Paint, heat and sculpt a chunky cuff bracelet, then create and string thick Plexiglas beads on stretchy elastic.
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Plexiglas is a great jewelry medium: It's colorless, versatile and easy to work with, which means you can make it go with just about anything. You can cut it, drill it, even heat it up and bend it to suit your needs.
1. Cut a piece of 1/8" Plexiglas a little over 6" long. Adjust the length according to your wrist size. The width of the cuff depends on your preference.
2. For easier cutting, weigh down your Plexiglas with a piece of wood as you run it through your table saw. Use a low plywood blade with lots of teeth.
3. Round off the edges of the piece using a scroll saw with a spiral blade and sand down the edges on all sides either by hand or using a bench sander.
4. Remove the paper backing from both sides of the piece.
5. Add color either by painting with plastic paints and/or by using rubber stamps and ink. Paint on the back of the piece, layering your paints; the first thing you paint will look like it's "in front" when seen from the right side of the bracelet. Make sure the paint is dry and the piece is clean before putting it in the oven.
6. Place the cuffs on a parchment-covered cookie sheet and heat in an oven preheated to 255-300 degrees.
7. Pull the Plexiglas out of the oven when it is soft and pliable, usually 7-10 min. With gloves on, pick up the softened Plexiglas and form into a cuff. A piece of PVC pipe works great as a form for the bracelet.
8. Once the cuff shape is formed, take it off the PVC and curve the ends in slightly while the piece is still warm.
9. The plastic paint may bubble up slightly from the heat, giving the cuff the look of blown glass. For a variation, if you leave the Plexiglas strips in the oven for a little too long, it really bubbles up and looks even more like blown glass.
Plexiglas Bead Bracelet
1. Cut 1/4" Plexiglas into small squares. Do this by cutting long strips on the table saw, then using a miter box or chop saw to cut the squares.
2. Drill two holes longwise (not front to back) through each square piece of Plexiglas. You will be threading elastic through these holes; use the smallest drill bit your elastic will go through. We recommend using a drill press with a jig to keep the holes at the same point on each bead. Note: To prevent the plastic from sticking to the drill bit, spray the bit with a little nonstick cooking spray before drilling.
3. After the holes are drilled, remove the backing from both sides of the Plexiglas.
4. Stamp or paint the beads before stringing them together. Remember to work on the back of the Plexiglas and layer any paint. The first designs you paint will be in the foreground when seen from the front.
5. To finish the edges of each piece, apply some metal leaf to the edges and let dry.
6. Select elastic that coordinates with the beads. String the Plexiglas beads together on the elastic, or space them apart with other beads.
7. When the bracelet is long enough to fit your wrist, pull the elastic slightly and tie the ends together in a knot. Trim away excess elastic.
Plexiglas beads aren't just for bracelets: You can use them in earrings and pendants, or as embellishments for many other projects.