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Author Topic: AOTM July 2012 - Colette Ladley  (Read 7494 times)
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I hold with those who favor fire.
Posts: 869

I'm working on a dream...

« on: July 01, 2012, 03:11:44 AM »

Colette Ladley

I have always made things with my children, from turning Tracey Island into a Pokemon hideout to layered 3D pictures as presents for teachers, and one Christmas found a book on how to make ‘beadlings' - critters made of seed beads and wire. After I had exhausted all their potential I had boxes and boxes of seed beads left over. The next logical step was to incorporate them into jewellery which I did with a work colleague, Nan Fry. 

Treasure Craft Jewellery ( was born and is still going strong although the jewellery does tend to take a back seat these days. That was when I was formally introduced into the bead world, Newmarket Bead Fair being the first I had ever gone to. Initially we used what we could afford – cheap, imported beads, seed beads, Tibetan silver; but over time we moved into silver, gemstones and, of course, lampwork.

I’d never heard of lampwork before then, I saw examples on my online group but never realised someone actually made them by hand, or how.

One group I used to be a member of on Ebay (remember those?) had a member that was a lampworker and his studio was not far from me. I was very excited, finding someone so close to home. A weekend visit (with other group members - some of whom also took up lampworking and would be familiar names to you) led to a passion for what I had seen, but (I thought) a pipe dream. I went back time and again to watch him work and buy his seconds/fuglies.

Then we sold our house and had some equity left over.

My husband, salt of the earth and incredibly supportive, suggested investing some of that in a lampwork kit - minor, oxycon, kiln, tools and glass, and Dragonfire Glass was born.  A trip up to Driffield to see Martin Tuffnell and buy the kit, just before Christmas  2006, was a dream come true.

The conservatory in our new house was converted into a studio, which I have shared with a drum kit but is now exclusively mine, and I now have two oxycons and have (just) bought a megaminor.

My beads were initially large and I made many a focal from gravity swirling mistakes!

I tried everything, didn’t matter how advanced it was – I was going to have a go. Eventually I settled down into practising a bit more, spending every minute I could at the torch, almost an obsession. The family fit round me, the children and husband did lots of cooking & housework so I could make beads. The mad panic finally calmed down and I routinely spent approx. 15 hours a week torching.

Now it’s much less as life has got in the way but I eagerly look forward to any free afternoons and weekends and spend as much time as I can with my torch.

I had a few confidence building lessons from the group member, but didn't take a formal lesson until I did a two day course with Anouk at Tuffnell's studio last autumn. All other knowledge came from trawling Lampwork Etc, Frit Happens and lately Soda Lime Times.  I learn more by watching than reading so I spent many hours on YouTube and attended the many get-togethers that started up, along with the GBUK ones of which I am now Secretary.  I also joined British Lampwork. Shirley Giles, Trudi Doherty and I met up frequently to watch how we each worked and to pick up tips and tricks. We formed Fyrebirds to enable selling at fairs economically viable.

I have since done classes with Di East and Pati Walton.

I buy tutorials if I see a technique I'd like to learn and have a fair few in my collection, but prefer to put my own stamp on the results once I have mastered the technique.

I love looking at beads but I'm no expert on other makers other than those that catch my eye. There are several makers whose beads I seem drawn to - Amber Van Meter & Lara Lutrick because I rarely see a bead I don't like of theirs, Anouk and her skill with silver glass, Di East for her mastery of 3D, Kimberly Affleck for those beautiful seahorses & J C Herrell because I'd love to make beads like that!

I am inspired by the world around me - anywhere, everywhere. If I see a colour combination, a play of light, the beautiful sunrises on my way to work, I always wonder how I could make THAT in glass, and start dreaming up possibilities.  I don't think I have a style, I'm too impatient to try new things to concentrate on just one, but I do have my favourites that I am drawn back to.


I have been really taken with the aquarium beads of both Di East and Pati Walton and I'm currently practising the techniques involved. I also love making critters and would like to extend myself in that direction too.

My favourite bead was a clio tree on a bubbly clear background. I say was, because I managed to bash it against something and broke the tree. I plan to glue it back together.

I have little patience and like to work hot and fast so I make a lot of sets to teach myself patience and the PPP doesn’t hurt either.  I have ruined many a good bead in my hurry – bad ends, beads not quite round – but I’m learning  Grin

I am constantly trying to be consistent with silver glass; I am making undersea beads and developing a couple of ideas, so watch this space!
I have a website,, but it has been neglected of late due to other pressures. 

I plan to be more visible and to stock my website fully; I also exhibit at approx. ten bead fairs a year, with Shirley Giles, where we trade together as Fyrebirds.

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