Do you ever walk past brutalist buildings and think they would make great accessories? Ever look enviously at the lovely grey colour of driveways at other people's houses? If so, you are in the right place. From the material that brought you smash hits such as house foundations and that stuff you use to hold fence posts in place I bring you a concrete necklace!
The sharp geometric shapes and soft grey colour bring a new lease of life to an often underrated material. In this tutorial I will show you how to make a piece of statement jewellery out of concrete, using no fancy tools (unless you count scissors as fancy!). This would make a great gift for anyone who prefers simple, elegant and impressive jewellery.
Step 1: You Will Need:
For this project you can mainly use things that you can find around your house or from the recycling bin - no specialist equipment needed! The only thing you may not have to hand is the concrete, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY stores - you don't need very much. You may notice in the picture that there is a hole punch; I was originally going to use this but it turned out it was broken!
- Stiff card (the type that you might make a birthday card out of)
- Corrugated cardboard
- Sellotape (the clear plastic kind, as wide as have)
- Scissors/craft knife
- Concrete (I just got a small tub from Homebase, but I think any kind would work)
- Lolly stick
- Something to stir the concrete in (I used an empty plastic tub that used to have fruit in)
- Old newspaper to protect your work surface
Step 2: Draw Your Design and Cut It Out
Any geometric shape will work for your design, but I recommend not having too many sides as this makes it quite fiddly to do. Also, make sure it's a decent size as otherwise it will fall apart when you eventually take it out of the mould.
In the picture you can see that I went for a simple rectangle (about 6cm by 2cm) for the purposes of this tutorial, however I have also shown how it would work with a more complex shape. Just draw out your shape on the stiff card using a pencil, then measure 2cm parallel from every edge to make a sort of flap bit on each side.
After you have finished this, cut out your shape. DO NOT cut out the gaps between the flaps (hey that rhymes!) because otherwise this will make it much harder to assemble the net.
Step 3: Fold and Tape
Using your ruler to help you, fold along every line that you have marked out in pencil, and give it a sharp crease. If you don't fold it enough now, it will be much more difficult to it once the tape is on.
Cover the whole shape with the tape, making sure none of it is uncovered. This will make it easy and clean to remove the pendant from the mould.
Step 4: Make the Hole Keeper
This little tube of paper will make sure there is a hole for you to put your string/thread/necklace chain through. Without it, you would just be making a little concrete shape!
Cut out a piece of stiff card that is about 10cm wide and roll it around a cylindrical pencil. Then cover this in tape as well
Step 5: Attach Hole Keeper
In the end of the hole keeper, cut four slits and press them out at a right angle to the tube. Then use tape the attach it securely to the main mould piece, making sure it doesn't lean to one side.
Step 6: Assemble the Net
Cut slits in the sides of the net and fold the sides upwards. Make sure that when you tape it together, the extra flap bit is on the outside not the inside, otherwise it could make the necklace bumpy.
Step 7: Make the Cardboard Support
The first time I tried making a concrete necklace, I just use the stiff card. The trouble was, when you added the concrete it sort of went out of shape because of the weight of the liquid. This time I cut out the same shape in corrugated cardboard to give it support around the edges so it would not bend. You will need to score along the lines for folding as otherwise it is hard to fold.
Then place the card mould inside, fold the sides up and - you guessed it - tape them together.
Step 8: Prepare Your Concrete
I am sure that if you looked you could find the exact proportions of concrete and water required, but I tend to do this bit by eye. Spoon some of the dry concrete into a mixing pot (I used an old plastic fruit pot) and add water. Then mix it together with the lolly stick, making sure there are no dry lumps left. If necessary, add more concrete or water as required.
Then pour the concrete into the mould you have made, using the lolly stick to help you spread the concrete evenly. You should especially make sure to poke the concrete around the hole keeper.
Step 9: Leave It to Dry
This is probably the most important stage of the whole process. It is also in some ways the most difficult - I always want to take out the concrete before it is ready, but this inevitably leads to it crumbling in my hands. I would recommend leaving it at least 24 hours to dry, maybe more, and don't fiddle with it while it is drying!
Leave it somewhere flat where it is not likely to be knocked over - I have a special bucket for this exact purpose, as you can see in the picture.
Step 10: Take It Out of the Mould
Once it is set, you are ready to remove the mould and reveal your necklace. Gently peel away both of the layers of cardboard. there will probably be some thin bits of concrete that stick up where it didn't settle flat, just break these off roughly with your fingers for now.
Twist the hole keeper out of the mould - it may take a bit of tugging. It helps to detach the flaps on the bottom of the hole keeper before trying to pull it out.
Step 11: Sand the Concrete
This bit is really down to your own personal taste. I prefer a rougher finish so I sanded it with some middle grade sandpaper, moving the necklace over the paper to make it a bit faster.
This does make a bit of a mess as there is a lot of dust, so it's best to do it outside, or you'll spend a long time hoovering afterwards!
Step 12: Attach the Cord/string/chain
I used a piece of red suede cord I had left over from another project but you could use anything that will fit through the hole.
I attached the cord using a slipknot. First fold the cord in half and slip the loop through the hole in the necklace. Then pull the ends of the cord through the loop and pull tight.
When you wear it, tie it up at the back with a bow or a simple knot so that it stays in place.
Step 13: Done!
Enjoy your unique new necklace. This was my second attempt at this process, and I made two main improvements. First I added the cardboard support so the sides were straighter and didn't bend outwards. Second, I poured the concrete slightly thicker, as last time I was a bit worried it might snap.
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