation and Errors

F is for Flame Off

G is for Glass

H is for Hat

I is for Inspiration

J is for Jewellery

K is for Kiln

L is for Lessons

M is for Mandrels

N is for Naming

O is for Oxygen Concentrator

P is for Passing The Flame

Q is for Quality Control

R is for Rod Storage

S is for Silver

T is for Torch (and how to POOP)

U is for Uttoxeter

V is for Ventilation

W is for Website

X is for X-rated!

Y is for YouTube

Z is for ZigZag Razor

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z is for ZigZag Razor

I have a razor tool that lets me create a ZigZag shape in the glass, it's a wavy razor that I use to "cut" into the glass whilst it's very soft, almost molten, to make patterns.

Razor tools are probably one of my favourite tools to use in glass, I have 3!

On this bead, I've used the zigzag tool to create one type of effect - a pattern beneath transparent glass that you can almost see through into the layers.  You can use the tool in a number of ways; but this is one of my favourites!

Well dear readers and A to Z visitors - this is the last of my A to Z posts on My Glass Beadmaking Journey - I hope you've enjoyed a peek into my own glassy world!

Mars xx

P.S. This is also the 400th post on Curling Stones for Lego People, at the 100ths I tend to mark the occasion by writing something a bit more personal or special in some way... so it feels very fitting that this one marks my story to you about my own glass journey from A to Z.

Now we are at the end of the A to Z challenge, and as always I'm off for some Zzzzz's... that is if I can get over my Beadsomnia...

What will you do next, now the A to Z Challenge is finished?

P.S. Don't forget to come back for the A to Z Reflections Post on 9th May!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Y is for YouTube

When you're trying to teach yourself YouTube can be your friend, there are lots of glass beadmaking videos on YouTube, some more helpful than others, but in the absence of lessons every week it can be a great resource.

This is an hour long video so I'm not suggesting you watch it, it's just one that really interested me and goes into a LOT of detail!

The bead is quite spectacular, so after all my "simple" beads I thought I'd contrast this with one that takes a lot more time and skill to make!

What resources have you used to teach yourself a skill in the absence of a teacher?

Thursday, 28 April 2016

X is for X-rated!

Actually not really but a few people thought these two beads bore a passing resemblance to something else... Things I didn't intend to make as part of My Glass Beadmaking Journey.

The pink bead came first, I was trying to recreate a drop pendant type bead and twisted the end to make a spiral of translucent purple colours, only it kept springing back to form a head...

The black bead started life as normal shaped bead that was going to have a silver star on it... only the star "sunk" into the glass and it's shape developed as I was trying to pull it off to release the star... the star is still buried in the bead somewhere, near the tip I think...

Have you ever accidentally created anything X-rated?

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W is for Website

When I started making beads, and had chosen a studio name to make under... I bought my Domain Name immediately - see N for that particular story, more to secure it rather than with any thought about doing something with it.

After all, I wasn't 100% sure about having a website; it's just me making some beads and would there really be any worthwhile content to justify it?

Very recently I randomly bumped into someone who I'd first met last Summer, we had had a fabulous conversation about art and creating things, and she had really inspired me at the time.  I haven't seen her since, until last month - when we continued with our conversation as if the intervening 7 months hadn't happened... that second conversation inspired me to come home and finish the website.

Now, whenever I chat with someone about making my own beads and they invariably ask the question "Do you have a Website?" now I can finally answer - Yes! it's here...

I wonder what will happen if I bump into her a third time?

Have you had a random meeting with someone
that's inspired you to do/finish something?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

V is for Ventilation

Lots of bead making processes create some nasty fumes and dangerous dusts.

Ventilation needs to be a bit more than just having a window open at the time, beadmakers can be like anyone else and be a bit naughty sometimes but there's quite a few nasties to consider when it comes to your lungs!

I have a big hood set up which sits behind my flame and is attached via tubing to a fan (like you'd find in your bathroom) and then more tubing which vents outside.  You need to make sure you have a fresh supply of air coming in, and that your ventilation system is removing what's inside to outside.

I certainly notice the difference if I don't vent when I'm working with silver, my chest gets tight and I can "feel" the difference after a relatively short session.

I've avoided working with enamels as the set up I have doesn't really allow for using fine powders regularly - as the studio spaces have other people working in them and fine powder really is nasty for your lungs (definite mask on at ALL times as well as ventilation), such a shame as I saw some great beads made at Flame Off using enamels... one day!

Is there anything you'd like to try,
but haven't because of Health and Safety?