Lampwork Jewels

Testing testing 123

TechJudith Johnston1 Comment
  • Not once but three times in the last two weeks the Internet ate my blog posts... And by Internet ate my blog posts I mean I have been dogged by both bad posting juju and operator idiocy.  This is a quick test post to see if I can buck the trend. 
Brighton Pavillion


I also want to work out if it is possible to post photos from my phone without too much carry on....


Tulips from Amsterdam or maybe Waitrose! 

Tulips from Amsterdam or maybe Waitrose! 

Fingers crossed....

Happy New Year

LifeJudith Johnston2 Comments

I have been totally flattened with a cold that went straight to my chest so I am seeing the New Year in with lots of honey and lemon, Vick's vapour rub and Benylin. I am sort of enjoying the enforced rest but I can't wait for the hacking and spluttering to stop, it's not conducive to good bead making. I was tempted to put a video of 3 grown men setting off some rather large fireworks in a very small garden on our recent non-firework night celebration but have decided to protect the identities of those involved.  I will just say it wasn't grown up or clever but it was fantastic fun and I'm looking forward to the next one already.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all, may 2015 be full of joy and magic.

Perfectionist, Me?

BeadsJudith Johnston2 Comments

Last week I had a message from a customer asking if the beads in the shop photographs were the actual beads she would receive if she bought the listing, "yes, the actual beads" I replied. Sure enough a few minutes later I heard the delightful ker-ching as my Etsy phone app notified me of the sale. I picked the beads and noticed to my horror that one of them had a slightly rough edge at the hole, not sharp and pointy but not baby butt smooth either. I messaged the customer back and offered her a refund or a re-make of the bead. She agreed to wait for me to re-make it and so I set to... I had a bad cold but I went out to the studio anyway because I didn't want to keep her waiting.

Next day I had around 8 perfectly formed but tiny red beads - way too small, damn!

That evening, chopping broccoli with the bluntest knife in Hove I sliced a large chunk out of my mandrel rolling thumb, no bead making for a couple of days.. I still had the cold but as soon as the mangled thumb was usable I went out and had another go, they were red beads so a little bit of blood wouldn't show right?

The following day beads out of the kiln -perfectly formed transparent red beads - not opaque, damn!

Tried again next day, wrong shape - damn!

The day after that and my personal favourite, right size - check, right shape - check, opaque - check... I had used orange murrini instead of red -GAH!

Finally on Tuesday I nailed it and got them posted. The customer was absolutely fantastic about having to wait but in the end I made 32 beads to match the photograph. It may seem like overkill, I could have just refunded her money but I love it when people buy my beads and I genuinely want them to be happy with them, no matter what it takes.

So the jury is out... perfectionist or just a bit nuts!

32 red lampwork glass beads

Cloak of Invisibility

LampworkJudith JohnstonComment

Lampwork floral bead with pink and orange flowers I am really struggling with Etsy at the moment and I think I'm probably done. Back in September when they announced the new search adverts I messed about with the set up. Then I read in the forums that you had to make sure that the promoted listings were de-activated other wise you could end up with a very large and entirely unexpected bill, obviously I promptly went and de-activated it all.

So imagine my joy on Saturday when I did one of my regular "lampwork bead" searches on Etsy to see what came up and found myself looking at an ad for a particularly old set of my beads. I checked the promote tab and sure enough I had been running ads since some time in September and I was completely unaware of it. Fortunately I had  the daily budget at the minimum of $1.00 per day so while the damage was substantial it could have been so much worse. I failed to realise what was going on because of the strange way the bill payments are set up on there and clearly there wasn't enough improvement in my sales to notice either.

Then, this morning I found a new tool which you can use to check the relevancy of your Etsy shop listings, i.e. if they will turn up in an Etsy search for a given search term. I currently have 116 listings and I am listing and renewing expired beads regularly so I was confident that I would have something in the first 20 pages of search results.

Well this looks very cool, I thought as I punched in my details...

Shop name: Lampworkjewels

Keyword or phrase: lampwork beads

First 20 pages in search

Imagine, if you will the expression on my face when I pulled this result

111,118 Listings Found. No Listings belong to LampworkJewels.

I had a little cry.

So to sum up... I have paid Etsy  for an ad campaign that I didn't know was running for over 2 months and despite said ad campaign, my shop has assumed the cloak of invisibility for the search term lampwork beads- WOW, just WOW!

Clearly this is all user error but the point is that Etsy now is such a behemoth that sucks up a huge amount of time, effort and now money for virtually no return. It is now impossible for very small businesses like mine to even get seen and if it's all about pulling in your own audience then surely I'm better off doing that for my own site?

I'm calling time.... I just need a little lie down first.

Lampwork Gallery 26.11.14

GalleryJudith JohnstonComment

Up to now I have really sucked at keeping any kind of records at all but  one of my main reasons for writing this blog was to keep a dated record of my beads. So as the preview of my newest beads went out to my bead bulletin subscribers I realised it was the perfect opportunity to keep the kind of visual record I wanted. All I had to do was remove the password once the preview had expired and voila! beads for all to see. So here are the beads from this weeks preview, they are nearly all sold now except for one or two that made it into my lampworkjewels shop tonight.

As you can see I wasn't kidding when I said I was on a floral bead bender.

Floral Bead Bender

LampworkJudith JohnstonComment

Handmade Coral Butterfly Bead I was going great guns last week, making lots of florals, round ones, long ones, ones with cz, ones with butterflies, red ones, blue ones, tropical ones, I was on a floral bead bender and I liked it!.. Then I got a cold... not a can't get out of bed cold but more miserable,out of sorts cold... snotty with a temperature and sore throat on top kind of a cold. By and large it is not a good idea to go and mess with molten glass and fire if you are not up to snuff but I gave it a go anyway, I really shouldn't have bothered, what a waste of glass.

What I needed was a nice bowl of home made soup so I set to with peeling and chopping. I managed to miss the broccoli and nearly took my thumb off, this was the point I decided take a message from the universe and give it up. Gloriously a cold and defective thumb don't appear to have interfered with my ability to a. crochet b.drink tea. c. eat biscuits or d. watch tv so I have been multi taking and doing all four at once and you know what? I liked that too!

This week I have a nice selection of focal beads heading for my LampworkJewels shop Thursday 27.11 at 8pm GMT.

Handmade Coral Butterfly Bead

Making Beads

LampworkJudith JohnstonComment

I have been making beads solidly since Sunday, they are mostly floral focals which can take well over 2 hours. The problem that I have when I spend 2+ hours on a single bead is it that kind of laser focus is totally exhausting, occasionally I can manage 3 in a day but usually it's only 2. This week I have been out there for four days straight and I have 5 maybe 6 beads to show for it. They don't all make final inspection because I am extremely picky thus I have a house stuffed full of beads! So, no new beads for my mailing list or LampworkJewels shop this week  but I am planning to have a nice update for next week. I need to crack on and get off t'internet and out into the studio.

If you are not on my mailing list here are a couple of beads that were bought before they made it into the shop :)

teal floral lampwork bead

Purple floral lampwork bead

Not Christmas Christmas

LifeJudith JohnstonComment

Tonight I only have a very small update for my Etsy shop Lampwork Jewels. They will go up a bit earlier than usual, around 7.30pm because I have a family dinner to attend. My brother-in-law and his family moved to Hove a few weeks ago and now they live less than a mile away, previously they lived in Moscow so it really is lovely to have them on the doorstep. My mother-in-law, Mrs J. has been staying with us this week and we have had a fantastic time, lots of meals out and family meals.

At the weekend we had a not Christmas Christmas celebration at Simon's house, there were 11 of us altogether. He had decorations up, a tree and Christmassy songs playing, we all had to buy a £5.00 gift for the lucky dip which was particularly tricky because the age range was 10-80. I bought a mini nerf gun which obviously ended up with the least appropriate guest, Mrs J.... I think she loved it! Si & Dee cooked a fantastic roast dinner with all the trimmings and then Sunday wasn't Boxing Day so we went back for cold cuts and bubble and squeak. We used to get together in November and do this when the children were small because we couldn't all get together at Christmas but haven't managed it for some time now. We all love each others company and it was so much fun, I really hope we can do it again next year.

Christmas Dinner in November

So not many new beads this week but I have plans to lock myself in the shed next week, watch this space!

teal floral lampwork bead

A walk in the park

LifeJudith JohnstonComment

So I'm up in London with Natalie who is attending an open day for a graduate scheme job. We walked around St James Park multiple times, saw swans, geese, squirrels and, rather oddly, pelicans. We watched a brass band practice for hours outside the Guards Museum (it's remembrance day on Tuesday), we walked past Buck House looking a little forlorn and back through the park before Natalie finally went to her thing. At something of a loose end for a some hours and already horribly foot sore I find myself sitting in the tiniest Starbucks imaginable, although this is London so there is probably one in a broom cupboard somewhere. Anyway I ordered  my regular decaffeinated skinny vanilla latte... OMG it's like Christmas in a cup... I have been drinking decaffeinated, skinny vanilla lattes for at least 7 years and that was just the most delicious cup of coffee ever! I hope I'm in here long enough to have another!

St James Park Fountain

Looks so peaceful but there was a right cacophony from the birds!



Bead Bulletin

InformationJudith JohnstonComment

Did you know I have an e-mail list? In order to streamline things around Bead HQ I have started updating my etsy shop Lampwork Jewels, once a week, on a Thursday at 8pm GMT, but before I list them I give my e-mail subscribers an exclusive preview.

I e-mail my Bead Bulletin subscribers on a Wednesday with a password protected page which has a preview of all the beads coming in the shop update. I include sizes and prices and the opportunity to buy the beads directly from me before they get listed on Etsy, good plan - yes?

I genuinely LOVE my subscribers so there are other member benefits as well, e.g. a discount code when you sign up plus I am currently working on a bead draw that will be around Christmas.

If you want to be in on the action sign up here ...

Bead Bulletin Mailing List


aqua lampwork glass beads

Fridays beads

LampworkJudith JohnstonComment

Friday's beads fresh from the kiln. I really love this combination of pink and purple glass. I deliberately tried not to strike the pink so some of the beads have less saturation in the pink than others. I have to say I am really pleased with how they came out. It's possible I may use these for a bracelet and pendant for myself!  

pink purple lampwork beads

Jewellery Making in Metal

JewelleryJudith JohnstonComment

Evening Class

I am taking an evening class in jewellery making in metal with Jo McDonald (check out her jewellery, it's gorgeous) at City College in Brighton. I opted for the advanced course because it was bezel setting which is something I really want to learn so that I can set my own glass lampwork cabs. Also I took a beginners 3 day workshop with Jinks McGrath  a few years ago so I have had some basic training.  Fortunately Jo is not only hugely talented but an extremely generous and patient teacher which is lucky for me because I can't remember any of my basic silver smithing plus I seem to be rather cack-handed these days.

Anyway I want to document my progress so here is the start of my very first project.

I really wanted to make something for myself and this was the perfect opportunity, I chose to make a simple sterling silver ring with a bezel set drusy.


Sterling silver ring

Silver bezel on back plate

Silver bezel (badly!) soldered onto the black plate. I am going to hopefully fix that tiny nick in the bezel (I have no idea how but I'm hoping Jo has a trick or two up her sleeve) then trim around the bezel before cleaning it all up and setting the stone.

Titanium Drusy stone

This little beauty is my stone, a 13 mm titanium drusy. It is a bit more blousey and in your face than my usual taste but I just really love it and I am so excited to get it set in my ring.

titanium druzy in bezel

I missed this weeks class owing to being under the weather but I am already looking forward to next week and I have lots of new ideas on what I'm going to make next.

Love Starbucks

CreativityJudith JohnstonComment

I'm sitting upstairs in Starbucks in Brighton waiting for Natalie with my skinny, vanilla, extra shot latte and my tablet and I can really see why people come here to work. For me there is something about the anonymity that is really conducive to plugging in to a  different stream of thought. Before I came in here I went into WH Smiths and without realising why I bought myself a carrier bag full of note books. I'm so glad I did, the napkins in here don't really cut it for taking notes and scribbled drawings, although if needs must.

It has been a long hot summer of family stuff (most of which I have loved, btw) but with no real physical or mental space for beads. I feel like the floodgates are open and a torrent of ideas have come rushing in and I need to get it all down on paper before they evaporate again.

Notepad pencil and coffee


I find myself thinking about different ideas for beads and jewellery too, somehow I seem to have struck a deeper vein of creativity. The music in here is definitely helping by taking me back to a time long forgotten, my childhood before the trouble started with my brother and booze. So far we have had Ventura Highway by America, The Pushbike song by The Mixtures, Cat Stevens Wild World and Van Morrison. I'm definitely the only one in here old enough to remember them from back in the very early 70's.

Not from the 70s but one of my favourites

Van Morrison - Steal my heart away:

Stay tuned because I'm looking forward to some new stops on the thought train.

My Favourite Beads - Floral Focals Part 1

FavouritesJudith JohnstonComment

Floral Focal Lampwork Beads


White & purple lampwork floral focal bead

I don't know if you know this but my favourite beads to make are floral so I thought I would start a series of posts about beads I love to make, starting with floral beads and continuing wherever the muse may take me...

This bead is one of the few successes I have had with a translucent white glass from CIM called Cirrus. My floral beads take a while to make, sometimes well over two hours, and the beautiful moonstone opal glasses don't behave well for that length of time. The repeated heating and cooling of the glass leads it to devitrify leaving a chalky residue which tends to spread the longer the bead is worked for. Sometimes I can clean it up by giving it a good hot heat bath at the very end but obviously a bead with lots of decoration runs the risk of melting out all the intricate details I spent the last two hours putting on. Also if the devit is under a layer of encasement glass it can seep out at the ends and crawl over the surface of the bead.

So this bead I was really happy with, a lovely cloudy white base, crisp purple flowers with cubic zirconia and not a trace of devitrification.