How to Create A Keepsake Necklace For Mom
Creating a Necklace Using A Thumbprint Pendant
Creating your own jewelry really isn't all that hard. There are a few techniques to learn and once you've practiced those a bit, you can create almost anything. For this particular lens, I wanted to make a necklace using a pendant I received from my seven year old son last mother's day. It's a piece of modeling clay with his thumbprint in it. I can't take credit for the idea, though I wish I could because it's brilliant! He made it with his first grade class and I think it was one of the best gifts ever.
I'm going to show you how I created a necklace to show off my baby's thumbprint and I'll give you instructions to make one of your own too. All pictures are my own unless otherwise noted.
Make Your Own Thumb or Fingerprint Pendant - Save those tiny fingerprints forever
Seriously. This is one of the best gift ideas ever. My child's fingerprint forever cast in clay. Wearable. For a lifelong keepsake. What more could a mom ask? Whoever thought of that (I think it was the uber crafty and clever room mom assistant in his class but I'm not sure) is pure genius! So if there is a mom in your life you'd like to blow away, please, please try this for her.
What you'll need:
1. Clay (if you aren't overly familiar with types of clay, find a craft store like Michael's or Joann's Fabrics and ask for help. There are multiple types of clay, from self-hardening to professional. Check to be sure there are instructions on hardening the clay when you buy it).
2. An oven (to harden the clay in)
3. A kid with fingers and thumbs.
4. A ring (called a jumpring in the jewelry making world) to put through a hole you'll make at the top to attach to a necklace (or keychain or whatever you'd like).
Making A Clay Fingerprint (Or Thumbprint) Pendant - It's easier than you think!
- First, roll out the clay evenly.
- Then, use a cookie cutter or similar device to cut circles in the clay.
- Use a small stick or punch to punch a hole in the top of the circle.
- Press the child's finger or thumb gently into the clay, being sure to get a good print.
- Bake in the oven (unless you have self-hardening clay, then allow it to dry according to directions). The temperature will vary depending on the type of clay. For great instructions on different types of materials, go here.
- Gently open the jumpring (instructions will be in the section on making the necklace) and connect it to the pendant, then close it again.
- That's it! Easy Peasy.
Buy This Jewelry How-To Book
When I first started learning jewelry making, this was an incredibly helpful resource. Filled with beautiful designs for inspiration and good descriptions of how to do things like open and close jumprings, attach clasps to the end of your jewelry and much more. If you're just starting out, be sure to get this book.
Have You Ever Made Your Own Jewelry?
This is my little guy in the picture, sporting a bunch of bracelets I've made. He LOVES to be part of the jewelry making process! (This was during a jewerly photo shoot).
Have you ever made your own jewelry or would you like to?
A Note About The Design Process
For me, the most challenging (and also most fun) part of the process is the design stage. This is where I decide what I am going to make, what it's going to look like, which beads or other components I'm going to use. Maybe it's because I like possibilities and once I decide on something, I've closed the door on countless options (though not really, because I could keep making all the other designs, I'm only limited by the materials I have on hand and well, time. That's always a big factor!).
I am not an expert when it comes to design. I don't think it's even a strength of mine. But it is fun and the most creative part of the process and I love that. There's something about taking random parts and turning it into a piece of wearable art that is addictive (kind of like squidoo!). I will caution you, if you have no materials to begin, have an idea of what you want to make BEFORE shopping in a craft store. When you set foot into a jewelry aisle, you can, quite rapidly, get lost in the millions of projects all calling you to make them. Really, they call out to you. Beads screaming your name...
So, first things first, choose what you want to create (look at books, get ideas, have a sense of what you want), then go shopping. The store that has most of my money when it comes to jewelry making components is Firemountain Gems. See, when I started making jewerly, it was going to be a business rather than a hobby so I bought lots of different things (you also get a much better discount when you buy more items at Firemountain Gems so I of course had to buy enough to qualify for the discount!).
You can see by my picture my little beads multiplied rapidly into several storage containers. In hindsight, I'd say start small until you know what you like working with. There is such a thing as too many choices. (And my "business" is now a hobby and a great way for me to make more jewelry than I can possibly wear. In my lifetime.)
How to Make This Thumbprint Pendant Necklace - Once you decide on the design, the actual making of it is easy!
6 strands of Hemp Cord (my necklace used approx 19 inches of cord though I always start with at least 3 or 4 inches more than I want)
Two end cap closures
1 Thumbprint pendant
Two antique look silver plated beads
1 silver plate clasp
5 silver plate jumprings
Tweezers (if needed to get the cord into the end caps)
Scissors (only for cutting the cords)
- First, cut 6 strands of hemp cord 4 inches longer than your desired necklace length (test by holding the cord around your neck and seeing where you want it to fall. I'd show you pictures of me doing this for this necklace but they aren't good. At all. So I'll spare you and assume that you can figure this out). It's ALWAYS better to make the cord longer than you think you'll need. Much easier to trim off excess than try to weave it back together.
- Gather the cord together and string the first silver bead through. It can be a eensy bit tricky to string all of them if your cords are thicker or almost as thick as the hole through the bead. So make sure the hole in the bead is large enough. Mine happened to fit quite well, making it so I can reposition the silver beads anywhere I want along the necklace any time and they won't slide.
- I'm going to assume you already have at least 1 jumpring on your pendant (because you did that when you made the pendant, remember?). Slide the pendant onto the necklace. Here's a tip for you. If you think you might want to use it on other necklaces (giving you more options for wearing), you can add 1 or 2 more jumprings (connect them to each other) and have it dangle from the last one. I did this because I do want to be able to change it out easily (without taking off the main jumpring that's on the strand). This is up to you!
- String the 2nd silver bead onto the strand of cords.
- Now comes the trickiest part (aside from creating the design in the first place!). You want to place the cords, all 6 of them, into the open end cap. The end cap is simply a piece with a loop that closes around your strands and holds them together and allows you to attach a clasp to the end of it. It's the piece that connects the strands to the clasp. Lay the strands in the end cap making sure to keep them as even as possible. Then squeeze the two sides of the end cap together so it closes and secures the strands. You can add glue to the strands if you choose. I didn't for my necklace. Double check the length of your necklace before repeating on the second side. If it's too long, cut off the excess and continue with the second end cap. The second side is usually trickier because you're trying to make sure the strands are all equal length and tautness. Have patience and you'll get it!
For a great visual of this step and different types of end caps or crimp ends, you can check out this site.
- Next up is to add a clasp. You'll want to add a jumpring as a connector from clasp to end cap. (some jewelry won't require jumprings but I often suggest it anyway because it gives you the option of changing out the clasp down the road if you want to). Open the jumpring and slide on the end cap loop and the clasp loop. Close the jumpring. Do this on both sides.
- That's it! You're done! See, told you it was easy! Depending on how tricky it gets for you to put the strands in the end cap, this can take just a few minutes really. It's the fastest part, especially with this necklace since there are few strands.
Pictures Of The Jewelry Making ProcessClick thumbnail to view full-size
Buy Jewelry Materials From Amazon
This is the exact cord I used for my necklace. Hemp is quite strong and durable.
This isn't the end cap I used, but I do have similar ones and they are beautiful. I love sterling silver.
Jumprings come in different sizes and thicknesses. I use several sizes but 6mm is a good size. Getting a bulk package is a good move. You'll use these for a lot of different projects.
This isn't the exact silver bead I used, but it's very similar. I love these type beads for creating interesting looks.
This is a great choice if you'd like to make multiple colors and multiple projects. This is an oven bake clay and is great for kids to work with too. You'll have lots of choice here!
A Great Tutorial On Opening And Closing Jump Rings Properly - There is a right way to do it.
The Finished Product!
Me, Modeling My New Creation
Other Design Options
The options for making a necklace like this are endless really. You could use a different color clay, paint the clay (even metallic colors), use different color hemp cords, use ribbons or chain instead of the hemp cord. You could even use metal clay to create a silver or other metal fingerprint pendant. You could use beads on a wire strand (I'm considering doing this too). Or maybe create some wire wrapped dangles to hang down alongside of your pendant.
I wanted a more natural organic look to match the color of the pendant and I'm happy with what I created. I will, however, be thinking and working on some other designs that I can use also (remember I created my necklace so I could easily remove the pendant?). It's always great to have versatility!
For mother's day this year, I created a new version of this for my mother. I made the clay form using both of my kids fingers which formed a heart. We then glazed it (it was already a gold color clay) and strung it with ribbon. It turned out fantastic and she loved it! I'm in the process of painting another for myself. Let me know if you like it!