Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg.
This tutorial is an easy two-part project.
Here in Part 1, we’ll make simple leaf pendants from brass and copper:
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:
- 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.
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:
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:
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:
Now your metal should look something like this:
Now cut out your metal leaf using your jeweler’s saw or tin snips (I’m using tin snips):
Use your plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer and steel jeweler’s block to flatten your leaf after cutting:
Now use your file to smooth all edges and corners of your leaf and its stem:
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:
Your leaf should look something like this:
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:
Now your leaf should look something like this:
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):
Here’s the underside of my leaves – and a view of the finished bails:
Now head over to Part 2 of this tutorial to give your leaf a rustic potato chip patina finish, like this: