Often overlooked, popsicle sticks, tongue depressors and wood craft sticks all make great jewelry with only a few tools and materials. They are not difficult to make and with some imagination and creativity, you too can make beautiful wood jewelry.
They can be painted, stained, decorated and varnished. How you finish them is entirely up to you.
Step 1: Materials
Well obviously you need popsicle sticks, tongue depressors or wood craft sticks. The wider style is preferred over the skinny popsicle sticks, but they too can be made into jewelry. New or used is fine, just wash and dry them first if they are used.
For carved pendants, earrings etc., you will need a pencil and some small sharp tools to carve the material.
For cuff bracelets, you will need a pot of water, a stove, tongs (to remove sticks from boiling water), fabric pot holder and a small canning jar. Why the jar? Well its a nearly the perfect size for shaping the cuff bracelets. Canning jars are preferred if you want to speed up the drying process, otherwise, you can use any jam sized glass jar.
For all projects you will need sand paper in varying grits (medium & fine grit), wood varnish to protect finished pieces and a brush to apply varnish.
If you want to embellish your wood jewelry pieces you can easily use small stickers, sticker letters, nail art decals, or adhesive gems (normally used to decorate cell phones). All these can be inexpensively purchased from craft stores, or dollar type discount stores.
A drill and a small drill bit will be very helpful in getting the holes made for pendants or earrings, but I was able to make holes using the sharp tool I carved with, so this is optional.
If you prefer, you can easily paint or stain these pieces. Just ensure that the paints and stains you use are compatible with your varnish. Use all water-based or all oil-based products. DO NOT mix water-based and oil-based finishes.
Note: If you use adhesive gemstones, you will need to either apply additional layers of varnish, or consider purchasing a thicker varnish product, available through most home improvement or craft type stores.
Step 2: Pendants, Earrings and Other Carved Wood Jewelry
I've provided several images, but this is a fairly easy project. Just be careful using any sharp tools.
Start by drawing your design with a pencil. Then using your carving tool, carefully score a line around the design. This will help to prevent the wood from splintering.
Now consider where you should begin carving. In this case, I wanted to remove the top piece first and then work in the center, and finish by carving the bottom of the heart out of the design. You don't want to leave harder areas to carve or the center for last as the material becomes weaker as you remove more material. It's also difficult to work the center when you've already removed the shape from the stick.
When possible, stop and do some sanding while the shape is still attached to the stick as it'll be easier to work with.
Once the shape has been carved out, finish the piece by thoroughly sanding the piece smooth.
If you want to embellish your design, make sure to remove all the dust from the piece and then add decals where desired. After adorned, get out your varnish and brush the piece on one side and set aside to dry. After its dried, varnish the other side. Ensure you get all areas and sides coated with varnish to protect it. Additional coats may be required.
Allow to dry.
For pendants and earring, you may add jump rings to the holes. Pendants can be worn with a thin necklace or with any other cording material; and for earrings simply add earring posts (may be purchased inexpensively from a craft store or use parts from another set).
Step 3: Wood Cuff Bracelets
These wood cuff bracelets couldn't be easier to make.
Simply put sticks into a pot of water and bring to a simmering boil. Boil for about an hour, or until they are less rigid (test by using your tongs and try to bend them).
When they are pliable enough, you'll be able to take them out with tongs and using a pot holder, they should easily wrap around the outside of your glass jar. (Boil a little longer if they do not bend easily). Hold the stick (with the pot holder) against the outside of the glass for a few moments until you can handle the stick with your bare hands. Then take the stick and carefully bend it to the inside of the jar and leave it there to dry.
You can speed up the drying process by placing the heat proof canning jar into an oven on low (about 200F) until dried. In the oven, it may take a couple hours. Left to air dry, it will take at least 24 hours. You'll know when the wood has dried as it will begin to shrink away from the edges of the glass jar.
After drying, remove the sticks and give them a good sanding to a smooth finish. Wipe free of dust.
If you want to embellish your wood cuff bracelets, (make sure they are free of dust) and then apply decorations as you wish. After adorning your bracelets, apply varnish to the inside of the bracelets only and transfer to the inside of the glass jar to dry. Sometimes the varnish can cause the wood to straighten slightly, so allowing the varnish to dry inside the jar will help prevent this. After all coats of varnish to the inside of the bracelets are dry, varnish the outside and edges to ensure an even, thorough coat.
Allow to dry before wearing.