You will need a few supplies, but first, I want to show you where to go. This is it: it's a shop in Ann Arbor called Found. I promise you will love it.
If you want to visit their website, just click on the picture above, and you can see all the very pretty things they have for you to buy. But remember to stay focused: you're supposed to get a Patera pendant (that's Italian for little tray) (because, as you see below, the thingies are a little like trays--little ones). Also, get a bottle of Gel du Soleil, which is a Very Important Liquid. And don't forget to pick up your instruction sheet, just in case. Just in case you're tempted to buy the supplies online, I want to urge you right now to get up and go to the shop. (I'm going on Thursday, if you want to join me. Thai for dinner!)
This is what I bought. It was only 3.50! Three dollars and fifty cents. Crazy, I know.
I also bought this nice guy. I think he was 4.50. I know, I was surprised too. And the funny thing is, I had just left a book store that also sold jewelry and I was oogling at some *already made* pendants, thinking Oh, I wish I knew how to make one of these and also thinking because I sure don't want to plop down 18.50 for something I can probably make myself. If, that is, I had the right supplies. So, imagine my shock and elation when I strolled into Found and (ahem) found these two. And there were more shapes and designs, too. I just didn't want to go crazy and buy every single one before I'd tried making one.
So, the next thing to do is to figure out what you want to put inside your little guys. You can simply cut out patterned paper, which would have been very simple. But, I thought, a little too simple. For Kir must make things as tricky as possible. First, I tried to email one of my students, who is a masterful artist. I was hoping I could commission her to draw me a Tiny Little Cool Thing which I would then cut to fit into one of my little guys. Alas, she ignored my email. I am hoping she was just too busy with summer to reply. That's what I've been telling myself.
Since she didn't feel ready/able/willing to help me, I had to help myself. So, I traced the shape of each piece onto its own piece of watercolor paper. I made lots of 'em because sometimes I make mistakes and I like to plan for lots of them. Besides, it's more fun to make lots of little drawings rather than just one. Here are a few of my first few sketches. That's a badger in the top left corner, and I think the guy below him is a squirrel, but I'm not sure (sometimes it's just hard to differentiate between rodents). Also, I tried drawing a little girl. I really wanted to draw a fox but he wasn't cooperating with me. So, I gave up on him for awhile.
Next comes the fun part. The painting. These (below) are the drawings I made for the ring (that's why they're square). I obviously didn't like that tree in the bottom corner. Far too silly for me. But the alligator has a nice smile, and everyone knows mice love balloons. Especially mice who wear aprons. (You may have thought it's a skirt. It's not.) Oh, and once the paint dries, you can outline stuff with cool archival pens like I did. Makes the image pop right out.
Once you find one you like, poll everyone in the house and make sure it's a unanimous choice. Mustn't be too hasty to cut, my friend. Then, once they've all cast their votes, go with your original impulse and cut out your favroite. Democracy only goes so far in the crafty world.
You may have to shape it a little to fit because obviously, if you traced the outside of your pendant and ring to get the basic shape, you'll be making your drawings a little big. Try not to cut it down too much, but if you do, console yourself with the reminder that even the Amish aren't perfect.
Once you've got your paintings (or patterned paper) cut to fit, use a paintbrush to apply a thin coat of Modge Podge to the inside of the pendant (or ring). Then stick your painting (or what have you) in place and apply another coat of Modge Podge over top. You might be tempted to skip this step because maybe you don't have Modge Podge. Don't do it! (Ok, the truth is, you can use any decoupage-ish sort of glue. I just said Modge Podge because it sounds cool and it rhymes. I used some 0ff-brand stuff myself.) It's really important because it seals your image and keeps the colors fresh and in their rightful places (i.e., your ink won't run).
Once the Modge Podge has dried, you get to uncork the Gel du Soleil. Basically, this is a UV activated epoxy. (And I want to warn all you psychotic substance-sniffing readers: the fumes are very, very heady. So get close--very, very close.) (But, all you wives-of-husbands-who-use-epoxy readers: it doesn't smell like dog poo like HIS epoxy does--so that's a huge relief.)
Start at the outside and work your way in. I traced around the outer edges with my Gel du Soleil and worked my way to the middle. If you get a bubble, don't try to pop it with a pin like the instructional videos recommend. I chased one pesky bubble around and around my pendant for a Very Long Time. Then I became wise unto the ways of the World of Patera and used a toothpick. Pop! It was over. (I'm talking about the bubble.)
Set your dudes in a (level) sunny spot to dry. Let the first layer dry for about 20 minutes, and then apply another layer. Some pendants (or rings) might be deeper than others, so they might require more layers. My ring needed three layers and my pendant needed four.
1) However much you are tempted to, DO NOT touch the surface of the Gel du Soleil as it's drying. Your fingerprint will be captured forever.
2) Please make sure your painting is facing the right way. My poor little narwhal shall always be a bit more seasick than any right-minded narwhal should be. This is because I glued him in totally sideways. He'll have to spend his entire life looking at my pinkie instead of out at the world. (Don't judge me: I'm a novice.)
After applying the last layer of Gel du Soleil, let the dudes dry overnight, just to be safe.
Meanwhile, if you're like me, you may decide to look at the calendar while exhaling those last fumes of you know what. If, upon calendar-ish perusal, you suddenly realize that you did indeed totally miss making (and, 0f course, mailing) birthday cards to not one, not two but three people, you can use some of your extra paintings to make tiny little birthday cards.
You can even make tiny little envelopes to put them in. And then, you can put that in a bigger envelope and a bigger one and a bigger one--until you have a whole Russian nesting doll set of envelopes for someone very lucky to open. Hopefully, said person will feel so lucky that she totally forgets how sad she was that she didn't get a card from you on her birthday.
Well, class, I hope you enjoyed your lesson today. If you'd like some more help or advice about making a pendant, here is a website you can visit for an instructional video--and here is another video. Or, if you are either a) a lazy bum, or b) geographically distant from Ann Arbor, or c) a Wolverine hater, here is a website you can visit to buy the charms online.
So, the supplies:
Patera Pedant or Ring
Gel du Soleil
Modge Podge (or similar stuff)
Watercolor paper or patterned paper
Scissors (I like to use really small scissors)
Pencil, paintbrush, paints, archival pen...
Toothpick (just in case of bubbles)