I got the idea for how to make this happen from ChrysN's Instructable titled Wood Pendant Necklace.
This past Christmas I wanted to get my wife something that she would love... without spending a fortune. We had decided to make all of our son's Christmas gifts (some of which I have documented in my other Instructables), so I thought maybe I could make something for my wife as well.
So, armed with the info I got from ChrysN's instructable and my tools I set out to accomplish the impossible: make a heartfelt Christmas present, that had meaning, on my lunch hour at work, over the course of about a week.
Somehow it worked.
(I do want to apologize ahead of time for many blurry pictures. I discovered the macro feature about halfway through this project.)
Step 1: Materials
There are endless variations of this project, but to do it the way I did it you will need:
-"Rectangle/Signs" (I used Lara's Crafts brand, from Michael's)
-Mod Podge Puzzle Saver
-Printed medium (for back of pendant, I'll explain more later)
-Findings (these are the clasps and little rings you use to attach things)
-Small needle nose pliers
-Drill with tiny drill bit
Step 2: Shaping Your Pendants
The first thing you need to do is to decide on the shape you want your pendant to be, and the design you want on it. I wanted each one to be different but to also mean something. My wife loves penguins and fleur de lis, and then I decided to make another one with our inititials (that's her's, mine, and our son's).
I drew each design with a pencil and then drew the shape I wanted the pendant to be. After drawing them I also went over the design with an exacto blade to try and give the wood burner a path so I could draw a steadier line.
You can go ahead and drill the holes now. It's helpful to do this now when the pendant is still full sized and slightly easier to hold.
Once I had the designs and shapes drawn I used files to get all of the extra wood off of the sides. If you have a lot of wood to remove you can use a small saw, just be careful. The wood isn't terribly strong and can splinter very easily. I rounded the front edges, and the back edge on the penguin, but left the back edge on the other two squared off since I was going to back them.
When all of the extra wood has been removed sand the edges down really well. Sand the back and front, but be careful not to sand the design off. If it does start to come off you can always redraw it once your done sanding.
Step 3: Wood Burning
This step is pretty simple. Simply trace your design with the wood burner. Be sure to follow the directions that came with your wood burner. These things are really small, so it can be really easy to burn your fingers. I pressed each one firmly against the table with a finger or two to keep it steady.
Once I finished burning the design in I went back over it with an eraser to clean up all the pencil marks.
Step 4: Creating Your Pendant Backing
The back of the fleur de lis pendant has the definition of love, and the back of the initials pendant has the definition of family. What I really wanted to do for this step is to find an old dictionary and cut out some word definitions to paste to the backs. Unfortunately, or fortunately for any dictionaries around, I couldn't find any so I decided to mimic the effect. If you have a dictionary you're willing to sacrifice this step could be a lot easier...
First, I copied the definitions I wanted into a word document. I made it look "official" by including all of those little symbols that tell you how to pronounce words correctly, and by picking a font that looked like I thought a dictionary should look. Then I printed it in several different size fonts so I could hold it up next to it and see which one fit best. Because the shapes I used don't match how a dictionary would be printed I planned for it to trail off the edges.
Once it was printed I took it to the break room and made some coffee.
No seriously. The paper was brilliant white and I had to do something about that. I poured a little coffee into a mug... and drank the rest. I used a foam brush to brush the coffee over the paper. I let it dry in between each coat so that it didn't get overly wet and soggy. It still curled a little on the edges, but for the most part is stayed pretty flat. The end result was a nice "antiqued" looking dictionary definition.
Obviously you could use a lot of other things as a backing, such as pictures, personal letters, wallpaper taken from your first house, anything that sparks a particular memory or feeling really, so long as it's made from paper.
Step 5: Backing Your Pendant
Place your pendant on your backing and trace around it. Cut the backing out just inside the line you drew. If you're not sure about where you want it to sit, you can also cut it out a little big and then trim the edges after you've glued it on. I did that for the square pendant.
Using a foam brush (it came with the bottle of modpodge I bought) brush some of the puzzle saver glue onto the back of your pendant and press the backing in place. Make sure you cover the whole back before you put the backing on, but don't spread it too thick. Let it dry for a little and then trim any excess off the edges and pierce through the paper where you drilled the hole.
Brush the mod podge over the backing to seal it. Once again, don't brush it too thick. You want it to be a thin, clear sealer. I put several coats on to make sure it was good and sealed, just make sure that you let it dry between coats. I also coated the whole thing in mod podge instead of just the back. I wanted it to have a more uniform finish. Use a paper clip to clear out the hole after every coat so it doesn't harden and seal it up.
Step 6: Attaching the Hardware
There are a lot of ways to do this part that are easier than the way I did it. That being said...
I bought a long length of chain that would be enough for all of the necklaces. Then I bought a bag of "findings". (Something like this: http://www.michaels.com/Industrial-Chic%E2%84%A2-Findings/bd0919,default,pd.html?start=10&cgid=products-beads-findings). I also bought a length of copper wire.
I didn't want to just use one of those little rings to attach it to a chain. I wanted it to look more "special" (i.e. do it the hard way). So, I took the copper wire and wound it into a coil (anything round should work for this) and fed it through the hole in the pendant. Once it was through I used the excess wire to wrap around the ring. (I didn't do that part for the penguin). You can see what I mean in the picture of the fleur de lis pendant. This is definitely when it's helpful to have a very small pair of needle nose pliers. After you finish the wire just attach one of those tiny rings and run the chain through it. My chain was all one piece, so I cut them to the length I wanted. Then attach whatever clasps you want on the end.
This makes it sound a lot easier than it was. That wire was hard to work with. The hardest thing was to keep it from getting a lot of kinks in it.
Step 7: Gift Them!
I put each necklace in its own small box, wrapped them in brown paper, painted each one with one of my wife's initials, tied a ribbon around each one and stacked them on top of each other. She loved them! I wish I had remembered to take pictures of them wrapped.
I hope you were inspired to make some cool and memorable jewelry for a yourself or a loved one. If so, let me know what you did differently and what types of things you used to back your pendants.