Naptime Gnome Idea #12
Fun with Fish Tank Glass
You can make simple, professional looking, CUSTOM, charms for use in: jewelry, key rings, hair clips, handbag bling, or just about anything! The best part? You can use photos from your friends and families Facebook pages, so you won’t even have to clue them into the surprise! I apologize in advance for the crumby photos. I took many of them with my iPhone prior to gifting last year, with no intention of ever using them again… oops, but I think you can get a feel for what’s happening here… so without further adieu…
The bracelet was made for great-grandma, each photo link features a grandchild and their family. I was able to acquire the pictures through my mom(-in-law) and Facebook. One great little attribute of this project, the photos are so tiny you can use pics cropped from family reunion shots, pictures that have oodles of stuff going on, or even phone photos that have relatively poor resolution… granted, they should probably have better detail than the ones with which I’m presently torturing you! 🙂
The same technique can be used to make charms for Pandora bracelets (and the like), or key chains for dads and grandpas to more readily brag. This one is the hubby and I, trailed by each of the munchkins.
FUN MAN GIFT IDEA ALERT: My dad isn’t really the type to “brag,” so instead of using kiddle photos, he received a set of key chains, each of one of his vintage cars with its year dangling from the photo. This way, each car key can be mounted on a ring featuring its own pic… they’re probably snuggling up in a jewelry box next to the valentine I made him when I was six, but it was the most useful gift I could come up with for him, and he seemed to be rather tickled with them.
The Back-Story on This Idea: I originally wanted to make brag bracelets for our mom’s for mother’s day, I ended up using picture frames available in the findings section at our local craft store, and they were fine, but the pictures were hard to see because of their size. Then a realized they would appear larger under a convex “lens.”
Which made me think of the ever-popular magazine cut-out magnets, which by the way, would be a fun heart gift for the kiddos to help with, or do themselves if they’re a bit older (I’ll have to do a mini post for those that may not have come across this method in the past).
While looking for plain round medallions to mount these on I came across these great little medallion chains at Micheal’s (this is starting to sound like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…”).
You can “find” them with the findings and other jewelry making supplies. These can also be used with a liquid plastic product (also great fun to use) to make all sorts of fun charms and custom jewelry. But today, we shall use them to make fish-eye photo charms!
The only issue was durability. I decided silicone glue, the same kind you use to mount things in the shower, would have the best shot at being water resistant. So I gave it a try, and in true Naptime Gnome fashion, abused it a bit to make sure it would hold tight, ok, it may have been a bit more than “a bit” ;). So far, I’ve been pretty lucky. Although, I wouldn’t go all crazy and test it out at swim practice, or wear them in the shower on a regular basis. The only issue seems to be the stability of the paper, it will literally split – leaving the face under the glass, and the backing firmly adhered to the medallion. But a little extra silicone seems to extend the life of the charms (see below).
- Clear glass fish tank marbles, the flattened “drop” variety
- Silicone glue
- Small medallions (I tried metal washers once, they actually worked great, but required soldering to affix a jump ring, and these nifty little findings, available at Micheal’s, are fairly cheap and eliminate the need for soldering… PS, while the chrome ones are REALLY pretty and great for all sorts of other jewelry, you CAN’T weld/solder anything to them… so not for this one)
- Printed photos (you could also use logos or other fun cutouts)
- Jump rings as needed
- Key ring or clasps as needed
Quick and Dirty Run-Down
1. Measure the diameter of the mounting surface on your medallion. Print photos small enough to fit this diameter, and allow a little space (1/16″ all the way around is good), using the highest quality setting. Once you place the glass over them EVERY little dot becomes a focal point, so you’ll want to make sure you have a nice high resolution.
NOTE (Skip this if you are a seasoned photo printer): I use a simple method just about anyone has the software to execute, so if you are not sure how to get the right size photo to spit out of your printer, here’s a quick run through: using a word processing program like Word or Pages, drag the photos you want to use onto the page/field, or import them if you are using older software that requires importing or inserting photos. Then mask or crop the photos using a circle shape. Make sure the rulers or guides are showing, and use them to manipulate the circle to the proper size, then move your photo around within the shape to produce the desired image. Be sure your circles are all within the printable field, and print using the highest quality setting.
Easier yet, if you use Apple Pages, just draw an appropriately sized circle and drag a picture into it from iPhoto… resize… TAH-DAH!
3. Use a pencil to mark the excess that needs trimming. You will want to go as small as you can, without allowing any of the trimmed edges to be visible though the marble. Use the marble you anticipate mounting over it, to test periodically while trimming.
4. Add a peas-sized dab or dollop (I love that word!) of silicone to the center of a medallion and press the photo securely into place, allowing some of the silicone to bead along the edge of the photo. If no silicone oozes out from around the photo, CAREFULLY remove the photo and add a bit more. This step is important to help prevent your charm from splitting in two, as mentioned above.
5. Once the picture is centered on the medallion with a bit of silicone peeking out all the way around, apply another pea-sized dollop of silicone glue, this time on the face of the photo.
6. Select a marble that is relatively round, and not too big. The picture below shows a nicely-proportioned round lens (on the left), as compared with his slightly over-sized, asymmetric, mutant brother (on the right).
7. Press the marble into the picture making sure there are no bubbles. You may need to press firmly for a few seconds, moving it around a bit to work out the air, so it doesn’t lift and obscure the picture. You can adjust the glass a bit to get the best “view” of the photo beneath.
8. Using your finger, carefully smooth the silicone around the marble to seal in your picture. Remove any excess silicone
NOTE: If you’re new to silicone, it’s hydrophobic, so it doesn’t “wash off,” however, you can “roll” it off your fingers once it tries a bit.
9. Let dry at least 24 hours, and preferably a few days before wearing or using.
-The Naptime Gnome <;’)