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Sakura blossom necklace and earrings with YUPO paper

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I wanted to try doing something with a material rarely used in jewelry making -- YUPO paper. YUPO is not actually paper, it is thin sheets of polypropylene. As such, it has some interesting properties, such as being waterproof and very difficult to tear, that normal paper doesn't have, which suggest some intriguing possibilities. YUPO is normally used for printing, and some artists also find it a great watercolor and ink medium.

One property of YUPO that I'd read about was that it will warp when exposed to heat (so using it to make lampshades, for instance, is not very practical). I was curious how much heat was necessary and what this warping looked like, so I held a scrap piece above a candle flame to see how it behaved itself. Watching the piece of paper curl, shrivel, and thicken in the heat gave me an idea of how to take advantage of this unique feature of YUPO.

Using fabric or paper flowers in jewelry isn't new, but both materials, while often producing realistic and beautiful results, require delicate handling, and can be completely ruined by moisture. Since YUPO is waterproof and extremely durable, this wouldn't be a problem, and even the curvature that it acquires when exposed to heat would be completely unaffected by normal wear and handling, and, conceivably, even withstand some brief abuse from children and pets. (Please note: I'm  not suggesting that either YUPO paper or jewelry made from it would make good toys for pets or children. At the very least, a sheet of plastic can present a danger of suffocation, and jewelry tends to have small parts and be a choking hazard. So please keep younger children and animals safely away.)
 
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Step 1: Gather Materials

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 In this instructable, I intend to show you how to make a necklace and a pair of earrings similar to mine. However, it is the flower making technique that is the truly original element here, so you could make many adjustments and variations to accommodate the materials you prefer/have available, and your own designs. Therefore, most of the tools and materials on this list are optional.

Two things that aren't optional are YUPO paper and a source of heat (a candle is most convenient and easy to find). I also highly recommend that you get a "tiny hole" hole punch, as it is by far the most convenient way to make holes in the flowers.

Other materials you may want/need are:
a large flower-shaped hole punch (to help you make many flower shapes quickly),
pink and green flower beads,
pink crystals,
thin jewelry wire (I'm allergic to both nickel and copper, so I went with permanently colored aluminum wire, which is both cheap and hypoallergenic, but you could also go with copper, brass, sterling silver, or even gold wire; I don't recommend stainless steel, or galvanized, as both can rust when exposed to sweat and skin oils),
wire cutter (preferably flush),
and needle-nose pliers.

Step 2: Make Flower Shapes

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If you are using a flower punch, cut a sheet or two of YUPO paper into strips approximately as wide as the punch, and punch out flower shapes. Make more than you think you'll need, because the heat-curling process is very chancy, and won't always produce pleasing results. The final necklace and earrings in this instructable requires 36 finished flowers. You may have to revisit this step to make enough. If you are cutting the flowers by hand, I recommend making one flower to use as a template (or using some other flower shape as a template), outlining it in pencil, and then using small sharp scissors to cut out the shapes.

When you are done, punch tiny holes into the center of the flowers -- that where the wire will go through them. A hole punch is best, but if you can't get your hands on one, a thick needle should work.

Step 3: Play With Fire

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This is the key step, where flat paper flower petals will acquire curved organic shapes. It's not difficult, but you will have to get a knack for it. I suggest using some of the scrap paper left over from the previous step to practice.

There are several things to remember, that will make this easier:
*The paper will usually curl toward the heat source, not away from it.
*The closer the paper is to the heat, the more rapidly it will curl and shrink, and the more dramatic the result -- this is generally not what you want, as you will have the least control over what's happening.
*Be careful about grasping petals that you've just heated -- they will be hot (sometimes even slightly melted), and they will be hot enough to hurt, possibly even burn you. Consider using tweezers instead of your fingers to hold the flowers to the heat.
*Try to make the flowers as uniform as possible -- they won't turn out completely uniform, as there are too many variables when dealing with a candle flame, but there's less chance of ruining them completely.

Step 4: Assemble the blooms

I cut 4 longer wires (about 8") and 4 shorter ones (about 4") and tied knots toward the wire edges, tightening them as much as possible, to keep beads from sliding freely around the wires (the same can be accomplished with crimp beads, or wire kinks, or looping the wire through a bead).

Then I strung a green flower bead onto the wire tip to simulate a calyx with sepals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepal). A larger seed bead can be used instead.

Then I strung two heat-curved flower shapes, followed by a pink flower bead and a small pink crystal. Any pink beads or crystals will suffice in a pinch, so long as they are not too large/tall.

I then trimmed the remaining wire to within about 3mm from the top bead, and used pliers to bend and pinch it, creating a "head" (like in a "head pin") to keep the beads from sliding off.

I made flowers this way on both ends of each of the wires.

To create the earrings, I started by cutting two roughly 2" wires and bending/pinching one end to make them into head pins (you could use pre-made head pins here). I then strung the beads and flowers in reverse order: pink crystal, pink flower bead, two paper flowers, and green flower. I then looped the ends of the wire around a plier tip, wrapped it around itself to secure it, and trimmed off the end.

Step 5: Assemble the necklace and earrings

The four longer flower-tipped wires will make up the back and sides of the necklace (two for the right side, two for the left). The shorter flower wires will fill in the middle.

Fold the longer wires into uneven halves. Connect two of them by looping the bend in one over the flower that sticks out the farthest. Twist the wires together to secure as shown in photos.

I opted to make a hook-and-loop closure for the necklace, out of the wire loop tips farthest in the back.  If you want your necklace to have a separate clasp, this might be a good time to attach it.

When you've made the two side pieces, use the shorter flower wires to connect them as shown.

Arrange the flowers to your satisfaction.

Connect earring wires to the loops of the single flowers you've made in the previous step.

Voila, you are done! Enjoy your necklace, and please vote for my instructable!
chakra2 years ago
if u can afford, try it out with silver sheets, pearls and silver wire. it would be a beauty eligible for heirloom!
For a moment I thought they were real flowers. such a cute thing you made :) thank you so much for sharing it.
Loved it!!
canida2 years ago
Fabulous, love it. Such a simple idea!
So cute! I love it with that colored wire :)