Are you wearing eye protection? You need to be wearing either glasses or preferrably safety glasses. I built the LOL shield last weekend and I decided to build it on top of a CD case just for fun. I stopped once I melted part of the CD case and I don't think I touched it. I did this to show myself and others the unknown dangers. You need to protect your eyes as well and I can't stress this enough.
The LOL shield is not just about soldering. It is about having fun after getting every LED in the right position. Could you imagine building one for production or selling it? Every LED would have to be straight and in line with all the others. It is one thing to build something but it is another thing to build it as if it was for sale because if it is for others, it needs to be near perfect or perfect.
My Dad taught me soldering. He would take a piece of cardboard and punch a bunch of holes in it and then thread wire through all the holes and then practice rolling solder down the solder iron on them. They taught my Dad at G.E. a different way of soldering than I ever learned and what I remember about it is probably wrong today.
Instead of getting board by doing a lot of soldering, build some other things for fun too.