Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cactus... Inspiration and Free Tutorial

Inspiration always comes from funny places. Sometimes it's as simple as something that is staring you in the face.

When my son came home from college, he brought two cactus with him. One of them was this one pictured. He added the mustache, which is a family joke.

This inspired me to make some of my own cactus in brighter colors that I prefer as you can see. These don't hurt like the original ones when you touch them, and they even require LESS watering. This one is available in my etsy shop

If you'd like to make a cactus of your own, here's a quick tutorial.
104 COE Soft Glass Needed:
Pea green (opaque)
Transparent Grass Green
CIM Gelly Pink
Transparent Pink - any one (not sure which one I used)
1/16th mandrel, pliers, marver and of course, torch and kiln

The main stem is your base bead. Lay on the pea green in a modified barrel shape. Make it as long as you want. I usually keep mine under an inch. I want to keep it a little larger at the base and slightly taper off towards the top. On purpose, I don't want it to be exactly even and sometimes we need to change old habits of perfect symmetry.

To build the "arms", I heat up a gather of of the pea green (better for it to be a little too much than too little). Then I heat up the place on the base cactus where I want to place it. Hot glass to hot glass melds and connects much better than if one side isn't pre-heated. I hold both pieces of glass together for a second for them to connect and place that section in the edge of the flame to make sure that is totally joined. Then I slowly hold the gather rod at a perpendicular position and barely pull out and then change the angle so the arm becomes an "L" shape. I flame cut the end of the glass slightly tapering it at the time. Repeat for the other arms that you choose to add. Remember, this piece needs to be thought of as a pendant, so you need to have at least one side, where it will lay well against the body.

Now to add the needles. As you can see, they are simple dots laid down in vertical lines along the cactus. I like to start with one line on a totally open side, and then work around the cactus.

Finally the flowers are ready to be added. I make base medium sized dots- kind of like a basic flower petal shape in the opaque pink. I like 5 dots, because it's an uneven amount and when you're going around the mandrel, you can make it with that number, as long as they're large enough. On top of the opaque dots, I add bits of the transparent pink to add a little depth. Then I take my pliers and squish them out to petal shapes. Just twist and turn them a bit to make them look the way you want.

Hope you enjoy making this cactus and that you have as much fun with sculptural beads as I do. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. You can post here, or convo me through my etsy shop,

I would love to do a follow up on this Cactus How-To. After you make your cactus, please send me a photo of it, so I can post it here to show others.



  1. Thanks for sharing this, Marcy! I'll have to give it a try!

  2. Wonderful! And send me a photo and a link to your website so I can post it later too. Convo me if I can help.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this - I'm going to give it a go Marcy! I'm a fan of the prickly cactii family- lol.
    I'm not promising about showing the results though -lol!
    Gotta say I am in love with your Thor, God of Thunder Dude looking at me from your to read your description now.

  4. Thanks, Marcy, for the free tut. I will give it a try tomorrow. Perhaps it will be added to a phant or two.

  5. Marcy, what a great description-- you must be an awesome teacher in person!

  6. Marcy this is great! Thank you.

  7. You're a star, Marcy! Thanks for the tutorial!! I love cactii.
    Love, Lori

  8. Hi Marcy,
    What a funny idea. Glass cactus. Thank you for the tut - will give a try next time at the torch!
    Regards from Germany, Silke


Hey, thanks for commenting. Visit my etsy shop, seller name: StudioMarcy