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Picture of Popsicle Stick Jewelry
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Often overlooked, popsicle sticks, tongue depressors and wood craft sticks all make great jewelry with only a few tools and materials. They are not difficult to make and with some imagination and creativity, you too can make beautiful wood jewelry.

They can be painted, stained, decorated and varnished. How you finish them is entirely up to you. 
 
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Step 1: Materials

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Well obviously you need popsicle sticks, tongue depressors or wood craft sticks. The wider style is preferred over the skinny popsicle sticks, but they too can be made into jewelry. New or used is fine, just wash and dry them first if they are used.

For carved pendants, earrings etc., you will need a pencil and some small sharp tools to carve the material.

For cuff bracelets, you will need a pot of water, a stove, tongs (to remove sticks from boiling water), fabric pot holder and a small canning jar. Why the jar? Well its a nearly the perfect size for shaping the cuff bracelets. Canning jars are preferred if you want to speed up the drying process, otherwise, you can use any jam sized glass jar.

For all projects you will need sand paper in varying grits (medium & fine grit), wood varnish to protect finished pieces and a brush to apply varnish.

Optional Materials: 

If you want to embellish your wood jewelry pieces you can easily use small stickers, sticker letters, nail art decals, or adhesive gems (normally used to decorate cell phones). All these can be inexpensively purchased from craft stores, or dollar type discount stores.

A drill and a small drill bit will be very helpful in getting the holes made for pendants or earrings, but I was able to make holes using the sharp tool I carved with, so this is optional.

If you prefer, you can easily paint or stain these pieces. Just ensure that the paints and stains you use are compatible with your varnish. Use all water-based or all oil-based products. DO NOT mix water-based and oil-based finishes.

Note: If you use adhesive gemstones, you will need to either apply additional layers of varnish, or consider purchasing a thicker varnish product, available through most home improvement or craft type stores.

Step 2: Pendants, Earrings and other carved wood jewelry

I've provided several images, but this is a fairly easy project. Just be careful using any sharp tools

Start by drawing your design with a pencil. Then using your carving tool, carefully score a line around the design. This will help to prevent the wood from splintering.

Now consider where you should begin carving. In this case, I wanted to remove the top piece first and then work in the center, and finish by carving the bottom of the heart out of the design. You don't want to leave harder areas to carve or the center for last as the material becomes weaker as you remove more material. It's also difficult to work the center when you've already removed the shape from the stick.

When possible, stop and do some sanding while the shape is still attached to the stick as it'll be easier to work with.

Once the shape has been carved out, finish the piece by thoroughly sanding the piece smooth.

If you want to embellish your design, make sure to remove all the dust from the piece and then add decals where desired. After adorned, get out your varnish and brush the piece on one side and set aside to dry. After its dried, varnish the other side. Ensure you get all areas and sides coated with varnish to protect it. Additional coats may be required.

Allow to dry.

For pendants and earring, you may add jump rings to the holes. Pendants can be worn with a thin necklace or with any other cording material; and for earrings simply add earring posts (may be purchased inexpensively from a craft store or use parts from another set).

Step 3: Wood Cuff Bracelets

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These wood cuff bracelets couldn't be easier to make.

Simply put sticks into a pot of water and bring to a simmering boil. Boil for about an hour, or until they are less rigid (test by using your tongs and try to bend them).

When they are pliable enough, you'll be able to take them out with tongs and using a pot holder, they should easily wrap around the outside of your glass jar. (Boil a little longer if they do not bend easily). Hold the stick (with the pot holder) against the outside of the glass for a few moments until you can handle the stick with your bare hands. Then take the stick and carefully bend it to the inside of the jar and leave it there to dry.

You can speed up the drying process by placing the heat proof canning jar into an oven on low (about 200F) until dried. In the oven, it may take a couple hours. Left to air dry, it will take at least 24 hours. You'll know when the wood has dried as it will begin to shrink away from the edges of the glass jar.

After drying, remove the sticks and give them a good sanding to a smooth finish. Wipe free of dust.

If you want to embellish your wood cuff bracelets, (make sure they are free of dust) and then apply decorations as you wish. After adorning your bracelets, apply varnish to the inside of the bracelets only and transfer to the inside of the glass jar to dry. Sometimes the varnish can cause the wood to straighten slightly, so allowing the varnish to dry inside the jar will help prevent this. After all coats of varnish to the inside of the bracelets are dry, varnish the outside and edges to ensure an even, thorough coat.

Allow to dry before wearing. 
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Diane Chavira3 months ago
Great project, thrifty too! I plan on trying to make a few bracelets with my daughter.
canucksgirl (author)  Diane Chavira3 months ago
Thanks! Feel free to post some pics when you're done, I'd love to see them. :-)
We made these with tongue depressors to sell at our school market day. The younger children loved them!!
Kiteman2 years ago
I just used this to make the foundation for one of my own projects, to be published... soon (it just needs testing).
canucksgirl (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
That's awesome! Can't wait to see what you've made. :-)
very pretty, now all I need is lots and lots of ice-cream!
Great idea, they look like they were carved into that shape ! You could get some interesting effects with coloured dyes, blue,green etc. Don't know if you could add them to the boiling water ... might be worth a try.
canucksgirl (author)  Lectric Wizard2 years ago
Thanks! I have thought about adding colored dyes, using wood stain, and even painting some of them. Its pretty versatile actually (for something most people toss in the trash). :-)
HMice3 years ago
For a child sized bracelet, would you use the same jar or something smaller? O_o
canucksgirl (author)  HMice3 years ago
The jar I used gave me a diameter of about 2 1/4 inches. If that's too big for the child's wrist, use a smaller diameter jar, or a glass, votive candle holder (as they are designed to withstand heat).
Ahh, cool thanks!
This is a very smart idea I would never think of something as great as this!
canucksgirl (author)  Dusk Shadows3 years ago
Thanks very much! :)
It's ok!! =)
Nice project!
Now, I just have to find some popsicle sticks.........
canucksgirl (author)  emilyvanleemput3 years ago
Thank you.
Just treat yourself to some ice cream (on a stick) or a popsicle and your set! ;-)
:)
kelseymh3 years ago
Very nice! The instructions on wood-bending were great -- even I could probably get it to work right :-)

I am curious that you write, "Sometimes the varnish can cause the wood to straighten slightly." I believe you, but I'm having trouble picturing the mechanism. I would have expected the varnish to contract slightly as it dried, which would tend to pull the inside of the curve (where you have us varnish first) tighter. Or is the issue that the varnish soaks into the wood itself, expanding the fibers?
canucksgirl (author)  kelseymh3 years ago
Thank you! This was my first attempt at wood bending, but I was determined to find a use for all these extra sticks that I have... and so the cuff bracelet was born. At first I didn't think there would be a reaction with the varnish. Perhaps if I had used an oil based product, there may have been no change, but I used a water based kind. So as the varnish soaked in, it seemed to want to go with the grain and it started to straighten slightly, so into the jar they went to dry. Once the inner portion was varnished and dried, there was no further change when the outside was varnished. It was a bit of an experiment, but thankfully they came out alright.
Very interesting! I don't know enough about woodworking to know whether an oil-base would have behaved differently. But great observation, and thanks for the very clear explanation.

I wonder whether varnishing the outside first would "tighten up" the curve, or also tend to straighten it. If the water is acting to resoften the wood, it might try to "get back to normal" either way. But if it's just expanding the fibers, maybe doing the outside first would maintain the curve?

Anyway, the finished products are just lovely!
canucksgirl (author)  kelseymh3 years ago
Let me start off by saying "thank goodness for a few extra test dummies", because attempt number 1 at varnishing, was done on the outside. It was like the darn thing remembered it was once a stick, and it started to straighten out, and since it was covered in varnish, there wasn't much I could do to save it. So then for attempt 2 - 4, I varnished the inside only and then placed them in the jar to dry, thus stopping its tendency to "relax" out of shape. I'm not entirely sure an oil based varnish would change the results, as popsicle sticks are made with inexpensive soft woods and are not likely the "ideal" material for wood bending, but with a few 'tricks' it worked. I may give the oil based varnish a try, just to see what actually happens...
Cool! Thanks for your patience :-) There's some neat soft condensed matter physics going on there...
canucksgirl (author)  kelseymh3 years ago
No, thank you. I appreciate the interest. Whether its on the basis of science or for the aesthetic value, I appreciate the feedback. Its more frustrating to put the time and effort into something and not get very many comments. ;)
I know what you mean. Very cool, I WILL make it some day.
canucksgirl (author)  kaylaangelkisses3 years ago
Hey. Thanks for commenting. I hope you do make this sometime. ;)
Possibly wrapping with an elastic band or string would help prevent the straightening?

(I've added this project to my list of things to do with my school's "science and technology" club.)
canucksgirl (author)  Kiteman3 years ago
An elastic or string would probably work as well, as long as it was still around another form like a pvc pipe. In my first tests, (at the bending stage) I tried using just an elastic but it made more of a horseshoe shape than a 3/4 circle and I'm not sure how effective it would be at the varnish stage.

Thanks for adding this to your project list. Please share the results! ;)
CrLz3 years ago
Much awwesomeness!

Will try this with my kids.

Thanks for posting.
canucksgirl (author)  CrLz3 years ago
Thank you! Post a photo. I'd like to see how your creations turn out. ;)
mole13 years ago
Great ible! Now to figure out voting ....
canucksgirl (author)  mole13 years ago
Thank you! I didn't make it as a finalist in the Valentines Day Challenge, but I'm still in on the ShopBot Challenge in case you want to vote.
bajablue3 years ago
You know what would really "bling" this bangle bracelet up?

A small silver chain with a lobster clasp.
canucksgirl (author)  bajablue3 years ago
That is a cool idea. I've actually come up with quite a few more ideas, but since we're not allowed to modify our entries after the deadline, it doesn't leave me with much time. (Valentine's Day Challenge ends at midnight).
bajablue3 years ago
VOTED! This project is too adorable!!!
canucksgirl (author)  bajablue3 years ago
Thank you for the vote, comment and for subbing!
They were really easy and quick to make, I hope you give it a try. ;)
aha! I just accidentally found this ible in the shopbot challenge, too.;-D

It's really too bad Instructables can't seem to create a better format for voting for the same ible in different contests. Too many projects are getting lost in the shuffle.
canucksgirl (author)  bajablue3 years ago
I agree. They only put up voting for one at the top, and as far as I can tell there's no choice of which one shows up there either; but I appreciate you noticing! ;)
Sometimes, there isn't even a link at the top.

My Super Poms Poms are entered into the Toy Challenge, but there isn't a voting header on the page.

I'd call that an extreme disadvantage, too.
canucksgirl (author)  bajablue3 years ago
Wow. You're right... that is an unfortunate disadvantage, and I'm not even sure how that's possible since you are entered in the contest. (?)

What I would suggest that you do (even though the deadline is today), is go to the forum section and post a bug report. I emailed staff last week about the fact there are duplicate entries shown in the list (8 last time I looked); and since you don't even have a voting option on your page makes this whole thing seem rather unfair. Just make sure to include a screenshot of your page, and give a link (to your page and the contest entry page), it might get you some last minute votes. If its any conciliation, I did just vote for you now. ;)
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