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Monday, May 29, 2006

We now have a Fantastic Forum!!!

I'm so happy to bring you the latest resource to UK Beaders... our brand spanking new forum!

I must say this wouldn't have been possible without the help of my wonderful fiance!

This does mean that over the next few weeks I will be fazing out use of the msn group in favour of the forum as it has so many better features for our members. Rest assured I will email all our members and keep everyone abreast of developments.

So here's to the forum! - See you there.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What Are We Doing? no. 1

What Are We Doing?

I'm hoping this will be a regular column from me. Technical difficulties have prevented me from posting sooner, but I'm aiming to make Friday my day for updates.

Some of you may know I'm in the process of getting a new bead group together in London. It's been slow. I started spreading the idea around in January of 2006, and now it's the end of May and we've only met twice! But now we're started, and it's just a matter of building momentum.

Let me start with why I'm doing this. I started beading about five years ago. I'd done a few projects before, but hadn't really thrown myself into it. When I did, I was floating on air for the first six months or so. I thought I'd really and truly found my Thing. But after a while, the first rush of adrenaline died, and I'd done many of the ideas I'd had and realised others were not going to happen for years, until I found the right tools, beads, techniques, or even vocabulary - try looking for bead caps when you don't know the name for them and don't have a local bead shop where you can ask!

I moved to London with only the beginnings of a bead education. I had no idea where more than two of the bead shops in London were, and I didn't know how to find any others. I could have asked in the two shops I did know, but they were always busy, or didn't seem willing to answer that sort of question. I slowly learned where most of the London shops were, and went to a show or two, but it was so hard to find these things that eventually I gave up and put beading on the back burner for a year or two. There were a few more knocks along the path that put me off, but that's about how it happened.

Then in January I took it up again, and as I'd recently found a very friendly bead shop, things seemed to be looking up. And I thought maybe it was time for me to start my own group, to help other beaders out there, and to encourage other people to keep trying.

If you get a group of creative people together, anything could happen. My first concern is always going to be accessibility - I want to make sure that the group can welcome anyone, at any level. I would love it if someone just happened to be walking past the shop some day while we were there, and had no idea what was in the shop, but came in and bought a strand, and sat down and joined us. "So, which end do I put the thread in again?" I'd love that. I'd also love to have someone sit down at the table and say "Oh, well, I can show you how to do that - I won first place at the BeadDreams show two years ago doing that." All abilities, and all levels of commitment will always be welcome. If you can only make it once a year, and you've only made safety-pin things with seed beads, we'd be just as happy to have you there that one time as we would to have the person who runs her own online jewelry business and never misses a meet-up. And anyone who drops by from out of town is welcome to sit down with us, too - whether you're on a daytrip from Cambridge or visiting for two weeks from Hong Kong!

I'd like it to be someplace where people would be comfortable trying new things - the stringer who's never done freeform peyote, the needle-weaver who's never tried PMC, the seedbeader who wants to try wire, the jewelry-maker who wants to try sculpture, the person who does peyote wallhangings and wants to give polymer clay a try. As I've been saying elsewhere lately, you have to ask the question.

So... WHAT are we doing? I'm still sorting that part out. I have a list of challenges and projects for us to consider trying. I hope to tell you about them in future columns, and have suggestions from other people about things they'd like to try. You never know if the next thing you try, whether it's a technique, material, tool, style, or what, will be the thing that you then love bestest in all the world forever and back. You'll never know if you don't try, and you'll never get better if you don't try again!

Do drop by Buffy's on a Thursday evening and see if we're there. 6-8pm, every other Thursday with our next meet-up scheduled for the 25th of May. You never know what we might be up to!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

New feature for the UK Beaders Shops map.

In response to recent requests I have started adding the details of studios and teachers offering classes/lessons/tuition to the map!

In future I may also be adding beading groups too, but at the moment it is proving difficult to gather the details of any established beading groups around the UK.

If you have any other suggestions for ways to utilise the maps facilities just let me know.

Known problem with site.

I recently noticed (as you may have done) that if you access the site from our lovely new domain name, most of the links when clicked on, will still display the UK Beaders site address in the address bar.

Rest assured I am working on this issue and it will be resolved as soon as I have the funding to do so.

If you want to bookmark/add to favourites any of the sites that are affected I would suggest you open a new window, and copy and paste the website address in.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

All about beading wire and crimping - article

Hello again,

In response to repeated requests for info about what wire to choose for stringing projects and how to crimp it I have produced this article for you all.

Click here to view the article

I hope you find it useful.

UK Beaders site now has it's own URL!

Just a quick update.

Just in case you missed my announcement On Friday 5th (sorry I was too busy to post here on Friday) I finally got the site it's own URL you can now visit directly at

Dont worry if you have the old address stored in your favourites it will still work. You can also now email directly too!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lampworking lesson with Mike Poole by Caroline Hannon

I have always been fascinated by handmade lampwork beads since I found my first set. I was searching for a teacher for a while when I found out that Mike was starting to teach lessons and these were the nearest I could find.

On the day I arrived at the old mill where Mike’s studio is located in the town of Todmodon, Lancashire. I was greeted by Mike, who after a brew when through a run down of what we would be doing as well as giving me a folder with the course outline in it. He told me about the health and safety aspects, and although this might not be fun, it is very essential.

He then moved onto the equipment, Mike uses a minor torch with an oxycon unit. Most newbie’s to lampwork start on a hot head and then move up to a minor torch. He went through everything from dipping the mandrels in bead realise to kilns and cleaning out the bead release once the bead had been annealed.

Then the real fun begins, Mike starts off showing how to melt the glass rods and building a basic beads. He is happy to tailor the course to suit the type of beads you want to make. After he had shown me a few beads and how to add decoration like dots it was my turn. As soon as I built my first bead, no matter how bad it was I was hooked.

At lunch time Mikes wife Su arrived with a yummy lunch, and I got to browse through a few lampworking book to get ideas, or to ask about how certain beads were made. After Lunch Mike showed me how to make lentil beads, something which I requested, then I got to make more.

He then challenged me to make a set of beads; I got to pick colours from his vast selection. Every now or then Mike or Su would get me to try two colours together to see their reactions.

Once I finished my set I sat down with Su, who showed me her collection of lampwork beads, both from British and American Lampwork Artists. Some of the work is amazing and it really inspires you to improve.

I was on a high all the way home, and 3 days later my beads arrived in the post having been annealed. If anyone wants to try lampworking I would defiantly recommend Mike as a teacher. I can’t wait to get my equipment….

Thanks Mike for starting another bead addiction