Let fire inspire

Captivated by the magic of working with glass, Rebecca Weddell creates beautiful and unique lampwork beads and offers a range of beadmaking courses.

About the numbers

Numbers - they’re difficult things! They need working out, looking after, keeping an eye on, predicting in advance - and, dare I say it, sometimes they need justifying.

I remember a conversation with a visitor to my workshop some years ago about the price of one of my sterling silver chainmail bracelets. It was £120.

‘How long did it take you to make that?’
’About eight hours.’
’Oh, so based on that price, you’re paying yourself £15 an hour.’

We had a nice chat, and he bought something for his wife. I was glad he’d come in.

Then I had a think about the hourly rate thing. He hadn’t realised it, but there are of course lots of other things that come into my pricing. Not what I supposedly ‘pay myself’. For instance, there was over an ounce of silver in that bracelet. Plus of course I’d had it hallmarked. It was presented beautifully in a gift box.

Not only that, it costs me money to go to work. The gentleman in question was employed at a large company. He wasn’t expected to pay the rent on his office building himself, and pay for heating, lighting, power, broadband, telephone, water supply. Or the tools and equipment he needed to get his job done.

My previous workshop was a shed in my garden. My bills for it were rolled into my existing household utilities. It was of course my choice to wave goodbye to it, when I moved house and got married. My household of one became a household of two. We use our garden space for growing vegetables, and the only shed we have stores sacks of bird food, dried-out bag-ends of compost, paint tins and a whole load of nails and screws that Mr LFI might need for DIY projects at any moment.

My rented workshop is great. I can accommodate four students at a time on my range of courses. I have storage space for my stash of glass, tools, frit, enamels, tubs of bead release. The workshop is bigger than the shed I left behind, and it’s an amazing place to come to work. The only thing is, my use of this building is not free. Nor is the heating, the lighting, the power, the broadband, the telephone, the water supply. My work needs to pay for these things. I pay to go to work. In a good month I might see some of it back.

My beads are precious. They’re special, and unique. Just one artisan lampwork glass bead, surrounded by gorgeous neighbouring beads from anywhere and everywhere, is a stunning ‘wow, where did you get that?’ feature in a piece of handmade jewellery. Just one. A £2 or £3 spend. Some people buy multiples of beads, or larger sets. That’s great - but I’m happy to sell individual beads too. In fact my imminent shop update is much more geared towards the individual bead.

They’re not factory-farmed. They’re not batch-made, like cookies or cake mix. They’re made one at a time at the torch flame - an engrossing, captivating process which I absolutely love.

There is room out there for every kind of bead. There are big beads, small beads, narrow beads, wide beads, beads of wood, stone, plastic, crystal, seeds, wool, clay, resin, paper. There are beads from every country in the world, there are rare ones, common ones, machine-made in bulk ones, handmade ones, beads made by a single process and by many. There is space in the world for all of them.

I used to be taken to the toy shop as a child. There were shelves of toys I would admire from afar without wanting to spend my pocket money on them - the big big Lego sets, the big dolls, the shiny new bicycles, the basketball hoops, the toy hospital - and I loved to look at these. But I knew too just which shelves contained things for me, though - and I’d go home with a bouncy ball, or a novelty pencil sharpener, or something little that went BANG (yes, I had to hold my own with my big brother). Sometimes I would spend my money on something bigger, more expensive, rarer, prettier. And it was always a considered spend. Then it was loved, admired and played with for ages. Appreciated.

I love all of my customers - even - especially - the browsers who don’t buy. Please have a look round my website. Come and see me here at the workshop, or come to one of my events. You don’t even need to buy - that’s absolutely fine too! Thank you for looking, and for appreciating.

I’m Rebecca, at Let Fire Inspire, and I love what I do. Thank you for reading about the numbers.


The Artist's Way - a relationship

Since starting the 12-week course ‘An Artist’s Way’ I have found that I have significantly increased my production of beads at the torch flame. This means that not only am I amassing beads for my forthcoming events, but I’m almost ready to refresh my Etsy shop with new collections. It’s early days, but I’m feeling very inspired and motivated doing what essentially means going ‘back to basics’ to my love of my craft! Yes - just making beads!

‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron is a challenging course in ‘discovering and recovering your creative self’, and I’ve been enjoying working hard on the tasks over my first two weeks with the book. Readers of my last blog post will have found out about the weekly ‘Artist Date’, and I want to just share my experience of week two’s Artist Date here too.

I’ve been really looking forward to this, and today - Saturday - I seized the opportunity to walk down to the village and spend some ‘me’ time in Clara’s, the secondhand bookshop. It was busy in the village this morning, with lots of ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ and I made it into the bookshop just as it opened. Perfect!

I sort of knew what I was looking for, but sort of didn’t. I’d had a little thought about nature, and line drawings, small format, not too many words but enough to pique my interest, hardback, not too expensive - or indeed valuable, because my intention was to get my coloured pencils to it, and embark on a whole ‘artist relationship’ with it! I browsed shelves full of local history books, old Haynes manuals, cookery books, poetry books, plays and music scores, and hadn’t yet found my book.

But there it finally was, in the nature section. One of three volumes - I resisted the others - it’s ‘An Introduction to Nature 1’ by Richard Martin, illustrated by R. Stuurman. And perfect for this mild springlike spell in mid-February, Book 1 is ‘The beginning of Nature’s Year - The Trees - Birds’ Nests and Eggs - By the Lake and Pond - Frogs, Toads and Newts.’ The book, published by Blandford Press (no date evident!) is an amateur naturalist’s delight, and is set out beautifully with text, line drawings and colour illustrations.

On page 29 I learned that ‘the water flea has only one eye’.
Silver birches, so I understand, ‘give elegance to the landscape’.
And it’s heartening to know that ‘the earth provides nourishment for all Nature’.

I love this capital N for Nature - the author has given it emphasis and gravitas in its appearance as a proper noun - and rightly so, I’d say!

So, this is my book now - I chose it on my Artist Date, and I anticipate a fulfilling ongoing ‘Artist Relationship’ with it over the next days and weeks.

For my Artist Date this week I spent some time in a lovely second-hand bookshop. This is the book I came home with.

For my Artist Date this week I spent some time in a lovely second-hand bookshop. This is the book I came home with.

The illustrations are gorgeous! I’m particularly fond of blackbirds thanks to a tame one in our garden.

The illustrations are gorgeous! I’m particularly fond of blackbirds thanks to a tame one in our garden.

I’m a busy person, but I am deliberately spending more time on creativity. Yet I’m getting  more  work done as a result!

I’m a busy person, but I am deliberately spending more time on creativity. Yet I’m getting more work done as a result!

The Workshop, 8 Village Works, London Road, East Hoathly
Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 6QA
01825 840638

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