This bracelet is a terrific project for folks wanting to dip their toes into the process of enameling but are a bit hesitant. This tutorial covers the basics of simple enameling using a torch and items you can pick up from the hardware store. Once you get the hang of enameling on pennies... look out! It's really fun, and you might find yourself with a new addiction.
I've written a book for iPads with 4 more penny-jewelry projects in it. If you pick up my book, you'll also see video and more in-depth pics and info on the enameling process. You can find the book here: A Penny Saved
And I do other stuff... check out my website: www.TamaraCentral.com
Step 1: Materials and Tools
10 pre-1982 Pennies* (see Note below)
1 oz. Opaque Glass Enamel Powder (got the blue here.)
8 Copper Jump Rings, 7mm
1 Copper Lobster Claw Swivel Clasp, 14 MM
1” of Copper Chain for an Extender (Optional)
Drill or 2-Hole Punch
Enameling Station (see below)
Pliers, 2 pair
Bamboo Tongs or Wooden Chopsticks
Jewelry Polishing Cloth
*NOTE: You MUST use American pennies, minted before 1982 for this project.
Prior to 1982 every penny the U. S. Treasury minted was 95% copper (except in 1943). With the rising price of materials, the government was looking to cut costs. To save a few pennies on all the pennies they were making, the Treasury began minting new pennies out of zinc, and plating them with copper. Today, a pre-1982 one-cent coin is actually worth nearly 2½ cents in metal costs! If the date is 1983 or later, it’s made of 97.5% zinc and plated with a thin copper coating. (Pennies made in 1982 come in both varieties.) Because copper and zinc have different metallic properties, including the melting point, 1983 and later pennies can not be used for this project. Think of a post-1983 coin as a foil-wrapped chocolate coin sitting out in the sun too long…the chocolate inside melts, but the foil wrapping remains the same—the exterior plating of the copper can split apart and the zinc will show through.
Always wear Safety Goggles. Always, always, always—when working with metal, when making jewelry, and when working with a torch. Duh.
Do not wear loose or flowing clothes. Make sure your sleeves fit close to your arms.
If you have long or unruly hair, pull it back or cover it.
Wear closed-toed shoes.
Don’t wear jewelry while working because: a) you could ruin your jewelry, and b) your jewelry could get caught in something while you’re working, which can be dangerous.
Work in a clean, safe, well lit environment that’s properly ventilated.
Keep a fire extinguisher within reach at all times.
Place fireproofing materials around the work area where you will be torching or firing.
When working with a torch I always hold a pair of tongs or tweezers in my other hand. That way I’m not tempted to move a piece or touch something with my bare hand—it always has something in it!
Don’t use concrete pavers, brick, or terra cotta pots when working with torches—they cannot withstand the amount of heat generated by the torch.
Safety-proof your workspace. I work in my kitchen on a tile counter. I remove everything from the area and make sure all flammable liquids and items are put in another room. I work on a large foil-covered metal cookie sheet. The metal protects my counter top and the foil makes cleanup easier.