Intro: Wooden Air Plant Pendant
Are you someone who likes to always be surrounded by plants? Why not carry one with you around your neck?
This piece of original jewelry is a good introduction into small scale wood bending and mold making.
The materials you will need include:
Veneer (Make sure it is between 1/26th and 1/40th of an inch thick)
Blue Painters Tape
Foam Tape or Foam Rubber Sheet
1 inch Dowel
The tools you will need include:
Dremel Tool or Similar
They are also for sale on Etsy if you want to skip directly to step 9. (https://www.etsy.com/listing/129357018/wooden-air-plant-pendant?ref=shop_home_active)
Step 1: Cut Wood for Molds
Bent Lamination of wood requires molds. We will be making these molds out of plywood and a part of a dowel.
Cut three pieces of half inch plywood to about three by four inches. The exact measurement is not important but stay consistent.
Glue wo of those pieces together and wait for the glue to dry.
In the mean time cut a piece of your one inch dowel to about three inches long.
Step 2: Shape Molds
This is the trickiest step so be careful.
Cut your dowel roughly in half diagonally and keep the larger half. It may be easier to cut the piece off while it is still attached to the longer dowel.
With the belt sander sand it down to be exactly half round at the top and taper to nothing about two and half inches down.
With the spinde sander carve out an angled channel in your double thickness plywood piece. This channel should go from the top to about half an inch away from the bottom and be about half an inch thick. You want to be able to fit the dowel piece you just cut to fit in the channel with a tiny bit of space on all sides.
Round off the hard edges on the sides of the channel. The veneer will need to bend around that curve.
Now glue the dowel onto the single thickness piece of plywood so that it lines up with the channel when the two sides of your mold face each other.
Your molds are almost finished now.
Step 3: Tape Molds
We are going to use two types of tape on these molds. The foam tape will take up any extra gaps between your molds and make sure the veneer layers are glued tightly together. The packing tape is there to make sure your work does not get stuck to your molds.
Cut pieces of foam tape to go in the corners between the dowel piece and plywood and stick them on. Next cover the entire mold with foam tape. It is only necessary to cover one mold in order to take up all the gaps.
Now cover both molds entirely with packing tape.
Step 4: Glue Up Veneer
Now that the molds are complete it's time to make some bent laminations.
Start by cutting your veneer to the size of your molds. You will want four layers for each side. Two with the grain going vertically and two with the grain going horizontally. I replaced one horizontal grain piece with a layer of burl veneer.
Apply blue painters tape to one side of the two horizontal grain pieces. These will become the inside and outside layers of the lamination. The tape is there to keep the veneer clean and to keep it from splitting and leaving a gap.
Now apply glue evenly to the veneer and stack them up with the blue painters tape on the outside.
Place the layers between the two halves of your mold and clamp it all together. Seeing some glue squeeze out is not a bad thing.
You will need to do this step twice. Once for each side of the pendant.
Step 5: De-Mold and Glue Up
After waiting for the glue to dry it is now time to take the lamination out of the molds.
Start by removing the clamps.
Next remove the tape. This is harder than you might expect. Go slow and make sure not to peal any small pieces off of the wood surface.
Once you have done this with both halves of the pendant apply glue to the flat parts and clamp them together. Glue squeezing out here is more of a problem because it's way harder to clean up later. Be more mindful about the amount of glue used on this step.
Step 6: Trim and Shape
Cut the excess pieces off of your pendant with the band saw. I chose to make it a trapezoidal shape but you can really choose any shape for the flat parts.
Sand all sides with the belt sander to make them flat and square.
Use a Dremel to sand the edges and corners so that they are more friendly. (I don't have a photo of this step, sorry)
Step 7: Drill Sand and Finish
Drill two holes for the chain in the top corners of the pendant. I chose to use a Dremel for this step too although a drill or drill press would work just fine.
Next, sand the whole thing with sand paper stating with rough grit (maybe 80 or 120) and moving to a fine grit (400 or 600).
After it is as smooth as you want it to be blow off the dust and apply some wood finish with a rag. In order to get the corners on the inside of the pendant it might be best to dip it in the finish and then remove the excess with a rag. Multiple coats are almost always necessary when finishing wood.
Step 8: Add Chain
Use a pair of pliers to attach your chain. In my case I had to use a small copper wire piece to bridge the gap between the jump ring and the chain.
Step 9: Add Plant and Wear It
Air plants are best for this vase because they don't need dirt or water. Dried flowers would also be nice. I don't suggest using fresh flowers or live plants other than air plants. The wood is not likely to hold up well to excessive moisture or soil.