Google+ The Art of Friendly Plastic: Make a Faux Abalone Shell bracelet - Friendly Plastic Project Idea

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Make a Faux Abalone Shell bracelet - Friendly Plastic Project Idea

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One of my favorite things to do in my artwork is fool the eye into thinking that it's something...when it isnt! When you can combine that with inexpensive craft materials, that's all the better!

In this project tutorial, I will show you how to create the look of abalone with Friendly Plastic and design your jewelry frame from thin brass rods.

While this project is a tiny bit more complex, I am confident that once you get the feel for it, you'll be designing your own frames and really exploring all the possibilities to create unique jewelry with Friendly Plastic.  

Just take it slow and follow the step by step instructions :)

It helps to have a basic knowledge of soldering, but isn't necessary.  You could also use this abalone technique and simply cut out a circle or oval cabachon to incorporate into commonly found jewelry pendants and pendant blanks.

How to create Faux Abalone with Friendly Plastic

Designed by Linda Peterson
Skill level:  Intermediate - Some soldering knowledge helpful.

  • Friendly Plastic: Metallic Print Pearl, metallic gold, metallic silver, avocado, floral garden blue/black
  • Friendly Plastic Comb
  • WireForm® Thin Brass Rods (1 tube)
  • 4 brass jump rings
  • Brass craft wire 20 gauge
  • 6 Clear crystal glass cube beads (or beads of choice)
  • Clear nail varnish
  • Petroleum jelly or lotion
  • Solder
  • Flux
  • Soldering Iron
  • Hobby/Jewelry vise (purchased at Harbor Freight) (optional)
  • Pliers
  • Round nose jewelry pliers
  • Metal file (purchased at a hardware store)
  • Small circle cutters (Kemper cutters 1/8” and 1/4”)
  • Griddle
  • Aluminum foil
  • Non-stick cookie sheet (fits inside griddle)
  • Oven mits
  • Bowl of cold water
NOTE: Because of working with hot surfaces this project is not recommended for young children. Use caution when working with materials to avoid burns or injury.
Basics of soldering: Soldering is easy once you get the hang of it. Lightly sand the contact points of the rods with the metal file.  Brush flux on to the areas where the solder will join. 

You may want to practice with a few scrap pieces of metal rods first. Any lumpy solder points can be sanded smooth with metal file.

Create the brass frame first.
Create a loop in the middle of an 8” brass rod. Gently massage one side to make a leaf shape . Form a loop at the bottom. Repeat for other side.

Place in vise with loops facing up. Sand contact points with metal file. Add flux to the joints. Solder.
Create a coil from a brass rod. Do not trim off extra rod. Place the large focal piece into the vise, place the coil where desired and solder. Trim off excess rod and file smooth.
Repeat this with smaller coil. (note: rod is soldered to the back of the base leaf shape.)
For the side pieces , repeat these steps using a 4” long rods. No design in center. Create two.

Hints and tips for working with Friendly Plastic: Prepare the griddle by placing a non-stick baking sheet onto it. I also set a non-stick craft sheet on top of this. This makes it easy to pick up the piece with pliers and set it in the cold water without touching it. Coat fingers and tools with a light application of petroleum jelly to prevent the plastic from sticking. Repeat as necessary.
The warmer the plastic gets, the more gooey it gets. You will quickly learn how to use water and heat to control the softness of the plastic. You may want to practice first.
To touch up areas, simply heat with a heat gun for a few seconds to soften the plastic.
Keep discarded plastic as it can re-heated and used in several other projects. Nothing goes to waste.
Pre-heat griddle to 200 degrees or use a heat tool
Place Mother of pearl on top of a piece of aluminum foil and heat until soft. 

Place the brass frame onto the softened plastic and allow it to ooze upwards filling the frame.   Don’t worry about some of the plastic going into unwanted areas. Cool in water.
Gently remove the plastic from the frame and trim excess away with scissors.

Cut 1/4” strips of all remaining colors.  Place a non-stick sheet onto griddle. Lay strips as desired onto griddle and allow to soften.  

Remove strips from heat. 

With the marbeling comb bristles flat against the work surface gently drag thru design to create a marbelized pattern.  

If necessary heat again to slightly soften.  

Press frame work into this pattern and allow to cool  Remove, cut out shape and trim with scissors.  

You now have a white shape to fit one side of the frame and a marbelized pattern to fit the opposite side.

Pop both pieces back into place inside the frame.

Soften gold plastic and press to back gold side up to finish back. Trim as desired.
Add patterned Friendly Plastic to smaller side designs.

Slightly bend frame to the shape of your wrist.  
Apply a light clear coat such as nail varnish over the top to protect the finish.
 Allow to dry and repeat if desired.
Attach pieces together with jump rings.
Add a coil to bottom and an “s” loop for the hook.
Insert a wire into crystal glass beads. Loop each end. Attach to either side of center focal piece.

For your convenience, I've put together a kit of supplies for this project.  I do appologize in advance for the international shipping being so high - unfortunately, this is a direct charge from the US Postal Service as they have had a significant rate increase to international addresses.

Please select destination

We've got lots more techniques and Ideas for you to try - Here are some of our favorites!!!

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Linda Peterson is compensated and endorsed by AMACO. The guests features may or may not have any affiliation with AMACO.

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