Introduction: Pride Washer Necklaces

About: Just a crafty, Jewish, queer, transguy who likes to make old things new again, and new things look old.

Pride season is almost here! If you're like me, you might already be putting together your outfits for the various parades, festivals, and parties that will take place throughout the month of June. And don't forget, this year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots!

Here's a fun project to customize your Pride look with some versatile and easy to make jewelry. Need a look that says "queer and here to recycle and re-purpose some old stuff?" Or maybe "butch and beautiful," or "femme and fantastically handy?" No matter what look you're going for, these necklaces can take it to the next level.

And sure, rainbow pride is classic, but don't forget there are lots of other pride flags out there. Are you trans and want to wear your trans pride flag colors? Do it! Pansexual and proud? Wear it! The sky is the limit here for representing your identity in the LGBTQ+ community.

Here's what you'll need to get started:


  • Washers (I recommend 1/2 x 1 1/2" steel)
  • Sandpaper (mid-grit, around 80-120)
  • Paints (while you can use almost any kind of paints, I used Testors enamel paints)
  • Mod Podge Dimensional Magic
  • Painters Tape
  • Paintbrushes (having a few sizes is helpful, but make sure to have something small and fine for detail work)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • [Porg for modeling purposes is completely optional. But let's be honest, we all deserve a porg in our life]

Step 1: Prep the Washer

First, many washers have slight differences in the sides: one side will have a more rounded edge, the other will have a harder edge, or even a bit of a lip. Personally, I prefer to paint the side with the lip, leaving the rounded side for the back.

Grab your sandpaper and rough up the side that you'll be painting. No need to go overboard, just make sure it scuffed up good.

Step 2: Mark It Up

First, figure out which flag you're painting and how many stripes there are. Then, figure out the width of each stripe to fit the washer. Since I was painting a bunch of these, I made some templates on a piece of paper, to make it easier.

I used pencil to mark the lines. If things are slightly off, it's not a big deal, but try to get it as precise as possible.

Step 3: Tape and Paint!

At first I used scotch tape to protect the lines. And to be fair, it worked ok. But painters tape is much better and comes off much cleaner.

Yes, paint one line at a time with a few coats, let it dry, then peel the tape and move on. This is the part that will take the longest, especially if you sit and watch the paint dry (not recommended). I honestly would paint it, walk away and do some chores, read a bit, whatever. Then come back to it, paint it again, and repeat for each line.

Pro-tip: When peeling up the tape, I used my ruler to press down on the painted portion, just to make sure none of it peeled up.

You'll want a fine brush for this work, especially after the first stripe. I only taped on the unpainted side, letting the natural raised edge of the paint to keep me within the lines. Sometimes you might slip up and get paint on the neighboring portion. It's fine, just correct with paint and move on. Small slips aren't going to be too noticeable, I find.

Regarding the paint types. Yes, you can really use almost any kind of paint here: anything that will adhere to metal. Acrylic worked fine, and it's pretty cheap. However, personally, I preferred the Testors model enamel paints. They go on really nice, and have a good sheen (that you can't really see in the pictures). Plus I had a bunch already, so why not use them, right?

Step 4: Adding the Clear Coat

I let the paint dry a significant amount of time - preferably over night - before coming in with the Mod Podge top coat. Better to be safe than sorry, in my book.

A few notes about the Mod Podge:

  • DO NOT shake it. You don't want any air bubbles in your coat, and shaking it creates those bubbles.
  • Put on a thin layer, using the tip of the applicator to spread it out, all the way to the edges.
  • Try to remove any air bubbles as you go. I just pushed them over the sides/edges of the washer.
  • As you can see in the picture, it goes on cloudy. Don't panic. It will dry clear.
  • However, if you apply too much of the coat, it will be a little cloudy and mute the colors.

This is another one I let dry over night. Just apply the clear coat and walk away. Then come back and be surprised how pretty it is once it clears up!

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Here's where you get to be real creative. You can use really any materials for a necklace here. Or even a bracelet. For a more simple look, you can use leather cordage and a knot to secure it. For more elaborate looks, add beads, chain, or even smaller painted washers together.

Just be creative and go with what speaks to you!

Hope you enjoyed and Happy Pride month everyone! Go out there, be fabulous, be proud, and most importantly, BE YOU!

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