I don't wear jewelry (except for my wedding ring), but sometimes I like making simple pieces for the fun of it… and because I like making things. I like that making a piece of jewelry poses different kinds of difficulties and obstacles as compared to, say, a table. Even if a table doesn't look all that good once I finish it, it can still be functional (but I hope that it looks good too.) If I make a necklace and it doesn't look good, then its function is lost, and I failed. So, last week I had an idea for this necklace, and I thought I'd give it a whirl. It was super easy to make, and I think it turned out pretty good. Sarah is wearing it now, so I guess she likes it. 🙂 I know that the appeal for a piece of jewelry is extremely subjective, but I think that this project can be customized enough that you can make it your own (or make it as a gift for somebody!)
Let me show you how I did it.
-Sculpey (If you don't want to commit to a 1.75 lb box, there are 2 oz packs you can buy for a couple bucks.)
-necklace chain (I bought two at the hobby store for 5 bucks, then spliced them together because I wanted the chain to be pretty long.)
-metallic paint and/or gold paint and/or gloss glaze (I bet you could even use acrylic paint and coat it with a glaze, and it would look cool.)
-sandpaper (320 or finer)
Step One: The first thing I did was combine the two 18" chains to make a mega chain. (I'm sure you can find longer chains already made.) Then I took clumps of clay a little smaller than a golf ball and clumped them around the the chain. I wanted the necklace to have a bit of weight, so I made them that size, taking into account that I was going to be shaving off a pretty good amount of clay. You can make them any size you want, just remember they have to support their own weight on the chain. (The baked clay is pretty tough, so you could probably scale it up a considerable amount.) I spaced the clumps just by eye and feeling. It's basically what you think looks good… you're going to be the one wearing it! Unless it's a gift, then the pressure is huge. 🙂 After you're done clumping, stick the whole thing in your oven and bake at 275 °F (130 °C) for 15 minutes per 1/4" (6 mm) thickness. Let it cool for a few moments after it's done baking.
Step Two: Once the clay has cooled enough that you can handle it, it's time to start carving. I used an X-acto knife and just started in. I found the best way to get the flat surfaces was to carve slow and patiently. I would carve one little patch, then move to another little section, and another. Soon they would start connecting, and with a little bit of carving here and there, I would have something I was happy with. After I carved all the flat faces, I would rub each surface (keeping it as flat as possible) on some fine sandpaper (320 grit) till it was smooth and the edges were sharp.
Step Three: When I was happy with the shapes, I painted two of them with gold paint and the accent shape a nice metallic Peacock Pearl. After the blue one dried, I wiped it with a wet cloth to dull the edges for a touch of character. That's it! That's all there is to it. There are so many directions you can go with this, and I hope you guys will try it out. – Josh
Credits // Author: Joshua Rhodes, Photography: Joshua & Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella and Hazel from the Signature Collection