The Artisan Side: Glass Jewelry

So far this weblog has introduced readers only to the wordsmith side of my character. Writing is definitely one of my favorite things to do, but I also enjoy making handmade gifts. Creating personalized glass jewelry pieces is one of my favorite artistic endeavors.

This hobby has its roots in a fundraiser for Laura’s eighth grade basketball team, the Trinity Lutheran Lady Tigers. The girls were having a great season and hoped to be invited to the Lutheran Basketball Association of America national tournament held at Valparaiso University.

One of the moms suggested personalized glass pendants. She had made them as gifts for another sports team, and they were relatively easy and inexpensive. We decided to make pendants for all of the teams coming in for the annual Trinity girls’ basketball tournament.

Somehow I ended up with the job of making images for the pendants. The athletic director gave me the rosters from participating teams and I came  up with a design that utilized the initials of the school and each player’s name. We had team parties to make the pendants and assemble the necklaces with ribbon and pony bead sliders in team colors.

Pendants for players and magnets for coaches.

At a modest $5 price point, the pendants were a huge hit, especially among girls with unusually spelled names. We sold every necklace.

Many Trinity school parents were interested in buying additional pendants and magnets, so we took special orders. With a materials cost under a dollar per item this project turned out to be one of our best fundraisers. The girls went on to win their school tournament, placed second in the state tournament and played in the national tournament. Six of the nine girls went on to play high school ball.

I liked the idea enough to use it again to make locker magnets for Laura to give as Christmas gifts to her teammates on the freshman basketball team. Later, when Hanna went on a mission trip to Vietnam, we made refrigerator magnets for her supporters.

Pray for Hanna in Hanoi

By now, I had the hang of the technique, but wished to try something nicer than the bulk bag of craft glass pieces from Hobby Lobby. I discovered Sun and Moon Craft Kits, a wonderful online supplier of jewelry glass in various shapes, as well as bails (the metal piece glued to the back for the chain or ribbon to go through), metal trays that the glass fits into like a picture frame, ribbons and chains and materials of all kind. They also have great tutorials for jewelry projects.

My first major project with new and improved supplies was making gifts for Laura’s basketball team last Christmas. This time I designed pendants using small rectangular glass, medium bails, navy blue organza ribbons, and  basketball charms.

Helias Lady Crusaders 2012-2013

Laura and I decided that her male coaches might not appreciate a pendant necklace and made bookmarks with basketball charms for them instead.

Kyle, Laura’s boyfriend, is goalie for the soccer team. She asked me to  design pendants for his mom and grandmothers.

These feature square pendant trays instead of bails.

Because glass jewelry is labor-intensive, I like to work in batches to minimize waste of materials and maximize use of my time.

My preferred supplies:
• Card stock run through a color laser printer
• Jewel-It or Sun and Moon Glaze
• E-6000 glue for attaching to the bail or tray
• nail polish remover
• x-acto knife, paintbrush (or cotton swabs), emery boards

My latest batch included pendants for friends I visited in Houston and Little Rock this summer.

Incorporating unusual spelling, favorite colors and individual interests make a truly personal gift.

For my mom’s milestone birthday this month, I designed a pendant using a wavy text generator and the names of all her children, their spouses, and the grandkids.

Happy 55th anniversary of your 25th birthday, Mom!

In December my mom and a couple of her friends host an Advent by Candlelight table. I offered to make nativity pendants for her to present to her guests this year.

Eight different Nativity silhouettes in square pendant trays with white organza ribbons are simple yet meaningful party favors.

I’ve got plenty of supplies on hand and lots of ideas for new glass jewelry, so who knows what I may come up with next. Maybe my own Etsy shop.

4 Responses

  1. Hi,

    I love this project. My dad passed earlier this year, and I was thinking of copying where he signed “Dad” on a card to me and making a necklace for each of my sisters. I have never made jewelry before, in looking at your nativity pendants, what kind of clasp did you use at the top? Thanks!

    1. That is a lovely idea. I used a manufactured ribbon for the nativity pendants that had a lobster style clasp already attached.

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