Introduction: Opal, Wood and Epoxy Resin Aurora Pendant
In this Instructable you will learn how to make a stunning Opal, wood and resin pendant. These pendants look like a miniature landscape with Aurora Borealis dancing in the sky! Whether you call them "secret wood pendants" or "Aurora Borealis necklaces" they are super fun to make.
Everything from the tools, materials and polishing techniques will be covered. This project has a bit of everything for beginners in woodworking, resin crafts and jewellery making. You won't need a workshop full of tools and you can make resin pendants like these with basic had tools (though power tools certainly help!).
--- Download my "Guide To Making Bent Wood Rings" here ---
If you're interested learning more about ring making then check out my course "Next Level Wooden Rings": https://bit.ly/2rCxSue
--- Materials Used ---
Glass Cast 10 Epoxy Resin
USA Epoxy Resin Equivalent: https://amzn.to/3us5pn8
--- Tools ---
Polishing wheels and compounds
Wet and dry sandpaper
--- PPE ---
Drager respirator mask
Drager chemical filters
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Step 1: Preparing the Wood Blanks
I listed all of the materials, tools and protective gear on the previous step so let's jump right in!
The first job was to prepare the wood and Oparex material and glue them together ready for casting. I used the bandsaw to cut a slices of the Mallee burl that were 47mm wide and around 15mm thick.
I also cut the Oparex on the bandsaw into 47mm squares. The material was pretty thin at 1.5mm and was easy enough to cut although it did snap a little. The cracks weren't a problem for this project as I was able to shape the pendant to get rid of any cracked material.
When both materials were cut to size I used a disk sander to make one face of the wood completely flat and then glued the Oparex to that side with C.A Glue.
Step 2: Creating a Mold
I used some scrap plastic packaging I had laying around, sellotape and a hot glue gun to assemble a makeshift mold around the blanks.
I found it tricky to make a mold with the hot glue gun and actually preferred just using the sellotape and bits of packaging.
Really at this stage I'd say it's just a case of doing whatever works for you. As long as you have plenty of space to pour the resin and your mold won't leak then you are golden!
My molds weren't pretty but they did the job!
Step 3: Mixing and Pouring the Epoxy Resin
Glass Cast 10/50 is really easy to pour and mix and I simply followed the instructions on the bottle.
Before using the resin I submerged it in hot water from the kettle for around 10 minutes and allowed it to cool. I did this because it said on the bottle that the resin could crystalise and become cloudy in cold conditions (it was snowing outside so I thought this was a good idea!).
I mixed the resin by weight (100g of resin to 45g of hardener) and stirred it thoroughly and slowly to try and avoid lots of bubbles.
After mixing the resin I poured it slowly into my molds and allowed it to cure for 7 days.
Step 4: Rough Shaping the Pendant
After the long wait it was time to liberate the blanks from the molds and see what I was left with ... I was impressed as you can see from my face!
The clear resin really made the colours of the Oparex material pop and I was super keen to start shaping the pendant.
I cut the blank down to a thinner width on the bandsaw (I'd maybe start with a 10mm piece of wood next time) and decided to opt for a circular design. I was thinking about trying to turn the pendant on my lathe but decided to do all of my shaping with the sanding disk just to make it more easy to replicate and show you that you don't need a lathe.
I traced around a small plastic pot with a pen and used this as a guide to shape the pendant on the sanding disk. If you decide to do this then take light passes and try not to focus one area on the disk for too long in order to keep the pendant as even ass possible.
The ideal width for pendant like this I think would be 4-5mm so I used the sanding disk to bring the thickness down too.
Step 5: Sanding the Resin
After the sanding disk the resin was pretty cloudy and the shape needed some refinement. I order to pre polish the resin and make the shape a bit nicer I hand sanded it with wet and dry sandpaper.
I used: 400, 800, 1200 and 2000 grit.
With each grit the resin became slightly more clear and really I recommend sanding to the highest grit you have available.
Step 6: Drilling a Hole for the Bail
Before polishing the pendant I used my drill press and a thin drill bit to make a hole at the top of the pendant.
Looking back I probably should have used a thinner drill bit to make a slimmer hole but I wanted the option of mounting the necklace on either leather chord or a bail.
We live and we learn right?
Step 7: Polishing
To bring shine and clarity to the resin I used a white polishing compound and a soft buffing wheel on my modified bench grinder (definitely don't use a grinding wheel haha!).
This made the resin beautifully shiny and clear while actually buff the wood a little too. To clean and residual compound of the pendant and wood portion I used some paper towel and surgical spirit/rubbing alcohol.
After a good scrubbing I used Chestnut products cut and polish on a different buffing wheel on the wood. This really made the wood super smooth and shiny!
Step 8: Assembling the Necklace
The final job was to assemble the necklace. In the end I decided to use a steel pinch bail to allow the pendant to hang from a silver chain. The pinch bail was easy enough to secure in place with a pliers.
I chose a silver chain because I'm a fancy man and I wanted to make it a fancy Valentine's gift for my girlfriend, however a pendant like this would also look lovely with macrame or leather chord.
Step 9: Give It to Someone Special
With the pendant assembled it was time to take some fancy photos of it and present it to my girlfriend. I'm glad to report she loves it and she can't wait to wear it out sometime when we are finally free from lockdown!
I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and you have a go at making your own. I'd love to see your work so please share it with me.
What do you think of this style of necklace? What shape would you prefer and would you have done anything different? Leave me a comment (a nice or constructive one preferably) and let me know.
Before you go if you're interested in learning more about making wooden jewellery then check out my links below.
--- Download my "Guide To Making Bent Wood Rings" here ---
Check out my course "Next Level Wooden Rings": https://bit.ly/2rCxSue
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