Valet tray

I’d been thinking of making a small tray that would hold not only my car keys, but also arbitrary jewelry items like the hair clips that I regularly use, or small accessories (like said clips, earrings, bracelets…) that I’d pick out for wearing the next day. So I recently made one using papier mΓ’chΓ©. Technically, this one’s a bowl and not a tray, but who cares, right? πŸ˜›

Valet tray / bowl I didn’t click pictures while I was making it 😦 so I’ll just verbally recount the important steps. I first selected a plastic bowl as the base to use in shaping the tray. I then prepared a flour-based glue. For the paper, I tore up newspapers randomly. Hand-torn is preferred (instead of clean-cut) because it helps the pieces form a more seamless surface.

Then came the construction of the tray — this took a while because the paper pieces need to be stuck in multiple layers, and every layer has to dry out before the next layer can be worked on. For the first layer, I spread some paper glue on the base surface and stuck a paper piece on it, brushing some glue on it. Then another piece followed by a coating of glue, then another piece and so on. When the layer was done, I set it outside for air-drying. Another layer followed, then another, until the structure was strong enough to independently hold its shape — that is, without the plastic bowl base — while I work on the next layer over it.

At this point, I removed the plastic bowl; it came off pretty easily after the first few nudges at its rim. More layers followed, both on the inner surface and the outer, until the tray was thick enough. I finally made the rim neater (but still kinda uneven — I liked how the uneven rim looked) by adding folded strips over it. That was the paper base done.

I then borrowed my sister’s gesso to prime the bowl for painting. After letting the gesso-coated tray dry, I painted it a rough, uneven gradient of yellow, orange and red acrylic colors. Finally went a couple of coatings of Mod Podge to give it a nice finish.

Valet tray / bowl I totally love this tray ❀ and it’s been in regular use for a while. I’m now looking for an excuse to make another that we can use! πŸ˜‰

Moth earrings

These earrings are one of my early jewelry-making experiments. I made these from some wrapping paper (I think.) They have absolutely no varnish on them, and are suited only for dry days.

Moth earrings

Moth earrings

I cut around 16 elongated-heart shapes from the wrapping paper — 8 for each earring. (You could just fold the paper a lot of times and cut them together, just like you do for cutting decorative shapes in paper streamers.) I started sticking each side of every shape to a side of the next shape. Finally, just before I closed the earring by gluing sides of the eighth and first shapes together, I stuck a long wire which I’d shaped into an eye-loop at the top. I made sure I added copious amounts of glue to the wire so it would stick. πŸ˜‰

That’s it. Oh yeah, don’t forget to add an earring finding to the eye loop! πŸ™‚

Textured pendant

Sometimes, ideas just grab hold of you, and you have to execute them, at least to see how they turn out. This was one such time, and the idea was to make a pendant with a lot of texture. This is how it turned out —

Textured pendant

Textured pendant

And this is how I made it —

Body shaping

I cut two fairly sturdy sheets of cardboard into rectangles of desired shape. Mine are about 1″x2.5″ (2.5cm x 6cm). If your cardboard is thick, remember to cut holes for the final finishing right now. (Even if it’s not thick, it would probably be easier to cut the holes.) I shaped the circumference by first snipping off the corners into rounded ones, then lightly sanding the whole edge with a 400-grit sandpaper to give it a rough, half-finished wood-like feel. I then glued the two pieces together. If you’d like to, you could have another go with the light sanding, but I left the piece as is.

The paintwork

I applied watercolor paints on the piece, light brown on one long end and light blue on another. Note that for this to work, the brush should not be too wet. I made really long strokes, all along the length, sometimes straight, sometimes slightly oblique, until the texture slowly evolved to my satisfaction. I’d wanted a stripe of dark blue at one of the long ends, so I’d chosen cardboard that already had a stripe. (I’m lazy that way. πŸ˜€ ) But if you’d chosen plain cardboard and want a stripe too, you must wait until the paint dries. You could then cover the part where you don’t want the stripe with neatly-cut scrap paper, and paint away the exposed part. That’ll give you a straight stripe, and you can remove the scrap paper then.

The finishing

I wanted the finishing to have some texture too. Since the edges of the pendant are rough-wooden textured, I thought I’d try for a similar finish. I chose glossy Mod Podge for this. (I have no idea how a matte one will turn out. Personally, I think the texture won’t be very visible.) I scooped up a glob of the stuff with my finishing brush, and kept applying it, again with really long strokes, continuing even when it started drying. While it dried on the pendant, it dried on the brush too, which made it convenient to turn the strokes harsher — see the soft gouges in the picture below? There, that makes for a textured finish!

Textured pendantThe one last thing to do before you can call it a day is, of course, secure a jump ring in the top hole! πŸ™‚

So, are large, textured pendants your cup of tea? Would you make this differently, unique to you?

Wire crocheted scrunchy bracelet

This is an old project of mine — a bracelet using wire crochet and beads that I made during my early days of discovering wire crochet. It scrunches up a bit if you apply light pressure on it, so you’re safe even if it is slightly bigger than you intended.

Wire-crocheted scrunchy bracelet

Wire-crocheted scrunchy bracelet

I’d just made a few paper beads of varying sizes and shapes (ranging from spherical to thick-saucer) from the same paper, and was looking for ways to incorporate all of them in a jewelry piece. And well, I did want to try out more wire crochet… πŸ™‚ That’s how this project came about.

How I made it

I used three different colors of 26-gauge wire for this bracelet. I cut 5 pieces of wire, each about 24″ (60cm.) I didn’t need to string the beads onto the wires before I started, because the wires are short and beads can be added when needed. (Yay for that!) I divided the beads into three piles, and made chain stitches on three of the wires, adding the beads now and then to the stitches. I made plain chain stitches (with no beads) on the other two wires. I lightly twisted each plain chain with one each of the embellished ones, so there were 3 chains overall. I then wove those into a 3-strand braid. I finally secured both ends and added a clasp.

That was easy, wasn’t it? Let me know if you try it out sometime!

Squarish paper earrings

My new sideboard arrived recently, and my room finally has some proper furniture in it. Rearranging my stash inevitably followed, and in the process, I found some old one-sided printouts that I’d retained to repurpose as jewelry. So I got to work.

Squarish paper earringsThe base

I cut out eight 1″-wide squares from the paper, and then divided them into two equal piles. I glued together the 4 squares in each pile to make 2 strong squares. (Err, or at least stronger than the individual ones…) I applied my scissors to two opposing points of each square and made them curved. I then used a sharp pin to make a small hole on each square near one of the uncut points. I would use these holes to attach the earring findings later.

The design

I painted a curved gradient on each square using black and dark-blue watercolors. For added effect, I diluted the blue paint on my brush and gently nudged it along, and just outside, the boundary of the curve. That gave it a blot-like look.

I repeated the process on the other surface of the squares, ensuring that the same point is used for the start of the gradient on both sides. I also took care to color the edges of the pieces so the white of the paper doesn’t show up there.

Even after all this, the pieces looked a bit plain, so I borrowed my sister’s Signo white pen and drew some waves and curves on them. Much better!

The finish

Alright, it was time for some gloss! I applied two coats of Mod Podge with a satin-finish on the pieces, each coat applied after the previous had finished drying. (The satin finish is quite glossy. I’d expected a light sheen, but nope, the shine almost blinded me. πŸ˜‰ ) I then attached a large jump ring each through the holes, and finally added earring findings to the jump rings. Happiness!

So, do you like flat paper earrings like these?

Chunky newspaper bead earrings and pendant

The wire jig has finally been conquered! Okay, maybe ‘conquered’ is a strong word. What I can say for sure, though, is that the shapes I make using my wire jig resemble one another much, much more than they did earlier. More importantly, they resemble the shape that I want them to be. I’m pretty pleased with the earrings and pendant that I created using my wire jig and some chunky newspaper beads that I made earlier.

The earrings

Chunky paper bead earrings

Chunky paper bead earrings

I started the earrings by first making the bottom spiral using my round nose pliers. I used the spiral as the initial anchor to hold the wire while I wound it around pegs on the wire jig. After making the S-shape, I used my chain nose pliers to remove the curves at the point where the S-shape ended. I then threaded the paper bead onto the wire, and made an eye loop at the top.

I took care to duplicate each step for both earrings before moving to the next step; that way, I could make sure that both shapes resembled each other better.

As the last step, I attached the eye loop to an earring finding.

The pendant

I wanted the pendant to be a bit unique. I thought it would be nice if the pendant could be attached to its chain either vertically or horizontally. Of course, I wanted the S-shape in the earrings to be present in the pendant too. So well, this time, instead of a spiral, I made an eye loop and used it as the initial anchor to bend the wire in the S-shape. I strung the super-chunky bead on the wire, and made another S-shape. It was a bit difficult to wind wire on the jig with a chunky bead trailing behind, but I managed it. Another eye loop came last. I made sure the shapes at both ends were roughly of the same size.

Here’s the pendant attached vertically —

Chunky paper bead pendant

Chunky paper bead pendant

And here it is attached horizontally —

Chunky paper bead pendant

Chunky paper bead pendant

Not too bad. What do you think?

Chunky paper beads

Chunky paper beads

Chunky paper beads

Paper beads were what I started my DIY jewelry experiments with, and Janice Mae’s paper bead blog and video tutorials helped me take my first (and many subsequent) steps in making paper beads. I’m so grateful to her.

Now for the chunky beads. I’d decided to make them from newspaper. I’ve made such beads before, and used (and then reused) them in jewelry pieces. Now that my sister has finally added them to some bracelets, I thought I’d make another set. Chunky beads look great when used with wire, but I’ve not really decided how exactly to wire-embellish the ones I’ll make. I’ll leave that inspiration to strike me another day. Meanwhile, I’ll summarize how I made the beads themselves.

I followed most of this tutorial by Janice Mae for the beads, except that I wanted my beads to be chunkier than the ones in the tutorial. Because I used thin newspaper instead of the thicker catalog paper used there, I had to measure and cut many, many long strips of newspaper. Each strip was about a meter long, with the ends of the strip differing in width by half a centimeter.

Winding a paper bead

The long strips made it a little clumsier to work the bead — if I was not careful, my fingers would slip, the paper would get unwound, and I had to do damage control. That’s why I had to use glue frequently to keep the paper in place. After lots of paper-winding that included gentle pushes on the surface of the beads to shape them, the chunky beads had passed the first stage of their creation.

Chunky paper beads

I left them for a while so the glue could dry. Over the next few days, I applied multiple coats of matte-type Mod Podge on the beads, leaving each coat to dry well before the next application.

Chunky paper beads

The beads are now hard, with a bit of shine on them.

Next phase: Operation Wire Embellishment. πŸ™‚