Sooz Jewels. Sue Doran's lampworking blog - handmade jewellery made with sterling silver, copper and lampworked beads. Based in Cambridge, UK.
View Article  No peeking!

I have taken a load of photographs today of all the designs I have been working on over the last couple of weeks. I have also been getting ready for my return to the Art & Craft Market in Cambridge by packing boxes etc. which means I'm now very tired so I'm just going to post one picture of the flower earrings that I mentioned a few days ago.

To see all the rest, you'll have to come to my stall tomorrow or wait til Sunday when I will have time to resize and upload them all to the website!

These earrings remind me of Pushing Daisies, I have been watching the first series on DVD this week whilst making them. When the programme came out last year, I read a review and thought it sounded good but somehow managed to miss it on TV. When I heard the second series was airing soon (starts tonight on ITV3!) I thought I'd better get up to speed!

View Article  Bead Press

I wish I had done this a few months ago when the pound was stronger. Today I have ordered a bead press from Jim Moore Glass Tools in the United States. I baulked a bit at the shipping cost of $105 but it looks like it'll be worth it.

The machine will enable me to add silver cores to big hole beads like these so that they can be used on bracelet systems like Pandora, Biagi and Love Links. Basically, you buy a chunky sterling silver chain with a robust clasp and the beads, with their big holes, fit over the chain; this enables you to vary the beads according to your mood, outfit and/or budget.

You can core these manually using annealed sterling silver tube and dapping blocks that I already have for riveting. I have wasted quite a lot of time in trying to get an efficient system going. At the moment, it takes me 45 minutes to do one and it didn't look that great. Hopefully this machine will automate the system and speed things up a bit.


View Article  Auntie May

One of my aunties died a few days ago, I didn't mention it at the time as I was coming to terms with it though obviously the loss has been on my mind whilst I've been working away at my beads and jewellery.

We went to a service of thanksgiving for her life yesterday. It was a long drive there and back down to Chichester in Sussex. This is where I was born and the only times I go back now seems to be to go to funerals.

Auntie May was a lovely lovely lady and I wished I had made more of an effort to see more of her when she was alive. Uncle Fred (Freddie as she called him) is absolutely heartbroken and stricken without her, I hurt for him.

I went to Church of England schools and so am used to hearing about God, I used to love singing hymns and carols, in fact I still do. I like to sing even though I know I'm no good at it. My family wasn't religious at all, we never went to church unless there was a wedding when I was young. Now I'm grown up, I am an atheist, I actively disbelieve in an all powerful, all seeing supernatural being such as God. But I found myself slipping into the warm comforting glove of the service and when I was saying the Lord's Prayer, I felt like I was one of those little spittle bugs which leave white foam on plants - every word became like a little bubble of protection. I found it comforting even though I don't believe - am I a hypocrit, maybe I am.

I particularly liked the words of remembrance (this is a small extract): 
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday. Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember her and only that she is gone. Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

This morning on Radio 4, there was a piece about trying to encourage more young people to go to church in Britain's most godless City (can't remember where it was now). They were appealing to people who were spiritual but not religious and for the first time, I saw that you can actually have one without the other. You don't have to be religious to be spiritual. I do like the idea of church, people looking out for each other, getting together and having a sing song and the ritual of services for life events give structure and closure, but I don't like being told I have to believe in God and Jesus and I hate the church's stance on many things like gay marriage. 

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit so all I want to say is rest in peace Auntie May, I will miss you.

View Article  The trouble with cold weather

The trouble with cold weather is that I spend altogether too much time in it!

When I am in my garden studio making beads, it's pointless having a heater on because you need very good ventilation when working with a flaming torch that is partly powered by Propane gas. All the make up air which replaces the fumes my fan takes out is therefore at the temperature outside and you're quickly cold again! Plus of course I am also outside when I am manning my market stall all day on Saturdays (I am back next week don't forget!) and also, dog walking has to occur outside. So if I add all that time together, I spend a lot of time wrapped up in the cold!

So, when it comes to taking photographs, I would prefer to be in the warm. They definitely come out better when I use natural light outside but some I took last week looked OK using DH's light box that he uses to look at transparencies. I took a load of photographs of my new designs yesterday inside but unfortunately, these are the only ones suitable for printing (see, I knew those pink bubble beads would turn out great!)

Pink handmade lampwork bubble bead bracelet with swarovski hearts and bicones Hand made lampwork pink bubblebead on a sterling silver chain Karen Hill tribe sterling silver earrings Hand made lampwork beads and swarovski crystal earrings

They have been added to the Sooz Jewels website today but many more will follow when I can nerve myself up for spending some more time outdoors with my camera.

As I am especially looking forward to showing off some very pretty floral earrings and pendants, I shall try to get this done very soon!

View Article  Tiger in lime green bubble bath

Look out for jewellery made out of my tiger beads. I actually made a batch of these in December and turned them into jewellery but with the Christmas rush, they just didn't get photographed. I sold everything that I made with them and my sister (Sandy, the one who doesn't make jewellery herself) dropped some heavy hints when she saw a pair of earrings so she got an extra pressie from Santa.

I have made some more of these today so I should have lots of them to make into jewellery.

These lime bubble beads have come out well and these will also become jewellery but these are brand new for 2009. You get the bubbles by rolling a small bead in baking soda and then encasing with another layer of glass - the heat and glass forces the baking soda to bubble up creating this great effect.

I have experimented with a very pale pink colour today and in the crystal shape instead of round. I am waiting for them to come out of the kiln to see how they turn out - if they're as lovely as I think, I will make a big batch tomorrow

View Article  New products and beads

I have added five new products to the website today all under the lampwork section.

I'm really quite excited about the colour combination of amber, turquoise and coral. The coral isn't real coral - I don't use animal products at all in my designs and the oceans of the world are under enough threat already without people making beads out of the real stuff so these are my own handmade coral coloured lampwork beads - they're really very simple to make beads just being donut shaped but such a pretty colour!

I am also thrilled with the Deep Oceans products, I also have some beads set aside for a necklace but I want to include some swarovski crystals but I don't have any in the colour that I want.  Indicolite is going to go perfectly so I have ordered some up and they should be here very soon so watch this space!

I have made some more exciting stripey coral coloured beads as you can see to the right, they are rather jazzy aren't they?

They're really more orange than coral, I have encased them using pale amber coloured glass  I picked up the tip on how to achieve this colour from Sarah Hornik's excellent E-book about colour). I have a perfect top for them to go with so I am going to have to make some into jewellery for me (as per usual!)

In fact, I've been going a bit stripey altogether this week - here are some more bead creations that are destined to have more made of them.

The organic etched ones below have already been turned into a very nice pendant and pair of earrings which I will photograph another day.



View Article  Musical beadmaking

I have been getting well into my MP3 player. I have on it all the new albums that I have either purchased myself recently or were given to me for Christmas, as well as a few golden oldies so there are about 25 different CDs on there altogether. I have the player set to auto-shuffle between album and artist and so I get a surprise with every track change.

You know how some tracks are definitely "ones for the fans" and I know I could miss them off when I copy them over but I can't be bothered with trying to remember which are my favourite so I just put them all on. Today, the player and I were totally in the groove and it played all the best tracks. I was singing along to Three Steps and Freebird by Lynyrd Skynryd and Love Song by Sarah Barreilles to name but three tracks plus all my favourites on the Soundtrack to "Once More With Feeling" from the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (OK, I know, I know ....!!!!)

Trouble is, I have no idea what I sound like and I have a feeling that I probably sing quite loudly cos I can't hear myself, DH says that whenever he asks me anything when I have the MP3 player on, I shout the answer back!

Fortunately, we only have one house which would be near enough for anyone to hear me, and then only if they happen to be in their garden (which I think unlikely this time of year). So, Sandra and Steve .... if you have happened to hear me today, sorry! (and just tell me to shut up if it happens again).

View Article  Curtains

I was very pleased with the batch of beads that came out of the kiln yesterday. I made loads of the ones on the bottom left of my blog entry on the 10th. I haven't had chance to make them up into jewellery yet though.

Today we went back to our house in Cambridge; Countryside Properties have finally given us back the keys and told us that they've done all the work they're going to. So we have been getting the house ready to rent out. We'd like to sell it but don't think we'll get a buyer so we took the keys to a letting agency and signed an agreement with them. We will continue to rent where we are until the time comes that we can sell.

So yesterday we were putting up all the curtains that we took down before we moved out. They all had to be ironed as they had got very creased up in their boxes. I was ironing them and DH was hanging them - what with the visit to the Letting Agent as well, it took most of the day to do.

The builder still hasn't done all the work to the roof that they promised or the party wall. Our surveyor has to do a final inspection which is scheduled in the next few days, that will definitely say that the roof isn't up to standard and we will then sue the builder and/or insurer (Zurich) for the money and we will do it ourselves at a time that's convenient to us and our tenant (summer will be better for roofing works). They have had our house nine and a half months to put it right - we are fed up working to their (extended) timetables. Can you believe their Construction Director, Ray Claxton, told us that the work would only take a month? (And then revised that to four months) and it ended up taking over twice that long AND they still haven't done it all!!!

Right, enough of the moaning, on with making beads this morning and jewellery this afternoon! Much happier thoughts.

View Article  January birthstone

OK, so I'm a bit late on this one, but I have just added four new garnet products to my website in time for anyone buying January gifts. Garnet is the birthstone for January and the beads I have got are a gorgeous dark dripping blood red. I am currently reading Twilight by Stephanie Meyers, which is about vampires so I guess I have blood on my mind at the moment!

View Article  New beads

I have had trouble photographing beads, I thought I got this cracked in the summer but now it's deepest winter, there just isn't enough light in the house near the window. The shutter speed is too low for hand held when I'm on arperture priority and in macro mode. This wasn't a problem in the summer but even on bright days, it's not working out for me. It's too cold to take photographs outside which is how I got round dull days in the summer so I've had to improvise with DH's lightbox which he uses to examine transparencies.

They have come out a bit shadowy, but you can see enough I think. Here are my favourites from four mornings at the torch.

I didn't manage any more than four mornings because it has been soooo cold in the studio, I could see my breath! Even though I wrapped up warm and I don't feel the cold on my top half due to proximity to the torch and kiln, the bottom half of me gets very cold. I can generally ignore it when I'm engrossed in beamaking but it takes ages to thaw out my feet when I get back in the warm of the house!

I will definitely be making more of all these beads and turning them into jewellery this coming week.

View Article  Happy New Year

I do hope you had a Happy Christmas and that your new year is starting off better than mine.

All those plans I had for new jewellery designs using PMC and new lampwork beads ... I had expected my blog to be cramful of photographs of all these new wonders by now. On New Year's Eve, I woke up with one of my two-dayer-headaches ... sigh, JUST as I was getting over that cold. I didn't see the new year in at all, I just grumped off to bed at 10pm. 

Unfortunately, DH has caught my cold (rather inevitable I suppose) and so 1 January 2009 was both of us feeling pathetic in front of the TV drinking lemsips (DH) and painkillers (me) and throwing (soft) things at the telly every time a presenter chirpily wished us a Happy New Year!

Neither of us were up for cooking - I couldn't even get into the kitchen because the fluorescent light was too bright for me with a headache. We - or rather Geoff - defrosted a pack of giant Tesco prawns, combined it with a bag of ready-washed leaf salad, cut some cherry tomatoes in half and served it with vinagrette dressing. Tasty and very healthy, but NOT the New Years Day dinner we had planned.

On the positive, all this feeling ill has curtailed my appetite for food and alcohol and I find I am lighter after Christmas than before ... this is a first and something to be very happy about!

Fortunately, I am feeling heaps better today. My sister and her boyfriend came round with our Christmas presents in the afternoon (which we missed last Sunday cos of my cold). They had this cold before Christmas so weren't bothered about catching our germs! One of our presents was a toasting fork and so we had toasted marshmallows in front of the fire which cheered Geoff up no end - I am hoping he will also feel better tomorrow.

All this illness is just a temporary set back to my glorious plans, and photographs WILL follow soon ... I promise!

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