How to Make a Driftwood Jewelry Pendant
Natural Is All the Rage
Going green, Mother Nature, Back to Basics and this idea for making a wooden jewelry pendant seem to go hand in hand. One popular style of fashion jewelry has its hand in the wooden bead jar. That prompted me to do some experimenting in my Adrift Art Studio. I like to mix it up when it comes to designing art and my jewelry making is no exception. I came up with a couple of very interesting ideas I wanted to try while turning a small piece of driftwood over and over between my fingers.
Why not try one of a kind, jewelry pendants made from driftwood to make a unique fashion statement? My plan for making handcrafted wooden pendants out of driftwood turned out quite interesting. I felt it was worth sharing with other artists and jewelry makers. Each piece turns out to be totally unique as driftwood is found that way. Natural wood being all the rage makes driftwood pendants a fun thing to make and wear. Let's take a look at what you will need to make your own pendants from driftwood for a unique fashion jewelry statement.
Suggested Materials for This Project
- small pieces of driftwood
- jump rings, cord, jewelry findings by design
- acrylic paint
- wood sealer
Tools to Make a Driftwood Pendant
- Dremel rotary tool
- drill bit for Dremel tool
- a wood burning pen
- small paint brushes
- sanding bit for Dremel tool
- small bench vise
- misc. hand tools depending on decorating application
- safety glasses
- metal tray or holder for wood burning pen
Set Up Your Work Area
Set up all your supplies, materials and tools in an area to work. You might have a shop or studio where you work. If you do not have a regular place to do this project you can work on any table. Be sure to place the table where you will have adequate ventilation and good lighting. This project can be done outside if the weather permits.
Remember to practice good safety habits as you work. Read all labels on paint, glue, and sealer before using. It is more fun when you can accomplish your motive accident-free. Be especially careful with the rotary tool and wood burning pen when you use them. Work on a surface that is safe for the job at hand.
Always protect your eyes. Wear safety glasses when you are using the rotary tool. Small pieces of wood can fly in to your eyes when sanding and drilling. It is advisable to wear old clothes or a smock when you work to protect your clothing.
Getting the Driftwood Prepared for a PendantClick thumbnail to view full-size
Now that you have all your materials and tools you will have to prepare the driftwood by cleaning it up. Make sure to pick pieces of wood that are solid and sturdy. Driftwood is often very soft and almost rotten, so you have to be careful in picking a piece to make your pendant out of. I suggest picking several pieces in case one of the pieces breaks or crumbles when you start to work with it. You can work on a few pieces at the same time since they will be rather small.
You only have to do as much as you see fit as far as cleaning goes. You are designing this pendant so make it to suit your desire. Having several pieces will give you the option to experiment as you work. so clean the wood and go on to the next step.
Drill a Hole to Start the Pendant
Before you decorate the driftwood it is best to drill the hole that will turn the piece of driftwood in to a pendant. Then when the pendant is decorated it can be suspended from a cord or chain. Making the hole first will help determine if the wood will hold up to making it in to a design. The force of the drill could possibly break or shatter the small pieces of driftwood. This is the best reason to make the holes first and to pick several pieces of wood.
It is also a good idea to drill first because you will want to know exactly where the holes will be when you decorate. You do not want to decorate and then find that the hole has to go through your design. Or worse yet, spend time decorating and then have your work shattered when you start drilling.
Decorating the Driftwood Pendant
This is the step where you can get very creative. I tried several different applications and ideas when making my first few pieces. It depends on the look you want to achieve and the style you decide on for your design. I like to experiment and I would suggest you do the same.
I tried some wood burning application to some pieces and painting with acrylic paint for others. I tried lettering and drawing with the wood burning pen. You can see in my photos some of the different ways to decorate your pendant. It is totally up to you when you start to finish the driftwood. Have fun and explore your options. Whatever you do, do not be afraid to explore.
Finishing the Driftwood Pendants
Out of five or six of the pieces I started with there were three pieces I went on to finish. This is because of the driftwood just not working as I proceeded to apply different methods of tooling and decorating. This is the reason I urge you to work on several small pieces at the same time.
The Peace Sign Pendant
I started this one out as the rest of my driftwood choices to become a pendant. After working it up and finishing it I went on to experiment with the application of this pendant to a piece of functional jewelry. Keep in mind that i was experimenting and mixing things up a bit as far as media and materials go.
I used acrylic paint to paint a simple wood burned peace sign on the driftwood. I applied two coats of paint and after drying overnight I applied two coats of a satin finish polyurethane to the wood. This took another night to dry. Then I attached an antique gold-toned jump ring to the pendant. This was the turning point for this pendant in my mind. Instead of using this piece sign as a pendant I adapted it to be used as a charm for an antique gold-toned bracelet. Turned out a little funky cool, very different.
The Peanut Shaped USA Piece
This one was just for fun and it's unusual peanut shape made a nice bauble and a place to stretch some creativity with my wood burning pen. I added one star, some lettering, stripes and a signature all for fun. The piece was coated with a coat of polyurethane to lock in the wood burned areas and to help keep the paint from running. Then after that was dried overnight I painted the areas as seen in the photos with acrylic paints. I applied one coat of paint and then finished the necklace.
I used a couple of natural tube beads made of wood to carry the natural driftwood style. Then I added a couple of red, white and, blue beads to a leather cord. The natural color for the leather and the wood make this a fun necklace. It would be perfect for the Fourth Of July holiday and go nice with casual attire. It is also ready to be worn by either sex with it's middle of the road appearance.
Mixing Up The Medias
Again I want to urge you to try different ideas. If you do not like the way something is going you can always try something different. The pendants you make can actually be finished in so many different ways so this is the time to have some fun. Let your imagination run with your ideas and remember the sky is the limit. You can use an assortment of wires, chains, cords made of different kinds of materials to finish the pendant into a piece of one of a kind jewelry. Play with it until you reach a point with something you like.
Don't be afraid to make things that do not turn out. Experimenting sometimes leads to failure but it is the best way to learn the more you experiment the better understanding you will gain about this craft.
Painted Driftwood Flower Pendant
This piece of driftwood had an interesting crude shape to it with a nice flat surface to paint on. Red flowers are fun, happy and warm weather related so I decided to simply paint a flower. I used several colors of acrylic paint on this piece and no polyurethane. I just drilled the hole, added some paint and then let it dry between colors.
I continued adding different colors until I felt like I could call it done. This one slides nicely on to a leather cord. I did that to show the application for my photo here but, this one I am keeping for later use. It can be finished in many ways and i am not sure what I want to do with it yet.
Detailing a Lizard Pendant
I first wood burned this lizard to make a bold design on the driftwood. Then I added a coat of polyurethane to seal in the charred wood. This dried overnight and then many applications of acrylic paint were added to give much detail to the work. The festive colors and the natural wood with a very unique and interesting shape lend itself nicely to the choice of a lizard as the subject. This turned out to be my favorite one in this run of exploration in making jewelry pendants out of small pieces of driftwood.
Again I have not made this pendant into a piece of jewelry but did add a black leather cord to the pendant for the photos. I did this to give ideas as to how it looks strung and what the possibilities for a final product are to consider before finishing. There are so many different things that can be done to enhance a handcrafted driftwood pendant. I want to take time to consider them all or at least all I can think of. Exploring is one of the wonderful things about handcrafting jewelry and this driftwood pendant project is one to fly with. The sky is the limit, and you should let your creativity run rampant!