Secret Love Letter Pendant (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

This grungy metal pendant is made from two stacked hearts:

Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . that open to reveal a hidden metal-stamped love letter inside:

Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And of course, you can create your own message in place of my “hugs and kisses” note.

Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

We want this finished pendant to look charmingly rustic and grungy – so no need to aim for “perfect” results with any of the techniques involved in this piece!

Supplies:

  • A small piece of copper or brass sheet, in 22 or 24 gauge – with enough space for you to create two hearts that are each approximately 30mm x 30mm (1.18″ x 1.18″) in size.
    (I used 24 gauge copper sheet).
  • Small piece of paper, a ruler, a pencil, and scissors – for making your paper heart pattern.
  • Super fine-point Sharpie marker – for tracing your paper heart pattern onto the metal.
  • Metal-cutting shears or tin snips – for cutting out your metal hearts.
  • Jeweler’s steel block and plastic, rubber, nylon, or rawhide hammer – for flattening your cut-out metal hearts.
  • Small piece of #0000 steel wool – for smoothing the edges of your metal hearts.
  • A scribe tool or large sturdy nail – for marking the holes in your metal hearts.
  • Metal hammer – for using with the scribe tool or sturdy nail.
  • Hole punch intended for the gauge of metal you’re using.
    (I used a Eurotool EuroPower punch, and its 1/8″ punch bit.)
  • A set of metal letter stamps – for writing your message inside the pendant.
  • A small piece of 400-grit sandpaper – to rough up the metal heart surfaces for the grunge finishing procedure.
  • A tin of black Gilders Paste, paper towels, and a Q-tip – for the grunge finish and darkening your stamped letters.
  • Two sturdy jump rings – to connect your two metal hearts together.
    (I used antiqued copper jump rings – 10mm size in a heavy gauge.)
  • A chain for your pendant.
    (I used a 24″ oxidized sterling silver ball chain.)

How to Make a
Secret Love Letter Pendant:

In this project we’ll do a variety of fun jewelry techniques, which I’ve broken down into simple steps.

You can easily substitute other techniques or supplies for many of the steps in this tutorial.

So at the beginning of each technique below, I’ll also list alternative techniques / supplies you might use instead.

Let’s get started!

Create the Metal Hearts

Alternative technique:

Instead of making your own metal hearts, you might use pre-made metal jewelry pendant blanks / stamping blanks, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

To make the two metal heart pieces, we’ll first we’ll make a paper pattern for them.

The instructions for each step are below this photo:

Make a paper pattern for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

  • Photo 1:
    Get out a small scrap of paper, large enough to draw a heart measuring 30mm x 30mm (1.18″ x 1.18″).
  • Photo 2:
    Fold over a 15mm (0.59″) edge of the paper.
  • Photo 3:
    Draw a guide line 3cm from the bottom of the paper, so you’ll know how big to sketch your heart. Below the guide line, draw half of a heart with the center of the heart on the paper fold.
  • Photo 4:
    Use scissors to cut out the half-heart. Unfold it to see your finished paper heart pattern.

Now let’s use this paper heart pattern to create our two metal hearts.

Caution:

Be very careful when handling your metal sheet – the edges and corners can be razor-sharp!

The instructions for each step are below this photo:

Cutting out the metal hearts for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

  • Photo 1:
    Use a fine-tip Sharpie marker to trace around your paper heart pattern onto your metal.
  • Photo 2:
    Draw a second heart near the first one, with a little space between them to make cutting easier.
  • Photo 3:
    Use metal-cutting shears or tin snips to cut out the hearts. I used these red metal shears.
  • Photo 4:
    Now your metal hearts should look like this.

Now flatten your metal hearts one at a time, by placing the heart on your steel jeweler’s block and pounding the heart with your plastic, rubber, nylon, or rawhide hammer:

Flattening the metal hearts for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Use a small scrap of #0000 steel wool to carefully smooth all edges of both hearts.

Wear breathing protection so you don’t inhale any particles of steel wool. (You may also want to do this procedure outdoors.)

The hearts’ shape can be rustic and uneven, but make sure there are no sharp edges or points that might harm anyone:

Smoothing the edges of the cut out metal hearts - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Punch Holes in the Metal Hearts

Alternative techniques:

Instead of the Europunch I use to punch the holes, you can use hole punch pliers available at jewelry suppliers – or you might drill the holes with a jewelry hand drill.

Or, as mentioned above, you could use pre-made jewelry pendant blanks that are pre-drilled.

We’ll punch one heart at a time.

The instructions for each step are below this photo:
Punching holes in the metal hearts - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

  • Photo 1:
    Use your Sharpie marker to mark where you will punch your holes – centered near the top of each lobe of the heart.
  • Photo 2:
    Use a hammer and metal scribe or sturdy nail to make a dent (“dimple”) in the center of each marked hole.
  • Photo 3:
    The dimples should look like this – indented, but not piercing all the way through the metal.
  • Photo 4:
    Insert your metal heart into your punch. Slide the heart around until you feel the punch-bit sink into the dimple. Then punch the hole.

Now your first punched heart should look like this:

Copper heart with holes punched for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

To punch the second heart in the same places as the first heart:

Lay the punched heart over the top of the un-punched heart, and line the hearts up as evenly as possible.

Using the punched heart as a stencil, trace the punched heart’s holes onto the un-punched heart with your Sharpie marker:

Marking holes for second metal heart - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Punch the second heart the same way you punched the first one.

Now your metal hearts should look like this:

Metal hearts for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Metal Stamp Your Message

Alternative technique:

Instead of metal-stamping your message, you could Mod-Podge a handwritten paper note to the inside of the metal pendant.

(If you’re new to metal stamping, be sure to see my metal stamping tutorial.)

Set out the metal stamps you’ll be using for your message:

Metal stamps for writing the message - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Stamp your message. Don’t worry about making your letters perfectly straight or even.

The message should feel handmade, not machine-perfect. 🙂

Metal letter stamping for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Your finished stamping might look something like this (with your own message, of course):

Stamped message for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Antique the Copper and
Darken the Letter Stamping

Alternative techniques:

Instead of grunging your metal with Gilders Paste, you can oxidize it with a boiled egg or use other patina procedures.

Instead of darkening your stamped letters with Gilders Paste, you can use your thin Sharpie marker, as I show in my metal stamping tutorial.

First we’ll give our metal hearts a grunge finish.

For the Gilders Paste, we’ll need to rough up the metal surfaces to give the Paste something to grab onto.

So rub a small piece of 400-grid sandpaper all over both sides of both hearts, till they have a visible all-over scratched surface:

Roughing up the metal for Gilders Paste - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Clean Your Metal Before Using Gilders Paste:

It’s important to remove all traces of skin oils and anything else that may resist or affect the Gilders Paste.

Wash both sides of your metal thoroughly with a generous amount of liquid dish soap.

After washing off all of the dish soap, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto both sides of your metal and scrub it well.

Wash off all traces of baking soda – and then without letting your skin touch the newly cleaned metal, dry it thoroughly with paper towels.

Set out your tin of black Gilders Paste:

Black Gilders Paste for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

. . . and set up a workspace that can get messy.

I contain the mess in a standard black plastic jewelry tray, lined with a paper towel.

In this photo you can see a green plastic lid holding an alcohol wipe (handy for cleaning up your hands as you work); a mini sponge-tip brush – available at craft stores (you can also use a Q-Tip or your finger); the tin of Gilders Paste; a paper towel cut into smaller pieces, and my copper hearts on a paper towel:

Workspace for Gilders Paste - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’ll do some grunge-antiquing on the metal hearts.

Tip: On the side of the heart where your stamped message is, you may want to grunge the metal very lightly, or only around the edges of the heart – so your message can be read clearly.

The instructions for each step are below this photo:

Gilders Paste for antiquing metal - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

  • Photo 1:
    Place your freshly-cleaned metal heart on a paper towel.
  • Photo 2:
    Use a mini-brush, Q-Tip, or your finger to scoop up some Gilders Paste.
  • Photo 3:
    Brush the Gilders Paste all over one side of the metal heart.
  • Photo 4:
    Wait a minute or so; then use a small piece of paper towel to gently wipe off as much of the Gilders Paste as you wish to get your desired finish.

When you’ve finished both sides of each heart, set the hearts aside for about 12 hours.

Then you can use a paper towel to lightly buff them to a soft shine.

Now we’ll use Gilders Paste to darken the stamped letters of your message.

The instructions for each step are below this photo:

Gilders Paste for metal stamping - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

  • Photo 1:
    Place the metal heart on a paper towel with your stamped message facing up.
  • Photo 2:
    Use a mini-brush or Q-Tip to scrub some Gilders Paste into the recesses of each letter.
  • Photo 3:
    Use a small piece of paper towel to wipe away the excess Gilders Paste around the outside of the letters.
  • Photo 4:
    Your finished message should be easy to read now that the letters are darkened.

Your finished grungy hearts should look something like this:

Grungy metal hearts for Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Sealing Your Gilders Paste Application

The Gilders Paste should be fully dry on your metal hearts after about 12 hours.

If you want to seal it after it’s completely dry, use a matte acrylic spray lacquer such as “Tree House Studio” or Krylon – using two or three light coats, and drying completely after each coat.

Put the Pendant Together

Alternative technique:

Instead of hanging your pendant on a chain as I did, you may want to use a leather cord to go with the grunginess. You can use my leather choker tutorial.

Let’s assemble this pendant and turn it into a necklace now!

Twist open your two jump rings, and thread them through the holes in the metal heart that has your stamped message:

Putting the pendant together - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now place the other metal heart over the top of the stamped message, and thread the jump rings through its holes too:

Putting the pendant together - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Twist the jump rings shut – and your pendant is finished!

Putting the pendant together - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Thread your chain or cord through the jump rings:

Slide your pendant onto a chain or cord - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And the necklace is ready to be given to someone special – to wear it and open the secret message:

The opened pendant - Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Secret Love Letter Pendant - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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