Live the sparkly life with these cute pride rainbow jewellery pieces! Made in around an hour, with affordable materials including my all-time favourite air-dry clay, and the colours of the rainbow, you can celebrate the wonderful LGBTQ+ culture or your identity adorned with rainbows. I’ve never made jewellery before except for when I was on a holiday program in Taupo where we made necklaces out of pasta, well that ended badly after I put the hard macaroni in my mouth but that’s a story for another day… but there’s a first for everything.
Ignore my missing left curtain, it came right off the rails this morning: I realized last night that a third of the curtain hooks had come off and upon further inspection it was due to the plastic thingamabob that the screw at the end of the curtain is supposed to screw into, on account of it was totally missing and I couldn’t find it amongst that pile of junk on the left of my desk. I will glue the end of the railing to seal it off.
Here is the simple list, sans costs:
- Modelling wire 18gauge
- Clay/plaster of Paris + silicon mould making compound + rainbow toy/figure
- Clay sculpture tools
- Masking tape
- Clear gloss varnish
- Paints: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
- Modelling wire
- Necklace chain
- Split rings
- Large split ring/keyring
- Badge pin or safety pin
- Bowl of water
- Gherkin jar
- Iridescent acrylic medium (or matte if you wanna be boring and have no sparkle in your life - totally not judging you)
- Gloss gel medium
- Turps, gloves + safety glasses. For full protection invest in a chemical safety mask, however, the proper ones aren't cheap. But it might be worth it for your safety and for future projects too. 3m is a renowned brand if you do look into buying one. I have one but didn't use it cos I'm lazy
- Linseed oil
- Flexible usb fan so you can point the fan at the pieces
If no fan, resort to heater (not ideal)
Most of these supplies I already had from other projects, which helps with the cost. To avoid the separate shipping costs adding up fast, you can try to shop for the products from the same shop - best of luck with that; you might be hard pressed to find everything you need at the same place.
These are all from NZ shops, mostly both online and physical stores, and are in NZD and don’t include shipping costs. In order of appearance:
- Newclay Modelling Wire 30cm 18gauge 20pk $11.99 at Gordon Harris
- DAS Air-Dry Modelling Clay - White or Terracotta 500g/1kg $7.99/$14.99 at Whitcoulls
- Expression Clay Sculpture Tool Set 15pc $14.99 at Gordon Harris
- Plaster of Paris 1kg - $12 at Bunnings
- Activa Instamold mould making compound (powder) $25.30 at Takapuna Art Supplies
- Scotch masking tape 2050 18mm x 55m $5.99 at Gordon Harris
- Reeves Paintbrusheseeves Paintbrushes Oil Colour No.1 Pack of 5 $2 at Whitcoulls
- Reeves Gel Texture Gesso Primer 200ml $8.94 at Bunnings / Reeves Gesso Primer 200ml $11.99 at Whitcoulls (if you can’t get instore to Bunnings) / FAS Gesso 250ml – 4L $10.96 at Art Supplies
- Reeves Iridescent Medium 200ml $10.40 at Bunnings
- Reeves Gel Texture Gloss 200ml $12.98 at Bunnings
- Nitrile gloves powder-free blue 100pk $9.56 at Office Max
- Splash safety goggles anti-fog clear lens $7.22 at Office Max
- Art Spectrum Refined Linseed Oil 100ml $12.30 at Gordon Harris
- Art Spectrum Artists’ Turps 100ml $10.90 at Gordon Harris
- Reeves 12pk of 10ml acrylic paints $19.98 at Bunnings (buy in store only) / $22.99 at Whitcoulls
- Reeves Gloss Varnish 75ml at Bunnings / Liquitex Gloss Varnish 118ml Clear $16.99 at Warehouse Stationery / Cabot's 250ml Cabothane Clear Matt Water Based Polyurethane $24.50 at Bunnings
- Spacer (frilly), connector ring, round, 6mm diameter, 100pc $8.60 at Craft Runner
- Split Ring (keyring), 25mm, 316 stainless steel, each 61c at Craft Runner
- Split Rings, 6mm, antique brass plate, 100pc $3.61 at Craft Runner
- Gold plated cable chain by the metre 3 x 3.9mm $10.66 at Craft Runner [http://www.craftrunner.co.nz/chain-by-the-metre_1/gold-plate-chain-by-the-metre?product_id=2555]
- Gilt chain tab 100pk $3.26 at Craft Runner [http://www.craftrunner.co.nz/jewellery-findings/clasps/gold-plate-clasps?product_id=2438]
- Gold plated spring ring clasp 6mm 98c at Craft Runner [http://www.craftrunner.co.nz/jewellery-findings/clasps/gold-plate-clasps?product_id=2500]
- Gold plated stainless steel lobster claw clasps 10 x 6 x 3mm 78c at Craft Runner [http://www.craftrunner.co.nz/jewellery-findings/clasps/gold-plate-clasps?product_id=7119]rooch Back, hook catch, 20mm 79c at Craft Runner
- Flexible usb fan $15.78 at Ebay
And here we have it: $148.90, and that's not including shipping. Gulp. Here’s hoping you have some of the supplies already. That’s a calculation of everything but shipping cost and the plaster of Paris equipment and turps bulletpoints, and selecting only (the ideal) one of each different product listed.
- Clay sculpture tools: rinse the clay off these and let them dry in the sun where possible to prevent mould and cracks in the wood.
Instamold makes up to 1 gallon i.e. approx. 3.7 litres so at $25.30 ($6.80 a litre) I'd say it’s a steal, especially considering that similar products are very steep in price. It’s a good option especially as it’s non-toxic and doesn’t harm the item placed in it! You can purchase a food-safe version of Instamold too.
- Oil paint brushes can be used with acrylic paints and mediums, according to Doctor Google, so at a regular price of $2 at Whitcoulls, this set of 5 is an absolute steal - you won’t find cheaper. The great thing, on top of that, is that after you’ve done your acrylic work, you can use them for their main purpose of oil painting. Now that’s what I call handy 2019. As with anything you are more than welcome to go all out on the higher quality, higher cost brushes – think of it as an investment in your work or products.
- Reeves 12pc: you can get more expensive higher quality paints, but this is a good, reasonably priced starter pack with warm and cool versions of each colour. It has white and black, though pro-tip: black isn’t really necessary in art as you can create a muted black or grey/neutral with the colours you have using a mix of the complimentary colour of each colour to create a more natural black is rarely seen in nature save for the beady eyes of many animals. The pupils especially are and you should add a touch of cerulean blue mixed with white (speaking of which, white paint is more valuable to have than black) to the centre of the pupils. This is due to the fact the highlight in our eyes tends to reflect the blue sky. Likewise, if the subject is indoors with the curtains drawn and the light on, there will be yellow from the artificial lightbulb. A complimentary colour mixed black has a less stark than that being said, black is a must for painting or accenting a comic strip or imitating Japanese calligraphy ink on the cheap - but that’s a story for another day.
- I didn’t use the refined linseed oil because - besides the fact I used acrylics - I forgot I had it; I would have used it otherwise as it increases gloss and reduces the consistency of oil paints. Note that this product was previously $10.50 when I bought it back in about 2017 from Gordon Harris, my problematic fave (because I always shop too much there – poppycock, you can never shop too much at Gordon Harris!) - I know this because the price sticker is still on it.
- Varnishes: Get you some heavy-duty varnish to protect the rainbow keyring from the wear and tear of scraping against your keys. I Googled “heavy duty paint varnish” and oil-based polyurethane came up. My thinking is that because timber is harder than clay (citation needed), this polyurethane varnish - for timber - will be very sturdy. A major downside to oil-based polyurethane varnish is that “This finish goes on clear, but ages into a nuance of amber and may yellow over time.”, and a lesser downside is the high VOC level (toxic fumes). Another is the price at a whopping $24.50 a pop, but I’m sure that is actually cheap for what you get - but it can hurt a budget that is already stacking up already at $148.90. On the upside, "this type of varnish is more durable and most protective by being more resistant to moisture, heat or solvents than other varnishes."
You can use spray varnish which will eliminate brush strokes but people have complained about one of the ones I viewed (that it doesn’t spray evenly), and I feel varnish that is brushed on provides more coverage, and spraying can be messy and fumey.
Water-based polyurethane pros:
- Dries clear with no yellowing and is virtually scratchproof, which is a major pro
- Low VOC vs oil-based polyurethane’s high VOC
- Takes a long time to dry (approximately 12 hours)
I’ve now read that Liquitex polycrilic varnishes are non-yellowing - success! Besides those pros, it is also:
- Breathable, permanent and protects against UV damage, and dust. Evidently, I give a hoot about an Oxford comma, Vampire Weekend! I’m a stickler for punctuation!
- Runny consistency, challenging to apply well
- Dries very fast - hard to work with large pieces of wood
- Milky finish if applied too thickly on dark paint
According to The Saw Guy: “Polycrylic creates a durable finish and is great for surfaces that are very frequently used such as desks, kid’s furniture and tables.”, meaning that it is a great option for your keyring which tends to brush against your keys and jingle jangles.
We will use the high gloss varnish because we want to shine like the sun through a rainbow, or in the wise words of Rihanna: shine bright like a diamond. I have included all three varnishes for you to make up your own mind. Polyurethane is strong and has great adhesion. The polymer in Liquitex varnish is non-toxic, so we’re seeing a lot of definite pros for using Liquitex.
- The usb fan comes with stand X clip, has an LED light around the edge of the fan, each with two levels and on and off buttons. Choose from white, blue or pink.
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Step 1: Attaching Split Rings, Keyring, and Necklace
I clumsily stabbed a u-shaped wire in the top of the wet clay, crossing my fingers and toes that it would do the trick - but, funnily enough, it didn’t work: the wire just came out, as I should have expected. Wow such much varying punctuation! [insert doge meme here] (irrelephant side-note: I didn’t even know that doge was a real word - you learn something new every day and other clichés) Admittedly, the metal parts are very rudimentary and haphazard and probably will break with time but I wanted to make it fast to get in, this can always be a test run until you acquire proper jewellery and keyring parts. If you are making them to sell you definitely want to wait for the parts to ensure the quality of the jewellery. I would have done the following process if I had waited for the split rings to come in the mail but you live you learn: improvement is always possible and - allow me to gloat for a minute - that’s part of a good Instructable. we're all learning.
- For a stronger link to the connecting split ring or frilly necklace connecting ring - and so it doesn’t slip out of the clay - make a wire frame, in the shape of the rainbow (with pliers) to encase in the clay rainbow.
- Brace yourself: sore fingers incoming. Use tweezers to part the small 6mm connecting split ring and work it around the top of the wire frame. The connecting split ring should be just peeking out the top of the rainbow to connect the pretty little decorative “frilly” ring with no split that connects either the necklace chain or keyring.
- Separate the two ends of one of the mini split rings, pushing the second split ring on to interlock with the first one.
Complete steps 2 - 5, then proceed:
- Repeat above step 3 interlocking step for all split rings, about 5 or more if you’re after a longer chain.
- Connect the frilly ring to the big main ~2.5cm split ring keyring at the top to showcase it.
Connecting the badge piece
- Press the non-pin side into the back of the rainbow.
- Cut some extra clay and press it onto the back, over the non-pin side of the badge part.
- Use the shallow spoon shaped tool to make slashes across the edges of the extra clay, add water and press down the edges until the two bits of clay form a flat plane, connecting the extra clay to the back of the rainbow, sealing the badge pin into the clay.
Alternatively, superglue the pieces onto their rainbows, as I did.
Step 2: Sculpting Clay Rainbows
- Decide whether to wash your hands in the sink or put down a second bowl of water mixed with soap to skip the trip to the sink, and a rag towel to dry your hands on.
- Dip your fingers in the bowl and wet the piece of clay. Despite the temptation, avoid dunking the piece of clay in the bowl of water as (and I’m no expert) I feel like it waterlogs it or makes it break up.
- Start with the smallest rainbow first (the necklace) so that when they are drying, one of the three will be dry faster to start the next step (sanding or painting) while the other two finish drying.
- Cut the clay to the size that you need, about 5cm for the badge and keyring and 3cm for the necklace, all by about 3-4cm thickness, with a knife or your wooden moulding tool that looks like a knife.
- Sculpt the clay into a rainbow shape, sharpening the edges a tad or round them out to a bevel: repeat for however many pieces you are making. For the purpose of this Instructable, I am making three.
- Put the rainbows on your gherkin jar and leave with the fan or heater pointed on them from a close distance to speed up the painting process in between coats/colours. I used a heater before I managed to find my trusty (dusty!) little pink usb fan that I thought I must have thrown out, but it was hiding in plain sight in a corner on my drawers, it’s amazing how much junk you can keep on those things. Finding it honestly made my day.
- Open the window for that extra drying help with the breeze.
- Wash your hands after you’ve finished or use your second bowl of water.
Put a hand cream or moisturiser on your hands, coconut oil is good.
These pieces took 10 - 15 minutes to sculpt.
Semi-segue regarding mould-making vs. hand sculpting each piece:
Another idea is to buy or make a rainbow cutter stencil (baking cookie cutter maybe) and cut them that way or use liquid setting silicon to make a mould but I think that would require sculpting a rainbow anyway, or you could use a toy rainbow but it would need to be the same size as your intended jewellery sizes.
Note: skip this paragraph if you don’t want to use plaster of Paris.
The silicone mould would entail using a pourable alternative to clay, the only one I know of being plaster of Paris, which you can buy 1kg for $12 at Bunnings. I assume that’s good value for money as for jewellery you will be wanting to make a lightweight mix with a ratio of 50:50 water to plaster of Paris (so you get double the poP) and it expands slightly as it dries. It should last you a good while and you can make a world of things with it! Plaster of Paris is a good option as the poP is lighter than clay and with poP and the silicone mould you can make as many little (or big!) rainbows as you want, and start that little Etsy shop you’ve been meaning to open for years, etc. Be very careful if using plaster of Paris, wear a dusk mask, and keep the liquid silicone and poP away from children as the poP has a burning reaction as it sets and can really mess up your hands if you submerge them in it. It’s like faster-drying cement and you can’t get it off without professional help. For goodness sake, please wear gloves, and consider safety glasses.
That all being said, the hand-sculpted rainbow has a bespoke, one of a kind element to it which you lose with the (literal and physical!) cookie cutter method.
I only have clay for the moment (but now you’d better believe I’m eyeing up that 1kg bag of plaster of Paris), so I’m sticking with my problematic fave - problematic because I keep buying it whenever I see it.
I left mine to dry overnight but with a heater/heat pump/fan on, and depending on the thickness of your rainbows, you can get these dry in under an hour (I made this initially for the one-hour contest, or the rainbow contest - but sadly missed the deadline. C’est la vie). I would recommend the fan over a heater or direct sunlight, as the heat and uv light can crack the clay as it dries.
Get yourself a coffee and a bite to eat while you give it a little time to dry, and set yourself to some other task as you wait. I recently sifted through the paper junk and letters etc on my bedside table and at the time of writing I still have them yet to sort them into my home file so that I can sleep with a clear head. That and trying to find my pink flexible usb fan (which I really hope I didn’t throw out in the house) moves fills my time between drying. Here’s the photo nobody asked for of the paper pile and the aforementioned baby pinecones. You can work on your Instructables write-up while you wait, make hay while the sun still shines.
Alas, my babies are dry! Obviously the smallest one will dry fastest, so get started painting as soon as that is dry.
Step 3: Pride Painting
Now to get painting. You can include the black and brown (representing the people of colour in the community) in the flag. You can read up on it for more information.
- Set up your palette (plastic for acrylic, wooden for oil).
- Paint acrylic primer first to transform the clay into a smooth yet grippable surface.
- Mix the acrylic gloss medium with the iridescent gel medium and the paints.
- Paint the rainbow in the six colours in the following order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
- Leave to dry with the fan and/or heater. Paint as many coats as needed – I didn’t need to except for yellow which isn’t as opaque.
- Paint iridescent, glossy, metallic gold over the back, sides and bottom of the rainbow. Leave to dry.
- Perform any fixups like I had to, before you carry on to varnishing.
- Voilà! (using the French letter àccent because I’m a cultured buzzy bee)
I tried to video this step, the wire attaching steps, and varnishing the painted rainbow but I am not very experienced with tripod videoing and the autofocus settings didn’t seem to want to work with me, therefore all the videos were mostly out of focus and the camera kept refocusing which was noisy and distracting. I know there is a function in Adobe After Effects (which I have) to stabilize the video, but there was no point if everything was out of focus anyway.
Step 4: Varnishing the Rainbows
There are a few options to clean the brush if you’ve left the poor thing to go crusty overnight like I did:
- Hot soapy water
- Or the most drastic measure: artists’ turpentine
I used some turps to clean the brush, as it is touted for cleaning them: admittedly it did not go so well, I used a toothpick too, to try and separate the hairs. Arm yourself with safety glasses and gloves, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area to air out the room from the fumes. It goes without saying but please, don’t eat the turps, or even inhale it. I’ll go ahead and assume you don’t want that stuff anywhere near your eyes. You’ve been warned, be careful.
A breakdown on the difference between mineral turps and gum turps is outlined here (comment 3 which I’ve hyperlinked (distraction point: anyone remember that old program Hyperlink Studio? Man that was the bomb, bracketception)). Also, note the quote: “It can cause many mental problems and is one of the reasons why so many of the great artists were certifiable nut cases. Don't be fooled into thinking that natural is always better. Often times is definitely is not. :eek:”. Hmm. Controversial.
I’ve got the brush soaking in hot soapy water, so hopefully that’ll be the score. Edit: it kinda worked. It was good enough.
- Wrap the attached jewellery silver or brassware in duct tape to protect it from the varnish (garnish?)
- Pour a small amount of gloss varnish over what is probably dried paint now if you haven’t cleaned your palette.
- Brush all over the rainbow as you would with painting, and don’t miss the bottom, leave to dry between coats and varnishing the bottom and tops, sides + front.
- Leave to dry and apply subsequent coats if needed.
Step 5: Photos
Photos! If you’re pro like me (literally, I just got a free pro membership for my couture buttonholes Instructable, pretty snazzy!), get out a shooting tent and photograph the final pieces, experiment with angles, lighting, backdrops, and hanging the jewellery using thread taped to the top inside of the photo tent. Crack out Photoshop, and Bob’s your uncle! Apparently one of my parents has an uncle called Bob - clichés in real life. I hope you have enjoyed my Instructable and that it was, well, instructive. I hope you will join me in celebrating the LGBTQ+ community identity and culture. Love is universal. Also, check out my Peter Alexander Toy Story sweater. I love it!
Also, I just realized that emojis don’t work on Instructables (insert sadface here cos I literally can’t) so just imagine emojis sprinkled everywhere like faerie dust. I feel like this information might help other users: I just learned - after a series of emails to the helpful Instructables staff, and after trying everything from editing on my phone, logging in and out, using an incognito window, to trying Firefox and Opera - that using emojis bring up an error message that doesn’t let you save your Instructable progress.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for bearing with me and my cheesy quips and retorts.
Participated in the