Win an Aardvark Art Glass ebook. Learn to make a Screaming Cactus or Fish.

Todays review is of two tutorial ebooks by Cathy Lybarger of Aardvark Art Glass.  You probably recognize Cathy’s expressive beads and now you can learn how to get the same effects in your own beads.

it's a wonderful fish tutorial

It’s a Wonderful Fish is 20 pages of beautiful, clear pictures and easy-to-read instruction that teaches how to form the body of a whimsical fish and create the eyes and lips that have so much character in Cathy’s pieces.  I’ve tried to make faces before and have come up short when trying to give them personalities.  Cathy’s methods show the nuances behind the facial features of her fish that will put you well on the road to creating your own characters beyond fish!

Cathy says that she doesn’t think that her fish are that complex so even beginners can follow the instructions.

Her other tutorial is for her Screaming Cactus bead.

screaming cactus glass bead tutorial

This tutorial is a little shorter, but the price is a little lower too and it’s another great resource for learning to make charicature type beads with exaggerated whimsical features that really do give the effect of the faces actually saying something to the viewer.  Cathy offers the beginner version of the Screaming Cactus (the barrel cactus) as well as a more advanced version (the saguaro cactus with arms) so all levels of beadmaker will be happy with this tutorial.

You will learn about layering colors and encased stringer and a little secret about how to achieve those great teeth!

Cathy gives you a little insight as to how she came about her beads that appear to scream.  She also includes a “cheat sheet” at the end of the tutorial that is a pictorial guide to the tutorial so that once you read it, you can keep the cheat sheet by your torch as you work through the steps without having to flip through the pages as you go.

Both tutorials are an easy, fun, read and you will be sure to pick up tips for whimsical sculpting in glass no matter what experience level you are.  Would you like to win your own copy of one of these tutorials?  Cathy is giving away two copies of her ebooks and all you have to do is comment here and on May 4th (two weeks from today) I will randomly choose a winner.  Each winner can choose which ebook they would like and Cathy will zip it off to them.

So come on, leave your comment!  Even if you already own the tutorials, why not enter and surprise a friend who doesn’t yet have it!  Do you already have pictures of your own fish, cactus or characters you’ve come up with after using Cathy’s tutorials? Shoot me a picture and I’ll put them on the contest page!  No, you don’t get an extra entry or anything but you’ll get your picture in the gallery for the world to see.

Good luck!

How to Make Odd Shaped Beads.


At least, this is my version. It’s fun to layer different colors of transparent glass in odd, off balance ways and then press flat, letting the glass go where it may. This technique certainly works with opaque glass too, however, the layering of opaque colors will provide a more vivid, striated design, rather than a watery surface color.

First, lay down a light transparent color about 3/4″ long x 3/8″ diameter. I used clear because I like the stiffness of it and it also helps to water down subsequent colors.


Next, wind or dot on on another transparent color, but don’t cover the whole surface of the clear. Use any method you’d like.


Cover the rest of the bead with a complementary color that will blend in with the other colored transparent. You can overlap the first color or fill in between. Get creative! Melt the glass so the colors blend together.


Next, take one of the transparent colors and place two large dots, one on the top and one at the bottom of the bead. If you don’t get enough on the first time, flatten the dot into a pad and add more of the same color on top of the first layer.


Next, flatten both dots into pads in preparation for the next step.


Place large dots of the other transparent color on top of the pads. I alternated colors is to keep the watery theme throughout the whole bead, not just the base portion.


At this point, melt the entire bead until there are no sharp edges. Rounding up all corners and crevices, but not so much that it turns into a round bead.


While it is hot enough to press, use parallel mashers or another method to press the glass flat.


Be careful not to press too flat. The thinner the bead the less glass there is above and below the mandrel. The thinner the glass, the more chance that it could crack later. A general rule of thumb is to allow as much glass above the mandrel and below it, as the actual thickness of the mandrel.


The surprise is what shape your beads end up being after you pressing. Experiment with different positions of the dots and the sizes as well as the different colors you layer as well as where you layer them. Soon you will be able to predict the resulting shape and you will learn a lot about what different colors of glass do together.


Getting Your Name Out There.

That is the topic at flaminghot this week.   How do you get your name out there?  The answer?  Any way you can.

Every year I set goals and they seem to have a theme as to what I want to achieve.  A couple years ago my goals seemed to point towards name recognition.  It was a good time to focus on that since I was at home with two small children and couldn’t get out and about to travel to shows.  I focused on online methods.

Some of the things I did to work towards the goal of name recognition were:

  1. Blogging
  2. Posting on forums
  3. Putting web site info on everything possible
  4. Writing articles for magazines
  5. Writing online tutorials
  6. Selling on eBay
  7. Print Ads
  8. Interviews on other sites

Those things are nothing really exciting, and to me seem pretty obvious.  The true trick though, is being creative in all of those things.  Here is the same list with a little added emphasis:

  1. Blogging.  Don’t just blog.  Have personality.  Add something of value that people will want to come back for time and time again.
  2. Posting on forums.  Show pictures and again, have personality and add something of value.
  3. Putting web site info on everything possible.  Choose your web site name wisely and create a logo that will become recognizable.  Keep it simple.
  4. Writing articles for magazines.  Show/tell something new and exciting.
  5. Writing online tutorials.  Give away information freely.
  6. Selling on eBay.  Sell your best work and it will drive people to your site.  Mediocre work may bring a little extra cash but eBay is as much about getting you out there as it is making money.
  7. Print Ads.  If you can afford it, put a killer bead photo out there with a catchy logo.  Print ads in magazines give you credibility and people will start to remember your name.
  8. Interviews on other sites.  Seek sites/blogs that do interviews and see if they want to interview you.  Give them a reason why you would be interesting.

See?  Go that extra step.  These days with imports and competition, the thing that is going to work is you being unique…not just in your work but in your marketing too.