Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interchangeable Bracelet

I made a leather cuff bracelet for a gift for a Firefly fan.

Backstory: My family does a Secret Santa gift exchange between siblings and significant others. I got my brother's girlfriend (henceforth, M). I had seen the ThinkGeek Leather Statement Cuff and thought it was cool but wished there were more options for the plates. I also thought that it should come with multiple plates so you could swap out for different occasions. So, I decided to make my own.

How I did it: I bought the leather and stampable metal at a craft store, and borrowed metal alphabet stamps and hole punch from a friend. The leather was a piece that wrapped around my wrist and became the template for size. The stampable plates were from the jewelry section in Michaels. I liked the look of the riveted hooks, so I went in a similar but different direction and used jean buttons with similarly colored jump rings and lobster claws. These I think I got at JoAnn Fabrics. I decided to do mixed colors of metals and tried to give it an overall rustic look with the reddish brass buttons and clasps.

M is awesome and enjoys Firefly (some of my other gift thoughts before settling on this were also Firefly themed), so I wanted to do plates of well known quotes from the show. I chose "big damn heroes;" "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar;" "I aim to misbehave;" and "Shiny! Let's be bad guys."

To make the plates, I used the metal clippers I have for cutting steel boning to cut the plates to size. The corners I tried to round slightly and punched holes for the clasps to clip on to. I used the metal stamps to put the quote on (and masking tape as a guide line), and used the rounded end of the hammer to rough up the edge and add some "weathering" to the plates. Finally, I curved each plate to generally fit the top of the wrist.

I did not put a closure on, as I wasn't sure how big M's wrist is and knew that she has some sewing/craft experience and would be able to customize the size for herself. I did send all sorts of bits as closure options and in case of damage/needed repair.

What I learned: First, metal stamping is fun. Next, although I like the idea of the interchangeable plates, I think it would have looked a little better with slightly smaller plates. Also, I really need to take better pictures (my camera was malfunctioning so most of these are taken with my husband's iPhone).

What I might try next time: Smaller plates. I would also like to look into etching the plates in some way, to allow a little more customization with fonts and possibly images (stegosaurus and allosaurus, anyone?). I would also be curious if a stiff leather cuff would work (an open cuff that could be slipped on the wrist, but still with some sort of ability to attach different custom plates. I do need to learn more about leathercraft and metalcraft in general.

Final Thoughts: I think it turned out pretty cool, and maybe someday I'll make one for myself and try some of the ideas that came to me during and after making this gift. Because M lives in another state, I'm not sure if she gets a whole lot of use out of this, but I hope she likes it even if it just sits on a shelf on display.

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