Yeah, me too. If you've got a good thing going, why not share it?
I feel the same about art and craft techniques. Because each person brings his or her own unique style to the table, it doesn't really matter if they're using the same technique as I am, because it's still going to be different. That's the beauty of art....
One of my lovely readers (Hi, Stella!) recently contacted me and asked if I would give her the scoop on how I make the necklaces, pins, and magnets featuring my artwork that I carry in my Etsy Shop. Since she's not the first to request this info, I thought I'd share a little tutorial here for all of my readers. Please just be sure to use images to which YOU own the copyright - don't use someone else's artwork or photography to make your pendant... It's illegal, and it's tacky. Be original (and legal)!
Okay, so let's get started!
Supplies You Will Need:
- Small wooden tiles - round, rectangular, square: choose the shape and size that will suit your image best.
- Sand paper - if you're buying pre-cut tiles, they are usually smooth enough to use without sanding. However, if you wind up cutting your tiles to size from small craft boards (available at craft stores - I've used basswood strips from Hobby Lobby before), you'll need to give them a good sanding.
- Fine grade steel wool - if any of the clear layers get "bubbles" in them, let them dry, and then use this to lightly sand the bubbles out. Add another clear coat on top to bring back the shine.
- 2 flat paint brushes (Designate one for the black paint and one for the clear coat. It's best to get a new brush for the clear coat, and only use it for clear coats. If there is any paint dried in the brush, it will flake out into your clear coat and cause you a lot of frustrations!)
- Black acrylic paint or whatever color you want the back and sides of the tiles to be. I use black for most of mine, but I've also used dark brown.
- Mod Podge - "Hard Coat" is my favorite, but any should work since you're covering it with...
- Some type of super thick, crystal clear varnish or epoxy for the top coat. I use "Triple Thick" by DecoArt. Some people use a product called "Liquid Glass." Whatever you use, make sure it's safe for jewelry/wearing on skin.
- High quality printed images featuring your original work sized to fit your tiles. (Please be aware that copyright laws DO apply here - don't use someone else's work for your project without permission - including mine. :o) Thanks!) I make my own prints with my Canon Pro9000 printer on Epsom Ultra Premium Presentation Paper (Matte). I do my editing and resizing in Photoshop. You can use artwork or photographs - Moms/Grandmas LOVE when you make these featuring photos of their kids/grand kids!
- Sharp scissors, a paper cutter, or punches to cut out images (punches are especially handy for round images - they give you a perfect circle, which is very difficult to hand cut with scissors).
- Jewelry glue
- Metal bails, chains or supplies to make your own cords, glue-on pin backs, magnets, etc., depending on what you're going to be making.
Paint your (smoothly sanded) tiles with black acrylic paint, and let them dry.
After the paint is thoroughly dry, use the Mod Podge to decoupage the images onto the tops of the tiles. Paint a layer directly onto the wood, then immediately place the paper on top and add a coat on top of the paper. Be sure to take some of the Mod Podge down the sides of the tile. Let this dry thoroughly, then coat the back and sides (again on the sides) with Mod Podge, so that the entire tile has been coated once, with the layers overlapping on the sides. Let this dry.
At this point, I usually add a little initial "signature" on the back of the tile with gold acrylic ink, but it's not necessary.
Now is a good time to give the image side a quick little rub down with the steel wool. This smooths out any brush marks and/or bubbles and creates a smooth surface for your top coat.
Next, you're going to coat the back and sides of the tile with the clear top coat (Triple Thick). Let this dry thoroughly. Flip the tile over, then add a coat of the Triple Thick to the top (image side) of the tile, and allow it to overlap the first coat a bit on the sides. Let it dry.
If any bubbles have formed over the image, use the steel wool again to smooth them out.
Repeat the clear top coat at least once more, making sure to let each side dry completely before flipping the tile. Be sure to cover the sides of the tile as well as the top and bottom. Add as many coats as you like, depending on how "thick" you want it to look. I usually do 2 coats.
Once the final clear coat has dried, you can turn your tile into something! I make a lot of necklaces, so I use jewelry glue (kind of like super glue) to adhere metal bails onto the backs of the tiles, then I make satin cords with clasps to serve as the necklace part. I also have turned tiles into pretty magnets or brooches by gluing round magnets or pin backs onto the backs of the tiles.
You can get creative here and try all sorts of things: pins, magnets, necklaces, bracelets, hair clips, ornaments, push pins, etc.
After I glue the findings onto the wooden tile, I usually do a "touch up coat" of the Triple Thick to finish it off. Sometimes the jewelry glue creates a cloudy haze around the metal finding, and adding another layer of the Triple Thick in that area will get rid of that and make it look shiny and polished all over.
The clear coat needs to cure for a few days before you do much with it - I usually suspend the necklaces by the cords to let the air circulate around the pendants. You just don't want to let them be touching anything until the top coat cures and hardens, or it can leave dents in the clear coat or get stuck to something.
My studio always looks pretty crazy when it's "jewelry-making time"! I use dowel rods, yard sticks, and curtain rods wedged under heavy items on my shelves to create hanging space for curing large batches of jewelry. Be sure to leave a little space between each tile. I usually let them hang up for at least 3-4 days before packaging or wearing them.
Well, that's it! I hope I've covered everything clearly here and that you've found this helpful. If you decide to try making one of these yourself, I'd love to see photos of your finished project! Feel free to ask if you have any questions - you can use the comment form below, or e-mail me.
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