Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Penguins and Tutorial Talk

The first critter bead I made was a penguin. I had happened upon the Bead Envy website by Emma Green, and lo and behold - there was a lampwork penguin tutorial. I had not planned on making critter beads. My grand plan was to create beautiful, sophisticated beads for jewelry. But when I saw this tutorial for Plop the Penguin I knew I had to give it a try. Emma's tutorial is wonderful - it explains in full detail what to do and in what order - which is very important with sculptural beads. A penguin bead was bigger than anything I had made up until then, and at first I had some trouble keeping the entire bead hot. Sadly, some of my penguins lost a wing or two. But that first penguin I made, which resembled a penguin enough for my kids to recognize it, was all it took. I was hooked. I made penguin after penguin, with distorted heads and broken wings and eyeballs that melted together. But I didn't care - to me, they were the most fun I'd had at the torch yet. So I moved on to Emma's Cow Head Tutorial. The cow head was much trickier for me, but I kept at it. I was so grateful to have these steps outlined so beautifully and easily for me. My penguin and cow beads don't look like they used to, but they also don't look like Emma's. I took her instruction, and as they say on American Idol, "made it my own" - which is how it should be.

If you are a lampworker who would like to give critter beads a try, I highly recommend the tutorials on Bead Envy. If you are a collector of critter beads, I urge you to check out Emma's creations ~ they're just wonderful!

I would love to write a bead tutorial. I'm thinking about doing one for turtles, because I think those would be a good place to start for the aspiring critter bead artists (I know you're out there!). My turtle beads are basic, round beads with layered spots - just add the face, feet, toes and tail and voila! It's a turtle.

Here are a bunch of my original penguin beads - they now live in my daughters' bead boxes.

Penguin in a Pom Pom Hat - see how they've evolved? They even wear hats now!

I'd love to hear from lampworkers - do you use tutorials? Have you tried a critter bead tutorial? Would a turtle tutorial (a turtle toot) be something you'd be interested in?


  1. I'm serious about you teaching a class here for us in Westmont, IL....are you ready for me to put a feeler out to our lampworking students?

    TLD Design Center & Gallery

  2. How fun to see your progression! Everyone has to start somewhere and practice makes perfect. I'd love to try making lampwork beads only I'm clumsy in a dangerous way so I'll just stand back and admire. P.S I love your penguins!

  3. Wow Lauren, you blogged about me :-D Thanks hun! I'm very proud of your penguins. I love to see how people take a critter and make it their own. Good job :-) I look forward to having a go at your tutorial.....have you wrote it yet?...How about now? Did you do it yet ;-) Come on peeps are waiting here!
    love Emma xx p.s I will finish the cow body toot very soon promise

  4. I'm not a lampworker ...I'm just a HUGE fan of your work. I love that you shared this...it's true everyone has to start somewhere and it's amazing to see where you've gone since then. I would LOVE to see a turtle tutorial...you need to do and are you going to teach a class?

  5. Isn't it fun to look back on our old work and see how far we've come? Anyone who starts something new has those moments of "how will I ever be as good as everyone else?". But as long as we keep at it, we improve (and add hats!). All your little penguins are so lovable!

  6. I'd love to buy a tutorial from you on any critter! I love your work, Lauren. Go for it!

  7. Hi Mallory! I wasn't actually thinking of selling a turtle tutorial - just posting it here. The tutorials I used from Emma Green's site were so helpful to me, that I'd love to pay it forward. I'm glad you like to try it!