Rivets and a Red Bicycle

Thalia Necklace

This is the first piece I have made from a beer bottle cap and I am loving it.  I enjoyed making it and love the outcome.  I don ‘t drink beer very often, but have friends willing to donate their caps.  They get to drink beer and help a jewelry designer at the same time – a win, win.  This particular bottle cap was given to me while I was at Penland along with some others.  I could not resist the red on orange, I loved the bicycle with its headlight, and so it was the first to be made into jewelry.

Bottle caps are not difficult to work with if you have a few tools.  First you have to snip the fluted sides so the cap will flatten out.  A hammer takes care of getting it flat.  Then you need to boil them for 5-10 minutes to make the plastic liner come out.  Some liners are resistant, others give up without a fight.  At that point, the bottle cap is ready to be cut into the desired shape and set.  I cut two identical squares from brass.  One became the backing.  I cut an opening in the other to make a small square frame for the pendant.  I riveted all three pieces together and drilled holes to hang the key and to attach the necklace.

I suspended a variety of crystals and glass pearls in red, orange, pink, and bronze tones from the brass chain I selected.  I think the key adds the perfect finishing touch.

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4 Responses to Rivets and a Red Bicycle

  1. Billie says:

    I LOVE the use of the bottle cap in the brass frame. I have been saving bottle caps for sometime and think this is a fantastic use of them. I have done some — not a lot — of cold connection work. I have also seen jewelry made using enamled tin cans that inspired me. Can you recommend any books or websites that would have the best info on doing something similar to what you’ve done with the bottle cap?

  2. Hi Billie,

    It sounds like you have a nice collection and if you’ve done some cold connection work, you are probably not that far away from doing something like this. If you’ve got some tin snips, take them and make a series of cuts along the fluted edge of a bottle cap. Use a bottle cap that is common place and easy to replace if you make a mistake. Then hammer it flat and remove the plastic liner as I’ve described in the post.

    At this point, you basically have a flat piece of metal that has paint on it. If you can drill and saw, cut out a frame like I’ve done. If not, look for materials that already have an opening that can become a frame. Then cut or find a backing that is at least the same size as the top frame. It can be bigger, just not smaller.

    Try making a rivet by inserting a headpin into a hole in a scrap piece of metal. The headpin should fit snug and it is easier to learn with thicker headpins rather than thinner. Flip the piece over so the headpin is sticking up and snip it leaving a tiny amount – this takes some practice to learn the right height and then working on an anvil, tap it gently until you form a rivet.

    The best book I have seen on cold joins is Making Connections by Susan Lenart Kazmer. You can also do a Google search on riveting and probably get some websites with tutorials or videos.

    I think the main thing is to try and I’m rooting for you. I know how it is to have treasures you want to work with and not have the skills at the moment. Let me know how it goes and if I can answer any more questions for you.

  3. Billie says:

    Thank you so much for the reply and the helpful information. I think I just need to get off the couch and quit thinking about it and actually do it. I have to start somewhere. I have a tons of caps as well as a couple of Coleman’s mustard tins and some gorgeous red Hungarian paprika tins. Your piece has certainly inspired me. I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to future posts.

    thanks again,

  4. Billie,

    I’d love to see what you do with the caps and mustard and paprika tins. Thanks for subscribing and I look forward to hearing from you again.


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