Hey Instructables, here's how I turned some random doodles by my 2 year old toddler into some fun ombre costume jewelry for all the ladies in my family.
These were a last minute gift idea for Christmas, and I got about a dozen pairs of earrings done over just a few hours. Turns out, this is a sure-fire way to please the mother, grandmothers and aunties in your child's life! Brownie points for me, and warm fuzzies all round.
Step 1: Have a Kid
Beg, borrow, or steal a kid. (or not)
Assuming you already have a kid, give the kid some paper and a pen under the guise of 'child development'. My toddler went a little wild here. You might need to reign them in a little! Treats or threats can help.
Scan in the doodle, and increase the contrast to get a nice clear black and white image.
Step 2: Choose the Best Parts to Show Off
What's that? A heart? Believe it or not, my child actually did draw this semblance of a heart upon request. I guess the expensive childcare is paying off.
(The second scribble was just a random spasm of his two-year-old hands, but it turned out pretty cool so I'm keeping that one. It looks like a dragonfly wing or something to me.)
Just crop the images of the doodle till you get a piece or pieces that you like, which might work as pendants or earrings. Trust me, this part is a bit like monkeys on a typewriter. Even a 6 month old will produce something useable here, you just have to work a little harder yourself.
Step 3: Vectorise and Laser Cut
Here's the technical bit: once you've cropped your favourite bits of the doodle image, convert the jpgs into vector outlines using an online tool. I used https://www.autotracer.org/, and saved the converted file as a dxf.
I had to do a little clean-up in AutoCAD, before saving the files back as a .dxf for laser cutting. My cut file is shared here if anyone wants to use it. Feel free!
I laser cut many copies of the parts out of 3mm acrylic and 3mm veneer plywood as well. If you don't have access to a laser cutter, you can try a local service or an online service such as Ponoko.
Step 4: Spray Paint the Pieces
So I'm a total noob at making jewelry. All that gold stuff in the stores is just spray paint, right? Must be, cuz that's all the gold I had in my workshop.
I spray painted the 'heart' scribbles in various colours - black worked great, in keeping with the pen-doodle idea.
White and blue looked nice too, for a younger look.
The gold spray paint was a little lackluster (literally!), but what do you expect from a $5 can of spraypaint. I like the concept of these metallic doodles though. I may have to order them 3D printed in stainless steel or silver from Shapeways for my wife some day.
Step 5: Glue Parts Together (if Any)
For the heart doodles, I experimented with adding a thicker border around the perimeter to accentuate the abstract heart shape. (Trying to salvage the rather poor drawing. Remind me to find a new artist!)
The outer border was laser cut in 3mm plywood, and the parts were superglued together with contrasting colours paired up.
Step 6: How to Ombre
For the 'dragonfly wing' parts, I cut these out as long dangly earrings (about 75mm/3") in acrylic. These looked a little flat as a single colour, so I tried to do a gradient of colour on them with spray paint.
It actually worked! Just hold the spray paint a little further away, and make light passes over just one half of the object being painted. Flip them over when dry and repeat the process.
I used white/gold; black/gold; and white/blue colour combinations.
Step 7: Add Earring Hooks
Earrings need hooks. I ordered a whole bunch of non-allergenic sterling silver earring hooks online for a few bucks.
To install the hooks, use two pointy pliers to open the split-rings. Bend the points away from each other (imagine holding a steering wheel near the top with both hands - then push one hand forward and pull the other hand back towards you). You do not want to open the ring sideways into a bigger circle, as it will not close nicely into the same small ring as before.
Insert the ring through the earring piece, and close the circle again. Pay attention to the direction of the hooks. There will be a 'right' and a 'wrong' side to each earring, so make sure the nicer side faces forwards.
(Yeah these photos were of a different pattern I also cut out, that was basically a rectangular crop of my child's doodle.)
Step 8: Bonus: Wood-inlay Pendant
I thought the 'dragonfly wing' design would make a nice pendant too. So I scaled up the design to about 150mm/6" long and cut the outlines out of white acrylic. The inside inlays were cut out of walnut veneer plywood.
The pieces were inlaid and superglued in place, and the wood was finished with a wipe-on oil finish.
This was then linked to a fine 1mm silver chain I bought online. The idea is that this pendant should hang horizontally, across the chest.
Step 9: Enough Jewelry to Set Up a Shop!
So here's how the pieces turned out. I really like the ombre ones in particular, but the quirky heart pieces were of course the most endearing to all the doting grandmothers and aunties.
Super duper important note: make sure you give your wife first dibs! The mother of your talented young artist child deserves to keep the best of the lot for herself. Ignore this warning at your own risk.
Step 10: Gift-wrapped and Ready to Go!
Last but not least, presentation is everything! I cut out some rectangles out of heavy card stock, and just snipped two slits in the top edge of the rectangles to hold the earring hooks.
These fit into clear plastic baggies, for gifting. I wish I had time to do some custom labels, but a little gift wrapping paper was all I had time for, as I finished these only on Christmas Eve!
Enjoy. If you like this, give me a vote in the Jewelry contest. Thanks!