Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shown here in brass

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg – shown here in brass

This tutorial is an easy two-part project.

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg - shown here in copper

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg – shown here in copper

 
Here in Part 1, we’ll make simple leaf pendants from brass and copper:

Copper Leaf Pendant Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Brass Leaf Pendant Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Then, in Part 2 of this tutorial, we’ll make an easy homemade patina from potato chips to give our leaf pendants a rustic Autumn look:

Potato Chip Patina Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Supplies:

  • A piece of brass or copper sheet – 22 or 24 gauge (I used 22 gauge copper and 24 gauge brass).

    Most jewelry suppliers that carry metalworking stuff carry sheet metal. I got mine online from Monsterslayer.com.
    (If you’re going to do the rustic patina on your finished pendant, make sure your metal has NOT been varnished. Many craft-store and hardware-store metals have been varnished.)

  • Pencil and paper to sketch your leaf patterns.
  • Ultra-thin Sharpie marker to trace your pattern onto the metal.
  • Jeweler’s saw or tin snips (tin snips are scissors that cut metal – you can get these pretty inexpensively at a hardware or home improvement store). I used tin snips.
  • Jeweler’s file or small hardware-store metal file.
  • #0000 steel wool – a small piece.
  • Round nose pliers.
  • Chain nose pliers.
  • Knitting needle (or a pen, dowel, or other item) to use as a mandrel for shaping your pendant’s bail.

    I used a knitting needle that’s U.S. size 11 (metric size 8.0, U.K./Canadian size 0).
    Make a big enough bail so that your pendant can slide over the clasp on any chain or cord you like.

  • Plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer for flattening and hammer-hardening your copper.
  • Jeweler’s steel block or other smooth surface for hammering your pendant.

Rustic Autumn Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

How to Make
Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants:

Get your pencil and a piece of scratch paper ready – we’re going to sketch the leaves we want to turn into pendants.

I started by drawing boxes of the size I want the finished leaves to be – one 30x50mm, and the other 35x40mm.

Then I filled the boxes with my leaf designs, and added leaf stems (which will become the pendant bails) measuring 3x40mm:
Sketches for Rustic Autumn Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now it’s time to get out your metal sheet.

Caution: Sheet metal edges and corners can be as sharp as a knife.

Please handle your metal carefully, and keep it out of reach of children and pets.

I’m making one leaf in brass and one in copper:

Brass and Copper for Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Cut out your paper leaf sketch to use as a pattern.

Use your ultra-thin Sharpie marker to trace around your pattern on the metal:

Copper Leaf Pendant Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your metal should look something like this:

Copper Leaf Pendant Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now cut out your metal leaf using your jeweler’s saw or tin snips (I’m using tin snips):

Copper Leaf Pendant Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use your plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer and steel jeweler’s block to flatten your leaf after cutting:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now use your file to smooth all edges and corners of your leaf and its stem:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Then take a small piece of #0000 steel wool, fold it over the edge of your pendant, and “sand” each edge and corner of your pendant till it’s silky-smooth.

Be careful not to cut your fingers on the metal.

Also rub both front and back surfaces of your metal leaf with the steel wool, working with the grain of the metal:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Your leaf should look something like this:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now let’s give our leaf some three-dimensional shaping, to make it look more like a real leaf and less like a flat cookie-cutter creation.

Look at a real leaf – how its folds, veins, and curves give it three dimensions.

Use your round nose and chain nose pliers to bend, curve, and shape your leaf:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your leaf should look something like this:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now it’s time to shape the bail of our leaf pendant.

Think of how a vine tendril wraps itself around a tree branch.

Smoothly wrap the leaf stem around your knitting needle (or other mandrel):

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Here’s the underside of my leaves – and a view of the finished bails:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg
Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now head over to Part 2 of this tutorial to give your leaf a rustic potato chip patina finish, like this:

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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Comments

  1. This is so neat! I’ve always wondered how jewelry was shaped and formed. Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings,
    Nici

  2. That is soo cool! I love them!

  3. Beautiful, just beautiful! Love love love the potato chip patina…

  4. So beautiful leaves, I love all and the rustic look! Thanks for sharing the great tutorial!
    Enjoy your day!
    Hugs and love from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

  5. oh my gosh, absolutely gorgeous!!

  6. D@TheShadyPorch says:

    Very neat project and I even have the sheet metal to do this! Again I learn something new…the potato chip patina process is cool. I hope I can get around to doing this sometime in the not so distant future. Thanks for sharing.

  7. These are adorable. Brings me back to my art class days. Headed over to see how you did the potato chip patina finish. Thanks for sharing!

  8. beautiful!! Love the way these turned out!

  9. These are so nice…what a great technique! Thank you for sharing.

  10. This makes me want to get into making Jewelry again!

  11. So lovely! They’d make beautiful brooches too. Thanks for sharing.

  12. What a fabulous tutorial, Rena! Thanks for this. Linda

  13. This is a wonderful tutorial! thanks for sharing it with us!

  14. This is just beautiful. Can’t wait to see more 🙂

  15. Beautiful!

  16. C’est superbe, j’ai vraiment envie de tester, bravo pour ce joli travail. Bien amicalement. Sylvie

  17. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing. I’ll give it a try. Pinning.

  18. So generous of you to share this wonderful tutorial of this beautiful pendant. Thank you so much 🙂

  19. You’re very welcome, Dionne! Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  20. I love working with copper and will be making lots of nature inspired components! One thing I have found is that the copper sheet that is generally sold in the roofing departments of big hardware stores (I buy mine at Menards) is the perfect gauge, pure and not varnished, not to mention so much cheaper. I recently bought a piece of copper that was 6″ wide and 10′ long, (10 feet) for $35! An incredible deal when you compare it to the cost of copper sheet at the major jewelry supply stores. It is wonderful to work with and takes a beautiful patina. Will be using it to make lots of leaves!

  21. This is a great tutorial, I have done some things similar to this. I also added etched veins onto the leave after I did the patina and before I sealed them. It gave a nice constants in colors.

  22. Susan McMahill says:

    Great idea! Alcohol Inks would look great on these, too! I think I may go hit my bench and get started!

  23. I love these! I think I’d like to add a little pin to the back and put them on my gardening hat.

  24. Jann Olson says:

    I love this! Can’t believe the patina is made from potato chips!
    Jann

  25. How beautiful and wonderful to have such a talent. Thank you for sharing how to make it in such a cool way.

  26. Wow! This is an amazing tutorial. I can’t wait to get the materials and try this out. It’s so clearly explained and the end result is so elegant and earthy 🙂 I love fall so this is now at the top of my to-make list! Thank you!

  27. I love rustic metal jewelry.

  28. What a great tutorial!! I love the patina!!

  29. Wow, they turned out beautifully!

  30. Seriously beautiful! These look like they came from an artist’s guild- really nicely done!

  31. thank you so much for sharing these pendants. I will probably also try painting and antiquing some of these rather than the potato chip patina. I love painting on metals

  32. So lovely, Thank You for sharing.

  33. Mary Warren says:

    I love, love, love leaves, if you were to go through my jewelry making supplies you would find leaves of al sizes and made of many different materials. However, I don’t have any like these and can’t wait to try them out. I love your Jewelry Making Journal, sometimes I don’t get around to reading it right away; however, I always enjoy it when I get the chance to read it and I always learn something.

    I thank God for people like you.
    God Bless,
    Mary

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