Here's how you too can make magic glowing crystal jewellery, inspired partially by Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire and partially by my need to slap glow powder onto everything I make, because I think we can all agree that phosphorescent things are awesome.
Time: Approximately four hours for one pendant.
Skill: Moderate to advanced, depending on if brazing will be involved.
Caution: Involves cutting metal with sharp things, possibly open flame and molten metal, and using glue that can stick your hands to your face if you're not careful.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
- Quartz point(s)
- Brass sheet (~1-2mm thick)
- Brass tubing (~5-10mm dia.)
- Pipe cutter
- Flat-jawed pliers
- Angle cutters / tin-snips
- Metal files and/or sandpaper in various grits
- Glow powder (blues and greens glow brightest and longest)
- Clear epoxy or other strong adhesive (emphasis on clear ← this is important)
- Mixing stick
- Mixing tray
- Paper towel or shop cloth or old rags
- Safety glasses/goggles and other necessary protective equipment
Recommended If You Can Get It and Know How to Use It
- Dremel or other rotary tool, and cut-off discs
- Power sander (i.e. belt sander, disc sander)
- Silver solder
- Silver solder flux
- Soldering torch
- Baling wire and/or soldering clamps
- Fireproof work surface
- Buffer and buffing compounds
Step 2: Metal Prep
Grab a quartz point and some calipers, and measure how far down the crystal you want the finished end cap to go. Add an extra millimetre or two to leave some leeway for error and to account for saw kerf and future sanding/grinding (but mostly as leeway for error).
Step 3: Forming the End Caps
Now to shape that strip of brass around the end of the quartz crystal.
Step 4: Bails
A bail is the name of the loop on a necklace pendant that the chain or cord goes through.
Step 5: Brazing It Together
Time to get some torch on.
The sleeve part of the end cap usually holds its position just fine on its own without the assistance of any soldering clamps or wire, but I usually wrap it in a few twists of baling wire anyway, just to be sure (don't have photos of that part, sorry). Get some flux along the overlapping ends and braze it together.
For the top of the end cap, cut another piece of brass that's a little bit larger than the end cap sleeve is wide. Better to go too wide than just barely wide enough. All the overlap will be filed off anyway.
When positioning all the pieces, make sure you're 100% satisfied with the placement before firing up the torch. Flux can be easily wiped off and reapplied; half-brazed, red-hot bits of metal, not so much.
Step 6: Fun for the Fire-Free
"But Chim!" you cry. "What if I don't have brazing equipment or experience or just really shouldn't be allowed around fire?"
Well, there exist adhesives designed to bond metal, and some of them are strong enough to rival a brazed joint once they've set. So we're gonna glue that sucker.
Step 7: Glow Glue
Time to assemble the whole pendant. Green powder has the brightest, longest-lived glow. Blue is the canon colour for the Atlantis crystals. Aqua is a nice halfway between green and blue. Just forget about using any other colour. None of them glow brightly enough to be suitable for this project.
I used a blue-coloured powder hoping that it would refract through the crystal and give it a blue tinge even during daylight, but it didn't work very well.
Step 8: Completed Glow Bling
Run a chain or cord through the pendants, and they're ready to wear.
Due to the opaque nature of sheet metal, light needs to shine down along the quartz point to reach the glow powder. Leaving them in bright sunlight will probably do a good enough job, but the best way to guarantee that the powder is getting illuminated is to position the pendants under a UV lamp and shine the light directly down the core into the end cap.