Introduction: Avant Garde(ish) Brass Collar Necklace

About: I'm a maker and craftreprenuer! VP of the Fairfield County Makers Guil, I love to "create" and come up with new and unconventional ways to use everyday things to make life a little bit more exciting…

I. Much like you. (most likely)... am a 'Maker'

So when I see something inspiring, a kind of snowball effect may take place... and a new and spinoff idea emerges and my initial inspiration develops into a full blown totally new project that takes on a new life and ultimately trumps every other project i'm working on. That happens to you too right?? No? OK. well this collar necklace is my latest obsession.

Born from my never ending stash of "stuff" this may even be able to be something you can put together from materials you already have!

This received a lot of complements and i'm sure yours will too!

Step 1: Materials/ Tools

I've a suggested list below for tools and materials. Not everything in the list below is EXACTLY what I used, but i've included some options below and images of my tools/materials. Happy gathering/shopping

I used:

  • .016 x 3/4 brass strip - (get yours here)
  • set of needle files - (get yours here)
  • small roll of jewelry Nylon thread
  • 2 Crimp beads (try these here)
  • Jewelry Crimping tool (get yours here)
  • 2 Jewelry pliers (Note: you can utilize several types for our purposes ie(flat head, needle nose, etc)
  • pack of sewing needles (or a variety you have on hand)
  • Beads (Try some tourmaline! here)
  • dress form (optional)
  • metal cutting scissors (get yours here)
  • 4 jump rings (in desired color here)
  • 1 small jewelry lobster claw
  • small piece of jewelry chain. approx 2 in. (try upcycling an old necklace from a thrift store or your stash!
  • drill press - or metal hole punch

Step 2: Shape Your Brass. Cut the Brass.

Here is the fun part.

- If you're using a dress form, utilize the neck to bend the brass around the back of it. I did this by hand actually and used my own neck to ensure the shape I wanted to acheive.

- We're looking for the 2 ends of the brass strip to lay flat against the collarbone. So start by shaping the brass into a complete circle and then twisting the ends downward to lay flat.

- Next. You'll want to cut the strip right in the middle of the back of it resulting in 2 pieces.

Step 3: Sand the Brass Edges

Those edges are now pretty sharp! So they will need sanding....

- I first used my set of metal files. you'll want to sand each of the 8 sharp edges so they dont stab or scratch into your skin when wearing. Blood doesn't look all that great on gold....

- I opted to keep the edges square but you can round them out!

- I started with a more coarse grit file to get the bigger pieces filed down. the flat head file worked great for this. Next I used a finer grit file. The triangular shaped file as it felt most appropriate to start with.

- Be careful not to sand or mar into the fine brass finish unless you plan to buff that out later. I took care to avoid the matte finish as much as possible. that being said, i still ended up with some nicks here and there.

- The last step is sanding with the fine 3M jewelry sand paper to go over the edges and attempt to matte out the shiny finish. I used them dry for this project.

- Once those edges are smooth to the touch and a desired shape is reached we're ready to decide where the holes need to be punched

Step 4: Get Some Holes in That Brass!

I eyeballed the hole placement. I confess.

I've gotten very good at eyeballing things. I blame my sewing history and cooking methods. I hate measuring. Maybe thats why my wood working is poor?? the Jury is still out....but anyway....

- You will want to mark the brass on the end facing downward and will rest again your collarbone. I used a sharpie for this. One dot'll do ya.

- Eyeball it or measure. I'd reccommend 5mm from the edge.

- Repeat this on the flat ends that will be at the back of nape of the neck.

- Use the drill press to get a 2mm - 3mm hole into all 4 ends of the 2 brass pieces. (This was the most fun for me)

- We are making assumptions here... that you are familiar with using a drill press and/ or have access to someone who does.

- otherwise your metal hole punch is the way to go for getting those small holes into the brass.

-- note* you dont want a hole that is too big as the beads will be secured by wire through those holes and you want the crimps to not be able to fit back through once crimped.

Step 5: Let's Get to Beading

So here is where your creativity shines!

These are probably my favorite beads in my stash. I love them. I have used them in 3 different pieces and they always grab attention. They look like candy is dangling from my neck... so maybe its not the right kind of attention? lol

- Start by stringing a couple of beads with your nylon wire and sewing needles, leave at least 3 inches of wire at the beginning of the strand. I opted to make the bead centerpiece a kind of free form shape and 3 dimensional instead of flat.

- Once there are a few (say 4 beads) on your wire, begin to sew back through your first bead to close the loop. I kept adding 1 or 2 beads and then sewing back through a previously sewn beed. This gives the shape security and structure.

- I used a helping hand tool to hold one end of it so i could watch as the shape changed and grew and it just makes it easier to string the beads using both hands.

- Keep sewing on beads until your desired shape is just enough and you're ready to call it quits and make your big reveal.

Step 6: Crimp the Beads Onto the Brass

We're almost there!

- Take your bead strand and add 1 crimp bead to each end right up next to the end beads keeping them in place on the wire, and crimp them closed.

- Take the remaining wire ends and feed them from the collar bone ends of your brass strips towards the back.

-- so that means front (outward side) to back (downward facing side or against the skin side)

- decide how far down your bead cluster should be from the brass. I used the dress form to guage how low i wanted them to hang.

- Once determined, add another crimp bead to the wire and crimp closed on both sides. Voila! the front of your necklace is ready! cut off the remaining wire ends after the end of the hidden crimp bead.

Step 7: It's Clasp Time!

- Divide your chain pieces in 2. **You wont need the full 2 inches of chain pieces, but you dont wanto to work with anything shorter as it will be very hard to hold and add jump rings to at 1/2 inch

- Loop a jump ring through each back end of the brass pieces

- loop a piece of chain onto the jump rings and close them with your needle nose pliers.

- decide how long each side needs to be to accommodate your neck size and lay comfortably. I opted for 1/2 in. of chain on both sides. cut off the remaining chain.

- add another jump ring to both ends of the chain you just added

- add your lobster claw to one side. i opted for the left... and close it.

Step 8: Time to Shine!

That's it! Avant Garde(ish) - ness acheived.

I wore this with a plain black tee from Banana republic and a jean jacket to frame it.

Let me know how yours came out!

Cheers **

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