I made a version of this fun necklace today, and it was so much fun I had to share it. I used vintage buttons in addition to my cut up carpenter’s ruler, but you could use tiny red hearts or little bells or enjoy it without any additional bling.
I am one of the ‘squirrel girls’. What that means in English is that my friend Lynn and I both love discovering wonderful old Stuff to repurpose. Garage sale and estate sale season are winding down and we are busy laying away those ‘nuts’, aka, bits and pieces that will get us through the winter with lots of creativity. One of my favorite things right now is carpenters rulers and really old measuring tapes.
They are getting tougher to find but I had two I could sacrifice to today’s project. The third one is French and will be admired in one piece on my treasure shelf in the studio.
For this Carpenter’s Dream necklace, I used my heavy duty lineman’s pliers and whacked off one to two inch pieces cleanly. You can use a hacksaw or jigsaw or anything you can make a nice clean cut with on your wood. I saved the metal folding parts for another project and made a pile of yellow and white inches. How fun is that?
Before I took my stack of inches and sanded them I geared up. These are old and probably painted with lead paint. I’m not really fond on sawdust in my sinuses or eyes either so glasses and a mask are the uniform of the day.
I looked around and saw how small these pieces were, like an inch? hee hee hee. My small sander was overkill and the big grinder? Not in this lifetime. I hit on taking my dremel tool and putting a sanding wheel on it. I turned the speed to as low as it would go and secured it tightly in my little bench vise. I could have held it in my hand but this made more sense because I could turn each piece holding it with both hands to sand and round the ends, making sure to get rid of any pointy bits. A sanding block or a small sander would also work if you don’t have a dremel tool.
I took the sanding wheel off the dremel and fitted it with a small drill bit. It just took a few minutes to drill a nice neat hole through each piece, I made sure all the numbers faced the same way when I made the holes. Notice the holes all over my work table? This is why I don’t have fancy work tables in my studio. I tend to make holes, drop paint and stains all over my work area and I don’t have to worry.
I found oval jump rings recently, really big ones and the opening is on the side. These were perfect for popping on to the wooden pieces before I hung them on thelength of chain I chose from my ‘stash’ of chain. I went for something that looked old and vintagey since I was working with old pieces I wanted the feeling of all the pieces to fit the concept.
I chose a great big clasp and decided to make fasten it in the front on the right side for more visual impact. I thought about leaving the carpenter’s rule pieces as is, they were quite fun and made a wonderful noise when they clicked together on the necklace. Somehow, it just didn’t seem quite finished so I pulled out my button jar and picked out several that looked to have the same age and wear as the rulers.
I chose shiny brass wire, 18 gauge, but I dipped it in Novacan patina solution to blacken it. After I pulled it out I ran steel wool down it and presto, vintage wire.
I double wrapped the buttons in wire. I looped wire through the buttons-all two or four hole through and through buttons- and twisted it three times, added two or three slices of puka shell from an old scrounged necklace, and then twisted the back side too to make a button unit. I fastened on the buttons with jump rings, using red ones, green ones and tan ones.
Of course the office staff was snoozing through the whole process…
I hope you get inspired and look around to see what you have on hand that can make something as fun as this necklace. It’s not junk! It’s jewelry!
This necklace is currently available at Matter Gallery in Olympia, Washington.