Create Unique Wood Jewelry with Decals

by Virginia Vivier – Chief Witch.
(Sunny Tucson, Arizona)

Creating unique jewelry using wood beads and decals can be fun! I found a supplier of smooth hardwood shapes, good for beads, pendants and earrings. I like to paint tribal designs on unfinished wood but found it difficult to paint intricate designs on small wood shapes. So, I experimented with decals. There are a wide variety of decals available. I found the “clear laser water-slide decal paper” works well with my black & white laser printer. You can create even more beautiful designs with a color laser (or inkjet) printer. Just make sure you purchase the correct decal paper for the type of printer you have.

Necklace-Bracelet-Decal by Virginia Vivier  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Wood beads with decals

Here’s a few helpful tips that are not included in decal instructions:

First, I printed out a sheet of “ganged” designs on plain 8.5 x 11 copy paper, then cut out each design to make sure it fit each item perfectly. This assures that each print on (expensive) decal paper will be perfect, with no waste.

Decal sheet jar lid by Virginia Vivier  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Printed decal sheet of “ganged up” designs – check size first!

After I printed the decal paper, I sprayed it (lightly) with clear acrylic spray paint. This makes the decal more durable if you have to re-position it a few times. (Make sure the clear acrylic spray will not affect the laser toner. Some acrylic spray paints contain chemicals that make the laser toner run, or turn a different color.)

Next, I had problems with the decals lifting off the smooth wood surface after it dried. So, instead of wetting the wood surface with water, (according to decal instructions), I painted a thin coat of “Modge Podge” on the wood surface before I applied the decal. The “Modge Podge” provided enough moisture to re-position the decal, but also acted as a clear glue for smooth adhesion after the decal dried. I was also able to paint color on top of the dried decal, with felt-tipped permanent markers.

Wood jar for large beads by Virginia Vivier  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Variety of unfinished wood shapes are perfect for decals!

There are other decals available that can be “baked” on smooth porcelain surfaces. They are more permanent than “water-slide” decals. I tried them on some porcelain mugs, and liked the results.

Finally, I live in Arizona, where the weather is very, very dry. I found that my decal paper wasn’t printing clearly. The static electricity from the printer rollers was smearing the toner. I called “Decal Tech Support” and he suggested a humidifier, which I did not have. So, I experimented by putting the sheet of decal paper in my freezer for 10 minutes and Voila!, it printed perfectly! I called the Decal Tech Support person about my discovery and he was as surprised as I was! So, if you have any problems with static electricity, try it!

Experimenting with decals can result in creative new designs! I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Unique tribal designs on unfinished wood jars

Unique tribal designs on unfinished wood jars

Virginia Vivier – Chief Witch
Etsy – Witches Hammer
Etsy – Esprit Mystique

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