That Time I Made 25 Turtles


A few years ago, I had an idea to make a bunch of small turtles for my coworkers, to commemorate wrapping up a big project.  


I found an example of something close to what I was envisioning on Pinterest, and modified it a little.  I had a bunch of green glass leftover from other projects, so I started out by making one as an example - and once I was happy with the design I turned on some music and set up my turtle assembly line.

Each turtle required 5 pieces of glass (body and 4 legs), so first I cut the shapes out of paper for tracing.  For the heads, I used little glass gems.


The way I divided up the steps was as follows:

1.  Tracing:  I cut out one design and traced the outlines of the pieces using a Sharpie on the glass.

2.  Cutting:  I cut all 125 pieces, and made little piles of body parts for assembly.

3. Grinding:  I ground all the glass and used the grinder to scuff the edges of the gems so the foil tape would stick.

4. Foiling:  Definitely needed a podcast to alleviate the boredom of this step.

5. Wire:  I added a wire spiral to the front of each turtle body, so next step was to bend a piece of wire into a spiral,  and make a second smaller piece to use as the hanger on the backs.  So 50 cut and shaped wires.

6. Soldering:  I set up about 8 turtles at a time, fluxed, and tack-soldered them together.   Then I fully soldered them, using a vise to hold them to complete the edges.  I also made 2 drips of solder on the top of each head to represent the eyes.


I really should have kept track of how long all of this took, but since it was easy to put in 30-60 minutes at a time when I could, I didn't track it.  It didn't feel too tedious though since the steps moved pretty quickly.  Soldering was the exception to this - this seemed to take forever,  especially the edges since I had to keep moving the pieces around in the vise, being sure not to touch the hot area I'd just finished.

But they were done in plenty of time to hand them out, and I tied a little ribbon and name tag to each wire hanger.   Sometimes now I see them on people's desks when I go visit my coworkers from that time- and of course I made an extra one for me to keep for posterity!

Have you ever mass-produced an item for gifts to a group?