In a couple of weeks I will be doing a some workshops at my daughter's junior high school. I want an easy, fun project/technique that girls and boys might like... The school is very community and service oriented, so a recycled/re-use project fits the school theme. I will teach the kids to use soda can metal sheet to make pendant bases that can be embellished with wire lacing and beads. (and I will stealthily give the kids some lacing practice - most kids nowadays cannot even sew a simple seam!)
- empty, clean soda pop can
- craft scissors (NOT your good sewing scissors) or tin snips
- coarse sandpaper (120-180 grit) or cheap emory boards (nail files)
- wire - from craft store, salvaged from tranformer winding or magnet wire anything between 32 and 24 gauge will work.
- wire cutter
- small pliers- round and/or flat nose/chain nose or needle nose
- stack of news paper or mat to protect work surface from the awls
- tape - anything cheap and removable
- leftover seed beeds or bugle beads (optional)
- pattern shape or template (optional)
Step 1: Preparing the Pendant Blank
1. Wash and rinse soda pop can.
Remember to BE CAREFUL OF SHARP EDGES - hold metal by the center, not by the sharp edges.
2. Cut off the top and bottom with a craft/'junk' scissors or wire snipper. Slit side of can to make a flat sheet of metal foil.
3. Find some kind of pattern shape - plastic bottle lid, square of card board, small cookie cutter etc.
4. Decide if you want a plain silver pendant - use the inside surface of the can. Or, find an interest part of the outside of the can design.
5. Trace around your template with a pencil (faint line is fine, just enough to see the cutting line).
6. Neatly cut around outline. Lightly sand any sharp edges.
Step 2: Punch Lacing Holes
Decide what kind of lacing design you want to use. Easiest is to punch hole all around the edge and do a simple over cast lacing edge.
1. Set up punching surface - get a thick pad of newspaper or self-healing plastic cutting mat
2. Decide hole pattern. Holes should be at least 1/8 inch (2.5-3 mm) from the outer edge and about 1/8th-3/16th inch (3-4 mm) apart. You can use wider hole spacing as needed. For example, the ying-yang pendant has a lacing hole in the center.
3. Use an awl (or sharp nail) to unch holes from the top side. To help with even hole spacing, you can divide your shape into quadrants and punch a hole to bisect each section. Repeat to desired hole spacing. Flip metal over and re-punch the holes from the back side - wiggle the awl to press down some of the sharp edges.
4. Sand the back side with coarse sand paper or emory board. Remove enough material so no one will get cut or poked by the punched metal. I don't usually sand the holes completely flat, mainly to save time.
Step 3: Lace Wire Around the Pendant Edge
1. Select your wire color/type: note that enameled wire can be scratched as it is threaded through the holes.
2. Select optional beads to thread onto the lacing wire.
3. Simplest method is to overcast the edge. Lace wire through one hole and bend to secure (leave 1/2-1 inches of wire to secure the opposite end when you are done lacing). Thread any optional beads onto the wire. Lace wire over the outer edge and up through the next hole (from the bottom side). Pull wire snug - be careful not to kink the wire. Use your finger or pliers to keep wire in a nice loop as you pull it tight. Repeat as needed.
4. If you want a solid line of beads, use a back stitch and go trhough the same hole twice. From bottom side, skip to second hole and pull thread to the top, add bead and go down through the previous skipped hole. Skip to next second hole, repeat. This is how I did the center of the Peace symbol pendant.
hint: use CAUTION, but bugle beads can be cut/broken with a scissors to whatever length you need to complete your design. Grasp one end of bugle bead, put bead in a plastic or paper bag to catch broken glass, and gently squeeze the bead with the scissors until the bead cracks. BE CAREFUL OF BROKEN GLASS PIECES - make sure they all end up in the bag. Sand the broken end of the bead to remove any sharp edges.
5. Lace as desired to complete design. When you are done, twist wire ends together and form bail to hang your pendant. Wrap wire around itself to secure the end (or lace it back through a few holes). - SAFETY TIP - hold excess wire in one hand while you cut the wire, this prevents wire bits from flying around and possibly into your eyes etc. Carefully trim wire for a neat and finished look.
Step 4: Optional Embellishment
Wire frame with heavy wire bail:
Use a heavier gauge wire to form a a bail for your pendant. Then bend the wire to form a frame around your piece. Temporarily secure one end of the wire with tape. Gently bend wire to follow the outer edge of your shape. Leave some extra wire to finish off ends. Use a finer gauge wire to 'sew' or lace the wire frame to the base shape. WATCH for kinks!
Use permanent markers (Sharpies etc.), paint or alcohol inks to add color and/or details to your design as I have done in the yin-yang example/
Lace beads onto wire, attach one end. Use thinner wire to secure beaded wire - just like the wire frame method.