Thursday, January 6, 2011

Look Ma, No Holes!

I've had requests for beads without holes (not exactly a bead, then, now is it?) before, and I've always said I can't do that. I really wasn't sure how that works. Besides, beads are made on mandrels, which are rods that the glass is wrapped around, and that creates a hole. So how on earth could I make one without a hole?

Well, a couple weeks ago I got that request again - for a turtle without the hole. But this time, instead of automatically saying nope, I decided to figure it out. Turtles are one of my very favorite beads to make, and they are also fairly basic. The shell is a round bead - not a lot of sculpting to do there. So it seemed like a good bead to try out sans hole. The only way I could see doing this little sculpture would be on the very tip of the mandrel, so there would be a little dent under the shell (but who really looks there, anyway?).

So I wrapped the glass around just at the tip and closed off what would have been a hole. This left a nice big space on the top of the shell for decoration, so for the first one I rolled it around in some pretty frit. Nice. Then I put the face, feet and tail on it and voila! It was a mini turtle sculpture!

After I made one, I had to try again. So for the next one I added a nice piece of murrini (from rosebud101) to the top of the shell, and then a blob of clear to magnify the murrini. It was looking good! But then I ran into a little problem. My little sculpture was coming loose from the mandrel. Every time I added something - the head, a foot - the glass would move around. This can happen when you're making a bead, but the glass is at least wrapped around the mandrel, so it likely won't fall off. But working up at the tippy top of the mandrel, I knew that this turtle could take a nose dive at any second. So I finished up quickly and probably in the nick of time. The turtle turned out just fine.

Not the clearest picture, but here are the turtles perched atop their mandrels.

Order up! Three turtles with the works - but hold the holes, please.

The fritty turtle is on its way to Canada, to my customer who inspired me to finally make these little guys. Two of the other turtles have moved into my son's fish tank. They are a little hard to see, but one is perched on the dinosaur skull and one is near the teeth on the gravel. Burrito Man, his lone fish, is happy for the company.


  1. These look great!
    Love the fish name Burrito Man!

  2. Love your holeless turtles, Lauren!

  3. Congrats on mastering another creative challenge - isn't it great how customers can challenge you to create something different! These are great - I want one too!

  4. Great idea! I LOVE working off mandrel. I find it exhilarating to have blobs of molten glass floating in air!

    I think I would do this on the end of a 2 - 3 mm stringer. When finished, I would snip or flame cut what holding onto the neck with reverse tweezers (I find these invaluable in off mandrel work), smooth the cut mark / belly in the flame, flash all over and then anneal.

  5. heheheheh, I put my 'holeless' beads in the flower pots!! I now want a fish tank *insert rolly eyes smiley* They are really cool turtles :O)