Bottle Cap Jewelry

I’m going to be a great aunt! My sister-in-law’s daughter is going to have a baby soon! And that means a baby shower! And that means CRAFTS! YAY! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to be crafty, and I’ve missed it.

Of course, the first step for any baby shower is to peruse Pinterest and find 7,289 ideas that are an absolute must-do. Then you realize that you have a limited time to do this shower, and you narrow your list down to a dozen or so “I’ll see if I can pull this off.” Fortunately, I’m the accomplice, and my sister-in-law is doing the hard work. I get the fun stuff!

One of the things my SIL posted was these nice little ribbons that have a bottle cap that proclaims “Grandma to Be.” She actually had several of them, so I think she really wants one. I decided to make them for both Grandmas-to-be and the two Great-Grandmas-to-be as a surprise.

And, yep, it was a surprise alright. I’m surprised at how difficult it was to do this! I mean, how hard can it be to make a bottle cap with Mod Podge’s Dimensional Magic? Uh…let me show you my journey. It’s actually not hard, but it’s more of understanding how the craft media work together. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures from the early steps, because I really thought this would be a straight forward project.

Step 1: Preparing the Bottle Caps

Being that we make and bottle our own beer at times, we have a number of extra bottle caps that haven’t been used.

First, you remove the inner seal. Some came out easily when the edge was coaxed with the side of a dinner knife, then a pair of pliers provided the grip to pull out the seal. Reading on the Interwebz, I also found out that heating them makes them more pliable. Except when some of them get very brittle and weld themselves to the cap! My advice is to skip the warming. In fact…well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I perused the Internet and found that it’s fashionable to flatten the edges of the bottle caps. How hard can that be? I mean, you take pliers and flare the sides out a bit more, a mallet and carefully hammer the edges down. Sounds like a piece of cake.

A piece of cake after you’ve had a lot of practice. My first several were pretty wonky. Surely there’s an easier way, right?

Back to the ol’ Google machine. And I found the solution: a tortilla press. Holy cow, it makes short work of it! They all came out perfectly. (And yes, I have a tortilla press laying around, too. Everyone should make their own tortillas as fresh, homemade corn tortillas are delicious and so much better than the ones you buy in the store!)

Now I have a half-dozen flattened caps with the seals removed. Ready for Step 2.

Step 2: First try

There’s also a long story about how I couldn’t get the software for my daughter’s Cricut to work right. It might be easier if I were actually in the same room as the Cricut when I try to make changes, rather than sitting in my living room while my daughter tries to print/cut it at her house. Wanting something quicker, I went with what I have here. My color inkjet needs ink, so, I went with the laser printer’s black toner on an orange background — orange for the pumpkin theme.

I never got Word’s word art to work like I wanted, but I came up with something that seemed OK. After locating a 1″ round paper punch, I had disks to put into the bottle cap. Working with the Dimensional Magic (DM) product, I used the product to “glue” the paper disk to the bottom, then put a beautiful, cloudy dome over each of the four caps. I put them away for a few hours to cure.

It takes a bit longer than a few hours, but around six hours later, I realized that the water-based formula must evaporate rather than cure, and the dome will necessarily deflate as the water evaporates. The little dip in the center wasn’t the look I was going for. Fortunately, another Google session finds that you can keep adding layers. Cool! And while I’m at it, let me add a couple of flat-backed crystals, because this orange paper looks darker than what I expected.

More DM, more waiting. Another little dip to fill in, and repeat adding DM and waiting. This product is really nice — it goes from cloudy to clear like magic.

But…the crystals look like little reflective blobs. Hmm. Oh, duh…it’s the faceted surface that reflects and scatters the light, so embedding those facets in a slab of clear acrylic means there’s no pretty reflection and refraction. Duh. And that background is now really, really dark. It didn’t turn out like I wanted it to.

Picture of Dark Orange First Try

First try. Flat back crystals/rhinestones don’t work well when embedded in the medium.

It’s not all bad. While it’s not a great picture, you can see that the crystals look like blobs. Not attractive. And the contrast between the writing and the background is too low. While Savannah’s mom could read this in low light, the wise eyes of grandma and great-grandma might not be able to see it. Back to the drawing board.

Step 2a: Another Try

So, crystals/rhinestones are probably OK if you put them in the top layer with just enough DM to hold them in place, with the lovely facets sticking out of the top. Not wanting to take the time to do this again, I figured I’d try to incorporate a pumpkin, due to the Lil’ Pumpkin Halloween theme.

Selecting a lighter orange paper from my stash, I chose a pumpkin clip art that I could color with my favorite Prismacolor pencils for color. Printed, colored, and punched, I was ready with the disks. With some more prepared bottle caps, I used the Dimensional Magic as the “glue,” then decided to try building up with thinner layers, thinking it might dry quicker.

Yes, I think it does dry quicker. But I still had a problem with contrast. I wasn’t seeing things with the first orange paper getting darker. This paper darkened too! Almost like it was wet and the DM seemed to keep it wet. The picture below shows the first layer of DM on the light orange paper. Note that the background paper is the same paper as the disks in the bottle cap.

Bottle caps with Dimensional Magic showing how it darkens the paper.

The orange background is the same paper used in the bottle cap jewelry.

Hmm. Again, not what I was looking for. The pumpkins really popped before I put the DM on it. Now it’s just kind of…blah. This picture also shows what happens if you don’t thoroughly check for bubbles — be sure to work in a well-lit area, and ensure that you’ve popped all the bubbles with a pin before it dries for too long. It’s worth going back after 10 minutes to ensure that none bubbled up from underneath the paper.

Step 2b: Back to the Drawing Board

A little Googling uncovered a tiny detail I hadn’t noticed: one should seal the paper before applying the Dimensional Magic. I shoulda thought of that after the first try, right?

This time, I’m working on the same pumpkin design to color, but instead of orange paper, I used white cardstock for the greatest contrast. After printing and coloring, I used some Krylon Crystal Clear Gloss spray leftover from another project. After a few light coats on both sides, I let it dry (about 15 minutes), then punched out the disks. For good measure, I sprayed a little pool of the Krylon and rolled the edges of the paper to seal them, too. It was kinda fun to roll the disks like little wheels through the puddle!

Punched designs ready to put in bottle cap jewelry.

Punched designs of the last try. Note the sheen on them. They are coated with a clear finish to protect the paper from darkening.

One thing I noticed with the previous tries was how deep the image was under the DM. What if I didn’t pull out the bottle cap seals, using them as a platform to bring the design closer to the surface. (Bonus: no need for the hassle of pulling out the seals!)

This time, instead of using a very thin layer of DM as glue, I filled up the seal until the medium was level with the raised portion of the seal.

Filing the caps up to the level of the raised part of the seal.

Filling the caps with Dimensional Magic up to the raised part of the seal. Note this pictures was taken before popping the bubbles!

Once you have this step completed, take extra care when you place the paper disk. Be sure not to introduce more bubbles underneath it! Use a soda straw to seat the disk and nestle it into the wet media. Don’t worry if some comes up over the edges. When it’s properly placed, add more DM to cover the paper. Let dry.

The paper design is placed and ready for a layer of DM.

Adding the paper. Push down to remove bubbles. Note the top one needs to still be pushed down, but the center one has a little bit of DM coming over the edges.

I used another two layers of DM to finalize the project. It still has a bit of a divot in the middle, but I’m afraid if I keep fussing with it, I’m going to wind up destroying it. I’m finally happy with it.

The four final bottle cap "buttons."

The final product!

Picture of the final product showing the sunken middle.

The divot in the middle.

Here’s a comparison of the three tries:

A comparison of the first three tries.

A comparison of the first three tries.

I like how the final try is brighter and isn’t as buried under a thick layer of DM. This picture also shows the evolution of a design, from something that kinda looked good (it looked better in my head, anyway), to something that was more interesting but low contrast, to something that is easy to read and looks good.

Conclusion

I had a lot of fun doing this project and learning about how DM works. I’m glad I had time and resources (like extra bottle caps) to play with to get to the final product.

Some things to remember:

  • Dimensional Magic will soak into paper and make it look wet. This can be a feature, but if you don’t want that look, be sure to seal the paper with something like Krylon Crystal Clear Gloss.
  • Dimensional Magic shrinks as the water evaporates out as it dries. You’ll get a divot in the middle, despite starting out with a dome. DM can be layered.
  • Several thinner layers dries faster than one thick layer.
  • Check for bubbles after about 10 minutes and pop them. Working in a well lit environment helps to find bubbles, too.
  • Embedding crystals or rhinestones in DM will remove the faceting which makes the desired sparkle. Don’t embed it. Instead, use a thin final coat to glue the base of it to the jewelry and leave the faceted sticking out of the item.
  • If you’re making something for, ahem, mature and wise eyes, be sure there’s contrast.
  • Taking out the bottle cap seal is counterproductive if you want a paper disk to look like an epoxied button. Take it out if you’re going to embed thick items, but otherwise let it prop up the paper disk.

I’d love to hear any comments, questions, or suggestions! Please leave me a comment, below. And before you ask: I do not know how this compares to epoxy products. I’ve used epoxies for a variety of things, even jewelry, but I haven’t tried embedding paper nor do I know if it reacts with the bottle cap seal material. You’ll have to do your own experiment, or find another blogger who knows.

I purchased the bottle caps at a brewing supply place. These haven’t been crimped on a bottle. Some of the seals came out without much fuss, others were problematic. I had some bottle caps that were purchased from a craft store that don’t have seals, but they also don’t flatten well at all.

I hope this helps!

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