What do you get when you combine metal, glitter paint, beads and 41 girl scouts? Why, masterpieces of jewelry, of course!
A few weeks ago I was invited to teach a jewelry making class for local girl scouts out on the town on a day off from school for a girls day out. Other places they went included a pizza place to see how the pizza is made, the local art gallery to view the displays, a bakery to make cupcakes and a pottery shop to paint bowls. In thinking about what I could do with a group of girls in a short time frame, I thought it would be fun to make necklaces. The problem is that my ideas are often really great but not realistic. Read on....
I had recently attended the Vintaj master class in Galena and purchased one of their Big Kick embossing machines (click that link to take you to a great video tute of Jess from Vintaj showing off the Big Kick. Pay close attention to the necklace that she is wearing... my 'simple truths' charms are part of it!). Tiny Dancer had a great time embossing every metal piece that I had with the folders, so I knew that it would be a hit with the girls.
I ordered a ton of embossing folders from both Vintaj and from other companies. The Vintaj embossing folders are made expressly to emboss on their metal pieces and have a crisp impression to them. My personal preference is for the DecoEmboss folders rather than the DecoEtch ones. (And I have told Jess this, that I would prefer bigger folders and also ones that have a little more 'breathing room' on them so that if I just want the owl I can just get the owl and not some other motif. I understand that new folders are in the works!). The other ones that I picked up (all from the Cuttlebug line) worked fine, but because they are plastic, the detail is not as fine. But for the purposes of what I was doing, this was an okay compromise to get a wide variety of looks. These folders may not last as long because they are plastic, but for the price and the variety, they can't be beat. (Note: I have tried it and I wouldn't recommend using the non-Vintaj folders with either the arte metal or copper pieces from Vintaj. Those metals are a bit thicker than the usual brass pieces and don't take the embossing well.)
I was very encouraged by the results of these different embossing folders on the metal. I had some animal prints like giraffe and zebra and peacock feathers. I also had some birds on swirly branches, clock gears and big paisley prints. The one that the girls gravitated to the most was the cute little owl from Vintaj. And this makes me want to get more of them, especially the Tim Holtz line.
I had my trusty assistant with me that day (note to self: you owe her big time!). Tiny Dancer enjoyed being in charge of the Vintaj Big Kick and helping the girls choose their metal pieces and cranking their designs through the machine. She was a huge help. And it proves that everyone, every age can have success with this process!
After they embossed the metal, we had them put a little elbow grease in with pieces of steel wool to buff the raised areas. That was hard, they said! I told them that now they know what mom goes through when she scrubs the pots and pans, and they can offer to help next time! ;-)
Then we set about painting them. When we were buying supplies, Tiny Dancer assured me that all girls love sparkles so we opted to buy the Folk Art Extreme Glitter acrylic paint. And when they say "extreme" they mean it! When the paint is wet, it looks sort of like a glitter bottle got dumped into the milk in your cereal bowl, but oh man! When it dries the glitter is all you see. Some of the girls were very precise with their painting and some were more liberal. We instructed them to try to concentrate the paint in the recessed or darkened areas of the embossed metal, but it worked just fine if you aren't precise.
While things were drying, I let them pick from a wide variety of glass and acrylic and gemstone beads to go with their color palette. We had to work on reigning in the desire to choose one of every type of bead and color! We discussed scale (no, you can't string 6 beads on the head pin and have it work) and I taught them how to do some simple coiled loops on their head pins to make little dangles. They did a pretty good job with these tools for their first time. It was frustrating for some but a great start if they are interested in working with more tools.
I ended up with three groups of about 12-14 girls each in ages that ranged from 5-13. Whew! If you think that sounds like a challenge, you are right! I used to be a teacher, so I understand about lesson plans and the fact that things never go quite as planned, and I have a pretty healthy ability to roll with the punches. They were really great though. The older ones helped the younger ones, and they all created such marvelous things. Unfortunately, given the time frame I had to work with (only 45 minutes per group), the little overlooked glitch that paint takes time to dry and the fact that my project was more ambitious than complete beginners could accomplish in that time, they did not finish their pieces that day. But I assured them that I would take them home and put them together for them and get them back to the girls for their next meeting.
That was two weeks ago. Do you know how long it takes to make 41 uniquely different collage necklaces? About two weeks. If you try to squeeze it into your regular nightly routine and all the other things you are supposed to do. And are willing to stay up until 1:30am a few nights. Or maybe just a few days if you have nothing better to do! ;-)
We had them work on paper plates that we had them write their names on (that was a brilliant last minute decision!). They left all their beads and their painted embossed metal on them along with their choice of either a ball chain necklace or a steel cable choker. At home, Tiny Dancer and I painted a thick layer of Triple Thick glaze on each and left them to dry completely for a few days. Then I set about to make sure that each girls' dangles were well formed (some where so prolific that I couldn't include them all, but I wanted them to have the fruits of their labor, so I sent these extras in their baggies), so that the loops were closed and no wires were poking out. And then I put the dangles on their necklace for a nice collage effect. I wish that they had been able to complete this part on their own, but I think that they will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
What do you think? The Extreme Glitter paint in the recessed areas coupled with the Triple Thick really makes this look enameled to me. Very lush and sparkly. And these girls did a marvelous job with picking out beads in coordinating or complementary colors as well as charms to enhance their style. It was a lot of work for this project, and I was exhausted after this, but I am very proud of their creativity. Below are a few of my favorites from the 41 who participated. These had the most precise painting, a great grasp of color palettes and a nice collection of coordinating beads and charms. Which one is your favorite?
So, after wading through the narrative, how about a quick free tutorial on how to make Oh So Faux Enamel Collage necklaces?
Oh So Faux Enamel Collage Necklaces
Vintaj brass blanks
Vintaj Big Kick
Various embossing folders - Vintaj and Cuttlebug
Folk Art Extreme Glitter paint (red, blue, purple, green, aqua)
Triple Thick glaze
Assorted beads, charms, head pins, jump rings
Steel cable neck wires or stainless steel ball chain
41 girl scouts (ages 5-13)
tiny paint brushes
Optional: one darling daughter helper and tons of patience
1:: Choose your metal and embossing folder. Run it through the Big Kick embossing machine.
2:: Buff the raised areas with the nifty Vintaj buffing block or steel wool.
3:: Paint in the recessed areas. Let dry.
4:: Select beads and charms that complement your paint colors. Create coiled loops on headpins.
5:: Paint a thick layer of Triple Thick glaze on your metal pieces. Let dry.
6:: Use a metal hole punch to open up the hole in the metal piece after the Triple Thick has dried.
7:: Attach embossed metal, beaded dangles and charms to the necklace with jump rings.
Have you ever taught something to kids? What did you do? Did any unexpected glitches happen? What were the results like?
Would you like to get a collage necklace of your own? I have four samples that I made for the class and I will give a random winner their choice of one of the collage necklaces pictured above. Winner will be chosen on Monday, November 14th.
Just leave any comment! (But make sure I have a way to contact you - either your email or be kind and turn on your email for commenting. If you are not sure if your email is turned on, view your profile. If it says email with a link, then it is working. If not, turn it on so we can keep the conversation going! ;-)