If you have ever bought a ready made canvas frame, you should have noticed that it normally comes with a pack of wooden stretcher keys. I had a couple of those little bags, that I didn’t need to use as stretchers. These keys are made of balsa wood, which is soft and easy to cut. Since I hate throwing away any kind of material, I thought I should use them to create something.
I decided to keep working on some handmade jewelry ideas, this time upcycling these little pieces of wood.
If you don’t have canvas stretcher keys, you can buy a sheet of balsa wood, about 0,3 mm thick. I’m sure the result will be even better. To cut, smooth and paint the wood I’ve used simple tools I have at home: a ruler, a cutter, a nail file, a small screwdriver and round nose pliers. I’ve also used some jump rings, earring hooks or base metal rings, depending each time on the type of jewelry I wanted to make. For painting the wood, I’ve mixed watercolor with a bit of gouache, to limit the transparency but keep the wood texture.
First, make some rough sketches of your design. The possibilities are unlimited. Here are a few sketches I made for my little foxes earrings.
If you find it difficult to come up with an original idea, a good way is to start with some geometrical forms. The result can be really nice and minimal. For example, I will show you how I made this simple earrings design, step-by-step.
Once you’ve decided the design of your earring, use the ruler and a pencil to draw the form on the wood surface.
Use the ruler and a cutter to start cutting the pieces. You will need many repetitions with little pressure, to cut it without breaking the wood.
Use a nail file to smooth the sides and the surface.
With a pencil mark the point where you want to attach the earring hooks. Use a thin screwdriver to make the hole. Place the hole close to the edge to allow the jump ring to enter, but not too close to avoid breaking the wood. While making the hole avoid pressing too hard.
With the ruler and the cutter “draw” some geometrical forms. I’ve used again the nail file to make this line smoother.
Mix watercolor with a bit of gouache and paint the earrings.
Use the round nose pliers to attach the jump rings and the earring hook.