Create Colorful Aluminum Jewelry: Upcycle Cans into Vibrant Necklaces, Rings, Earrings, Pins, and Bracelets by Helen Harle (Kalmbach Publishing $14.95 US; $18.95 CAN) literally turns trash, in the form of aluminum cans, into treasure, as in some colorful jewelry designs.
This 55 page full-color book includes 20 jewelry projects along with related tips and techniques. It is a little book packed with colorful and economical jewelry designs.
Tools and Techniques
This slim volume (55 pages) pretty much gets right to it, making jewelry that is. Tools, materials, and some basic techniques are included in 5 pages. First basics like the findings and beads needed to go with the aluminum are covered as well as a brief explanation of the type of cans needed to make the aluminum components for the jewelry. A few non-jewelry tools are discussed like paper punches and eyelet tools. For the techniques, one page covers some jewelry staples like wrapped loops, and two pages cover how to cut and prepare the cans, how to cut holes through them, and how to punch out shapes. Small full-color photos show some of the process, though it would have been nice to see how to prepare the cans rather than just describe how to do it even though it does sound pretty simple. As the author points out, probably the most difficult part of this is just being careful to to cut yourself on the aluminum.
The projects make up the bulk of the book. For the most part, they are made up of aluminum components such as flowers, leaves, and other shapes you cut out from the prepared aluminum cans using a paper punch, normally used for scrapbooking. Then the author shows how to connect these, sometimes even layering multiple pieces, using either epoxy, eyelets, or findings. What impressed me the most about these projects is that you would really have no idea that the components came from aluminum cans, and as the title suggests, they really pop with color, as well as texture.
The two big pluses I see for this book is that, first of all, you can turn items that normally would go in a recycling bin into jewelry. Granted, most soda cans get recycled these days, but this option allows you to be part of that process while making some really unique and colorful jewelry. In addition, you are saving money on supplies.
Normally, if you wanted to make components (like findings, beads, or pendants) they would take a lot of time and may involve a complicated process. So the other big deal is that you are making lots of the components used in a jewelry piece, and it looks pretty easy to do.
This book may have a more narrow audience than other jewelry books out there, but for the earth-friendly jewelry designer on a budget, it is worth checking into.
Being a big fan of upcycling and recycling, I was very enthused about Helen Harle's new book just from the title.
If you think the only thing you can make from soda cans is crocheted purses and hats, you'll be surprised by the gorgeous jewelry she demonstrates how to make in this book.
The introduction to the book explains the tools and techniques you'll be using to create the jewelry. How to cut and flatten the can and how to connect pieces together with rivets and with epoxy.
Then you get into the projects. They are really gorgeous. They are all made with supplies that are fairly easy to find at any good craft store and they aren't very expensive supplies. The time it takes to make a finished piece is minimal.
The projects start with delicate hanging blossom earrings, and get more complex as the book goes on. The techniques and methods used are inspiring.
My favorite projects include the Tiny Blossom Brooch which uses beads with flowers and leaves made from aluminum cans on a sieve type brooch finding to make a pretty little brooch which reminds me strongly of some of the costume jewelry my grandmother had. The same technique could be used to make a forget-me-not ring or even shoe clips or clip on earrings. The simple daffodil hair pins remind me of the paper daffodils I made in school. My favorite project is the roses that are very realistic and just a lovely addition both to jewelry and to other crafts. I could see these on the cover of a scrapbook or larger ones glued to a paper mache box.
The book is mostly flowers, but the technique uses craft punches to create shapes so you don't need any drawing skills and no more cutting skills then it takes to cut open the can. The methods of turning, bending, and folding the shapes creates lovely realistic flowers. If you paint your cans with a good paint for metals, nobody would even guess this is upcycled jewelry. The finished pieces are fun, floral and remind me strongly of vintage costume jewelry.
The book inspired me to make Christmas ornaments using bottle caps and aluminum can shapes, and there are a bunch of other ideas I want to try.
-Shala Kerrigan, BellaOnline.com
I have been dabbling with aluminum can designs, thinking about what I wanted. You know, planning the colors you need means finding out who drinks what. I was at my daughter's a few weeks ago and took 1 of every can they had, so I could see the various combinations that I know I can get. They have 2 boys, plus they drink different sodas than I do. Chris and I are pretty predictable: Diet Mtn Dew, Diet Pepsi or Pepsi Max, and Diet Cherry Coke or Pepsi are really all we drink. I'm afraid that's not a lot of variety in color; there is a Diet Sunkist 12 pack at work. I've forgotten to grab the cans, but I'll ask Kevin to NOT smash them and give them to me....guys will NEVER understand!
Combined with my recycling kick with aluminum cans, I've also been gathering various pins (pics and posts to come!), and have been specifically seeking the old 60's-70's daisy-type flowers, to create some of those gorgeous, multi-flower bib-style necklaces. The difficulty is collecting enough that will work together in the same design. No, I'm not one to buy a "lot" off someone on ebay who wants a crazy price. But I may be able to combine these 2 concepts with this new book. It's full of various flower styles, some that might work for my idea. There are daisies, daffodils, sunflowers, gerbera and apple blossoms. However, my very favorite are roses, in the final project. I do love the fact that fall and winter are here, I just don't design as much in the summer for some unknown reason.
Read and watch, I predict more posts about aluminum flowers and designs will be coming this fall. I gotta decide what soft drinks to drink based on can colors! As my daughter and sister would say, OMG! I also plan to work on a few of these that I might be able to do with my nieces; yes I will cut and file, but once I have smooth edges and several pieces, they would love to put things together and create their own flowers, I'm sure. These will look great on hair pins for them, as well as small pendants on necklaces.....ribbon or cord, I think!
-S & T Creations
Using the simplest of techniques, Helen Harle guides you through the process of making all different kinds of fun and festive jewelry. All you need are aluminum cans, a few basic jewelry-making tools, and...get this...scrapbooking paper punches!! Yup! Paper punches can be used to cut right through the soft metal of cans, so after you've done a few preparatory steps with your cans, you can launch right into making fabulous flowered jewelry. I think you'll be amazed by how many styles of flowers you can create with this simple method. But don't stop there...once you know the basics, there's nothing to stop you from applying Helen's techniques to other forms.
-Mixed Media Artist