CraftsDrawingPaintingPhotographySculptureTextiles & Sewing

DIY Craft Tutorial: How to Make Jewelry Charms from Recycled Materials

Updated on July 21, 2016
purl3agony profile image

Donna enjoys using her arts background to create fun craft projects with a special focus on using repurposed or handy household materials.

How to Make Charms for Bracelets and Necklaces from Recycled Materials
How to Make Charms for Bracelets and Necklaces from Recycled Materials | Source

Handmade charms are a fun way to create and personalize jewelry pieces like bracelets and necklaces. Small decorative charms can also be added to accessories like key rings, backpacks, and purses. And you can make your own colorful charms using recycled materials, household items, and basic art supplies!

Making Your Charm Shape

Pet ID tags can be used to make your own jewelry charms.  You can then add more decoration to create and personalize your charms!
Pet ID tags can be used to make your own jewelry charms. You can then add more decoration to create and personalize your charms! | Source

My Mom used to work as Clerk for my home town. She sold dog licenses and distributed dog tags or pet ID tags. After she retired, she had a number of leftover tags in different shapes from different years that she donated to me for craft projects. I immediately realized that I could use these blank pieces of metal to design my own jewelry charms to make bracelets and necklaces!

Most of you will not have a collection of old pet ID tags to make your charms. But there are other recycled materials that you can use to start your charms:

  • metal bottle caps - you can either use these as is or hit them with a hammer to flatten them. Then use an awl to make a hole in your bottle cap.
  • plexiglass - you can use the image above as a template to cut out your own charms from a sheet of plexiglass. You will probably need to use a saw to cut this material. Then you can use a drill to make a hole to hang your charm.
  • recycled plastic containers from the bakery or deli - you can also cut your blank charm shapes from household plastic like containers from the bakery or deli. Be sure to wash and dry your containers thoroughly. You should be able to cut your charm shapes from this material using just scissors. However, your edges may be sharp. You might want to glue on a thin sheet of tissue paper to your charm and wrap it around your edges before starting to add any decoration.

Decorating the Back of Your Handmade Jewelry Charms

Use colorful nail polish to decorate your handmade jewelry charms!
Use colorful nail polish to decorate your handmade jewelry charms! | Source

Using Nail Polish to Decorate Your Charms

You will want to decorate both sides of your charms, because as you move, the charms will most likely twist and move with you. I spent more time designing the front of my charms, but found some easy ways to decorate the back of my charms too.

Nail polish is a fun way to add some bright color to your charms. Nail polish will probably not stick to plastic items from the grocery store, but will adhere to metal and plexiglass. You can use polish to make patterns and decorations on your charms, but you should be careful and patient to get the best results.

1. Pick your background color and paint it on your charm in a thick and even coat. Be sure to cover your charm completely, but do not get it on the edges or front of your charm. As you apply the nail polish, paint it on in one top to bottom motion. Then let your polish dry completely so that it is not even slightly sticky. I let my charm dry for 30 minutes.

2. Then apply a second coat of your background color, painting it on from left to right. Applying this coat in the opposite direction will ensure an even surface. Let your second coat dry completely.

3. To add polka dots, choose a color of polish that will stand out against your background color. Dip your brush to get a thick coating of polish and carefully touch the very end of your brush to the surface of your charm. This will create a round dot. Continue this step to make as many dots as you want, recoating your brush every couple of applications. Then let your charm dry completely.

If you have a large collection of nail polish colors, you can decorate all your charms this way and make a bright and cheerful charm bracelet!

Using Other Materials

Use wrapping paper, stickers, postage stamps, paper doilies, buttons, and sequin to decorate your charms
Use wrapping paper, stickers, postage stamps, paper doilies, buttons, and sequin to decorate your charms | Source

You can also use a number of other recycled items and art materials to decorate the back of your charms:

  • scrapbook or wrapping paper
  • greeting cards and post cards
  • paper doilies, pretty paper napkins, and tissue paper
  • postage stamps and stickers
  • beads, buttons, and sequin

I would suggest using Mod Podge and a small foam brush to glue these items to your charms.

1. Start by selecting your background material. Trace the shape of your charm onto your background and cut it out. Make sure your edges are neat and clean.

2. Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on your charm shape to glue down your background material.

3. Continue to paint on the Mod Podge to add layers of decorative items such as lace, pieces of doily, and stamps or stickers to your charms.

4. When you are done adding flat items to your charms, finish with a top coat of Mod Podge to seal your charm. You can add three dimensional items like buttons, beads, and sequin to the top of your charms, but I would not paint the Mod Podge over these.

5. Be careful not to cover the hole in your charm with three dimensional items. When you charm surface is dry, use a pointy item like a skewer or sewing needle to poke through your paper surface to your hole and open it again.

Layer Buttons to Decorate Your Charms

You can layer buttons on your charms to add a decorative touch
You can layer buttons on your charms to add a decorative touch | Source

Another great way to decorate the back of your charms is to layer colorful buttons on your surface.

1. I would suggest starting by adding a decorative background as above before adding your buttons.

2. Then choose a few bright buttons in descending size to stack on your charm. You can glue each button on your charm using either Mod Podge or white craft glue.

3. Be careful not to cover the hole in your charm with your buttons.

4. Once your buttons are dry in place, use a pointy object to open up the hole in your charm again.

Decorating the Front of Your Charms

You can use family photos to make handmade charms
You can use family photos to make handmade charms | Source

Adding Family Photographs to Your Charms

You should make the front of your charms truly special, and one way people use charms is to display family photos. Making your own handmade charms is a wonderful way to honor your loved ones or add new family charms to a pre-existing piece of jewelry. You can scan family photos into your computer and use a photo editing program to resize them and make any changes you want, then print your photos out on photo paper for your printer.

My photo charms were made following the directions above. I love this photo of my Dad as a young boy. To make this charm, I first glued on some decorative paper on as a background. Using a basic photo editing program, I changed this black and white photo so that it had a blue tint. I made the photo small enough to fit on my charm and printed it out. I used a soda cap as a template to cut my Dad's photo as a small circle and glued it to my charm using Mod Podge. I then added a small heart button as a special detail.

My parents wedding charm was created using the same process. I scanned this photo and used photo editing to change this color photograph to sepia tone to make it look older. Once I has printed out my altered photo on my printer, I positioned my charm shape as I wanted it on the photo, traced it and cut it out. I glued the photo to my charm shape and carefully added a flower button, some pearl beads, and a couple sequin to my charm. Then I used an awl to punch through my hole for my charm.

Use Layers and Collage to Make Unique Charms

Layering items makes pretty decorative charms for jewelry projects
Layering items makes pretty decorative charms for jewelry projects | Source

Use a Theme to Decorate Your Charms

I decided to decorate most of my charms with bird images. Using one subject matter for your charms is great way to create a unified theme to your finished piece of jewelry. This theme can be anything of your choice: dogs, cats, flowers, angels, family, your favorite movie star or celebrity. I searched my collection of cards and scrap paper for small images of birds. I found some great pictures in unlikely places like postage stamps, Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and gift tags.

Add Special Details to Each of Your Charms

I used a combination of the techniques outlined above to layer different elements on to each of my charms. I tried to add one decorative item like a piece of lace, a button, or some sequin to each of my charms to make it special.

You can find a lot of pre-made decorative items in the scrapbooking aisle of your local craft store. These package items are made to use as details on scrapbook pages. These decorative details include self-stick rhinestones, flower embellishments, and small images related to hobbies, babies, families, holidays, sports and nature. These items are a great way to add a personal touch to each of your charms.

Using Items You Already Have

Source

You can also add elements you already have to your charms. I used some small sticks to make the birdhouse charm above on the left. I started with one of my Mother's fire hydrant shaped dog tags. I cut out a bird image to glue down on my tag. I then added some small sticks to outline the shape and turn it into a birdhouse charm.

For my other bird charm, I super-glued a necklace pendant I had in my jewelry collection to a basic charm shape. I added some decorative paper as a background to highlight this pretty pendant.

Making Jewelry With Your Handmade Charms

Use memory wire and beads to make a bracelet with your handmade charms
Use memory wire and beads to make a bracelet with your handmade charms | Source

Making a Bohemian Beaded Bracelet

Once you have made a collection of charms, you can make a variety of jewelry pieces. A beaded bracelet is a great way to show off your handmade charms. You will need to following materials to make a beaded bracelet:

  • 5 - 10 of your handmade charms
  • jump rings for each of your charms - jump rings are available in a package in the jewelry section of most craft or bead stores.
  • other hanging charms (optional) to add to your bracelet
  • Memory Wire for bracelets - Memory Wire is medium gauge wire that is permanently shaped to form a bangle bracelet. You can find Memory Wire in the jewelry section of most craft stores or online.
  • a bunch of beads
  • a pair of needle nose pliers with a wire cutter edge

Source

To Make a Beaded Bracelet:

1. Cut your Memory Wire using wire cutters so you have a piece that is about three loops long. I like to make my beaded bangle bracelets about this width, but you can make yours shorter or longer.

2. Take you needle nose pliers and bend one end of your wire into a small loop (see photo above). This loop will stop your beads and charms from falling off the end of your bracelet.

3. Taking a jump ring for each of your charms, use your pliers to open each ring up. Slide an open ring through the hole in your charm and close the ring again. Now your have a ring to attach your charm to your bracelet.

4. Begin to thread your beads and charms onto your bracelet in the pattern you choose. I liked using a mix of beads and colors on my bracelet to create a bohemian look. Use larger beads next to your charms so they will stay in place and won't slide around your bracelet.

5. Continue to string your beads and charms on your Memory Wire until your bracelet is complete, leaving about a 1/2 inch of wire at the end.

6. Then use your pliers to make another loop at the end of your wire to keep your beads in place. Slide your hand through your finished bracelet and enjoy wearing it wherever you go!

Create a Classic Charm Bracelet

Source

Use a Length of Chain to Create a Charm Bracelet

You can use a length of open link chain to create a classic charm bracelet. A chain bracelet is a fashionable and fun way to show off your handmade charms. To make a chain bracelet, you will need:

  • 5 to 10 (or more) of your handmade charms
  • additional charms, buttons, and/or beads (optional) to add to your bracelet
  • a length of open link chain for your bracelet - chain is available in the jewelry department of most craft stores.
  • a clasp for your bracelet if it does not come with your chain
  • jump rings for each of your charms - jump rings are available in a package in the jewelry section of most craft or bead stores.
  • a pair of needle nose pliers with a wire cutter edge

Source

To Begin Your Charm Bracelet:

1. Using your wire cutters, cut your chain for the proper length for your bracelet. Bracelets tend to be about 7 1/2 inches long, but you should measure around your wrist to find the right length for you. Chain bracelets usally hang a little loose on the wrist but you don't want it to slide off or hang too far on your hand. Remember - your clasp is going to add a little bit to the length of your bracelet.

2. Attach your clasp if your chain did not come with it already. Your needle nose pliers and jump rings can be used to attach the clasp to your bracelet.

3. Once your clasp is in place, lay out your chain and decide the order and placement for each of your charms. I put each of my handmade charms along my bracelet so that three links were separating each one.

4. Use your pliers to open up your jump rings and attach your charms to your bracelet.

5. You can fill in the spaces between your charms with smaller charms or buttons. These can be attached with jump rings too.

Making a Necklace with Your Handmade Charms

Source

You can follow the directions above to make a necklace with your charms by simply using a longer length of chain. Or you can use other jewelry elements to make a decorative chain.

I made the necklace above featuring my Dad's charm by putting together two pre-made beaded bracelets. I found these bracelets in the craft store that were made of thin chain, dotted with black and gray beads. I used the clasp end of one bracelet to connect to the loop end of the other bracelet. This would serve as my closure. I then remove the clasp from the other bracelet and connected the two pieces using a jump ring. Using another jump ring, I attached my handmade clasp to this center loop to create a pendant for my necklace. It was an easy way to make a unique, handmade necklace!

There are lots of ways to use your handmade recycled charms to create beautiful pieces of personal jewelry!

Looking for more jewelry projects?

Visit my collection of jewelry ideas and tutorials!

Copyright © 2016 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 23 months ago

      You always put the class in crafts. Love to see your stuff.

      Voted up.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Thanks so much, poetryman! I appreciate it!!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 23 months ago from United States

      O my heavens, you charms are gorgeous. I especially like the bird ones. Wonderful hub!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Thanks, Jill! I'm on a bit of a bird kick right now and had a lot of fun making these charms. Thanks so much, as always, for commenting and sharing!

    • profile image

      Sarah 23 months ago

      These are so pretty. I especially love the ones that include photos #bloghandmade

    • profile image

      Catherine @ShadowDogDesigns 23 months ago

      What lovely and fun ideas! Will have to try some of these out. Thanks for sharing.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Hi Sarah - Thanks so much! My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and we had dug out a bunch of old family photos. I couldn't resist using a couple of them to make charms. So glad you like them. Thanks again for your comments!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Hi Catherine - Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I hope you have as much fun making your charms as I did making mine!

    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 23 months ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      These are lovely ideas Donna! The best part I like about them is the simplicity of making them. You make it easy. Can't wait to begin mking a few of my own. Thank you for showing me how Donna!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Thanks, Babbyii! I enjoy working with different materials so I really loved creating these little charms and turning them into jewelry. Good luck with a charm project of your own. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 23 months ago from Seattle, WA

      Clever! I love recycled craft ideas but using a pet ID tag is new to me. Pinned to my craft board

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Hi Angela! I love jewelry so I look to make it out of everything and anything. So glad you like this idea! Thanks so much for your comments and pin! I appreciate it.

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 23 months ago from Philippines

      Wonderful idea! I always look for new ways to recycle materials and put them into good use. Looks fun to do with the kids, too.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 23 months ago from Norfolk

      purl3agony

      Congratulations on having this hub made 'Spotlight of the Week', very well done.

      Sally

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Hi Chin chin! I think you will enjoy trying this craft project. I hope you have fun! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Thanks, Sally! It was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise. Thanks so much for all your support! I appreciate it!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 23 months ago from Chicago Area

      I've been a bit AWOL lately with a lot of business stuff in the works. So I missed this one until I saw it featured on the HP email. Adorable! And congrats on being recognized by the HP gods! Have a great day!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Thanks Heidi! I hope you are able to enjoy a bit of the summer in the midst of all your business endeavors. Thanks so much for your kind words and support!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 23 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I am not into crafting but have friends and relations who are, so I am sharing this hub.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 23 months ago from USA

      Hi Brian - Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate you sharing my hub with others you think might be interested. Hope you have a wonderful day!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 22 months ago

      I'm thinking this just might be one of my favorites of all of your projects Donna! These are adorable and I could just imagine the possibilities. This should be a HOTD! Have a great weekend.

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan! As always, I appreciate your kind comments and support. I'd love another HOTD :)

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 22 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Really nice, and so very creative!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 22 months ago from USA

      Thank you, Rebecca! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • profile image

      Amanjina 11 months ago

      Hey there! First of all thank you so much for posting this tutorial, I am at the moment experimenting with creating my own images in photoshop and would love to put them in rings, earrings and pendants. So I am wondering if you may know of any suppliers, specially the ones that the image can be slipped behind a glass or already hard resin on the jewellery. Gracias!

    • purl3agony profile image
      Author

      Donna Herron 11 months ago from USA

      Hi Amanjina - You can buy pendants and lockets in craft stores and online that have a glass cover which you can slip your own image into. And you can find tutorials on Pinterest for making charms using resin. Good luck with your upcoming projects! Thanks for stopping by!

    Click to Rate This Article