Introduction: Ceramic Tile Cross Medallion Necklace

Make a cross necklace out of small ceramic pieces. Of course, any shape or design could be made as well.

I'm a big fan of making things out of essentially nothing, or at least out of things that you might have around the house. Upcycling is free, or close to free, and it's rewarding to take something useless or ugly and make it into something useful or pretty.

Have fun.


Step 1: Gather the Stuff

The items I used included...

  1. pieces of ceramic bathroom tile
  2. an aluminum can
  3. an aluminum nail
  4. nylon cord

The tools that I used included...

  1. scissors
  2. a sharpie
  3. epoxy
  4. a stir stick/applicator
  5. cardboard
  6. pliers (two pair)
  7. a brick (for weight)

Step 2: Get a Plan

I found these ceramic bathroom tiles after an old building was torn down in my neighborhood. My wife and I thought they were pretty and that we should make a project with them some day. Today was the day.

My initial thought was to break the tiles into small pieces and make a mosaic. I still think that could be very cool, but the shapes that I had were perfect for a cross. And, with Easter on the way, it just seemed appropriate. So, I laid out my game plan in a simple cross.

Step 3: Make an Aluminum Backing

I needed something to serve as a backing to glue the ceramic pieces too. Aluminum seemed like the perfect thing...

  • easily available
  • doesn't corrode or rust
  • lightweight
  • won't add extra bulk or width

A regular aluminum can and a pair of scissors was all that was needed. I cut off the bottom of the can, cut it vertically straight up the side, then cut off the top. In picture 3 on this page I'm just cleaning up the edges a bit. As a result, I had an aluminum rectangle (picture 4). My "rectangle" wanted to curl up into a can-shape, so I gently bent it until it laid down flat.

With my cross design on top, I was ready to proceed.

Step 4: Mark It Out and Cut It Out

With the sharpie, I simply traced the outline of the cross. In the second picture, you can see how I narrowed the lines. The idea is to have the aluminum completely covered by the tiles (not visible). Next, I simply cut out the cross with the scissors.

Note: I goofed and didn't flip the aluminum cross over so the pretty/shiny side would be seen on the back of the cross (not the blue label side). Oops!

Step 5: Glue It Down

In case you didn't notice earlier, I used the cheapest epoxy from Wal-Mart. It's just called "5 minute epoxy" or something like that. Epoxy is great for lots of projects, but you have to be quick about things.

Have your tools and game plan ready. Time matters when working with epoxy.

Squeeze out a bit of the epoxy into a container. It comes in a syringe-like doo-hickey that spits out both the resin and the hardener together. One is clear, one is yellow-clear (not sure which is which, doesn't matter). Stir it up well. It will get a little cloudy looking. Use your stir stick to dab some epoxy onto the aluminum backing. I wouldn't go overboard because you don't want it oozing out all over the place--you'll have a mess.

Don't dawdle, because as soon as the resin and hardener meet they start curing. Place the tiles on the aluminum backing, then slide them into position. You have maybe two minutes before things get too sticky and gooey and then solidified.

I gently placed a brick on top just to press things down evenly and make good contact.

Wait. It says 5 minutes, but I'd go an hour just to let things harden well.

Step 6: Make a Latch

Since the plan was to make the cross wearable, I needed a loop or latch to attach a necklace. Again, I chose aluminum (won't rust or discolor). I simply used an aluminum nail. If you don't have one, copper would be my second choice, like a copper wire.

I simply snipped off the head of the aluminum nail, then bent it into a U-shape. Two pair of pliers were used. Then, with a bit more epoxy, I simply laid the U-shape down to make a latch atop the cross.

I decided the back with the blue side of the aluminum can (the wrong side) was too ugly. So, in the fifth picture with 2x2 images, I made a second backing. I (a) cut another aluminum rectangle, (b) sized up and cut out another cross backing, (c) pressed it down to kind of mold it, and (d) epoxy-glued it down. It looks better and no doubt added strength.

Step 7: Add the Necklace or Lanyard

I used some black nylon cord for the necklace/lanyard. I ran it through the latch, then again with the other end. By pulling the ends through the loop that results (see pictures 2 and 3), you make a knot that (a) won't slip and (b) will hold the cross flat and prevent it from spinning around. This is called a "cow hitch" or "lark's head knot" (pic 3)...a little trivia to impress people. I'm really not sure, but my guess is that the knot is called a lark's head because it looks like the head of a horned lark bird (look at the side-by-side in pic 4).

I used 32 inches of nylon cord, which was long, but measure off whatever length you desire. If you used nylon cord, be sure to light a match and singe/melt the ends to avoid fraying. Let it cool. Then, tie the two ends together. I used a square knot (left over right, right over left, pull tight).

Finito amici!

Bear your cross!

Jewelry Challenge

Participated in the
Jewelry Challenge