Instructables
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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


 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
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Materials:

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)

White Vinegar

Salt

Tools:

Enamel Sifter

Drill or 2-Hole Punch

Metal Files

Enameling Station (see below)

Torch

Pliers, 2 pair

Bamboo Tongs or Wooden Chopsticks

Tweezers

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.

Safety:

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.

Passion Make5 months ago

Congrats. They look so pretty!

TamaraBerg (author)  Passion Make5 months ago
Aw, thank you. I love them. Make some!!

Congratulations !! I did not know about this project until I saw you in the finals :). Great Show :)

TamaraBerg (author)  Tarun Upadhyaya5 months ago

Thank you very much! I'm super excited.

legochest5 months ago

Congrats!!!! :)

TamaraBerg (author)  legochest5 months ago
Oh gosh, thanks, I can't believe I won! Congrats to you too, and keep making cool stuff!
action pig6 months ago

Nicely written and beautiful outcome. Voted :)

TamaraBerg (author)  action pig6 months ago

Yay! Thank you!! ;-)

O, these are pretty! Having them assembled regular-enamel-regular-enamel could give a very interesting result I think :) Also, congratulations on becoming a finalist!!

TamaraBerg (author)  emilyvanleemput6 months ago

Yes, I agree. The 'regular-enamel' lets people know how cool you are... because they're pennies! Thanks! Excited!!

DIY-Guy6 months ago

These are very pretty pennies!

Hint: Hardware cloth also comes in a galvanized (zinc coated) variety. The zinc will make toxic fumes and should be avoided, or VERY ventilated. Your mileage may vary regarding this risk.

TamaraBerg (author)  DIY-Guy6 months ago
EXCELLENT tip and safety warning. Thank you!!
Stan1y6 months ago

pre 1992 UK pennies are a high copper bronze (97%copper,2.5%zinc,0.5%tin) they to should be suitable for this after

belsey6 months ago
Very cute project and beautifully written and illustrated instructable... My only wish is links on where to find supplies. Where do you get your enamel and other supplies?
TamaraBerg (author)  belsey6 months ago

Ah… excellent question. Sorry for not including! I will update the 'ible, but for now here are some links:

Tripod: http://www.aajewelry.com/tripod-with-mesh-screen.h...

Enamel powder (other colors on this site, here's the blue I used): http://www.aajewelry.com/69-785.html

These are nice too (but not what I used in the 'ible). http://www.amazon.com/Opaque-Enamel-Assortment-For...

Hole Punch: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/H20308...

Sifter (I like this one because I can run fingernail across the twist to activate the sifting action): https://www.glassartpatterns.com/proddetail.asp?pr...

I know this list is "all over the place," but I've been accumulating my supplies for a few months. These tools and supplies are "approved and tested"!

Thanks for the kind comments. Have fun!

craftclarity6 months ago

Those are pretty!

TamaraBerg (author)  craftclarity6 months ago

Thank you very much!!

Those are so cute! I never would have thought they were pennies :D

TamaraBerg (author)  Penolopy Bulnick6 months ago

Right?! Thanks Penolopy!