Making Tumbled China Jewelry
Have you ever broken a favorite piece of china and cried? Well, I have. Then I picked up the pieces and threw them in the Rock Tumbler.
Now, you’re asking, “What’s a Rock Tumbler?” Well, it’s a cool invention for smoothing the edges of rocks. It has a cylinder that can be filled with rocks, water and grit or sand. Then the cylinder sits on a couple of rods that rotate it and tumble the rocks with the grit. The grit smooths the rock so it can be displayed or used for jewelry.
So one day it occurred to me that more than just rocks can go into the tumbler. I started breaking glass bottles and when my favorite blue willow china broke it went into the tumbler too.
When the pieces came out they were perfect for making tumbled china jewelry. Each piece is wrapped with wire around all sides so that it won’t slip through any gaps and safely secured. You may notice that I always overextend the wire at the bottom and twist it near the china while leaving a loop to dangle crystals or some other embellishment.
Now, if you’ve tumbled rocks you might be aware that they can take a long time with several different layers of grit but china does not take that long. It’s much more porous and softer to begin with so you don’t want to leave it in the tumble for too long or you may lose the pattern. I recommend maybe a week with medium or fine grade grit. Check it every couple of days until the china has smooth edges but enough pattern left.
That nice square piece in the top picture was my first attempt at making tumbled china jewelry. I paired it with a thicker than normal copper wire bought at the hardware store and used a tiny bird charm, cobalt blue crystal and a faux pearl to accent. Oh yeah! At the top I wrapped a couple of loops of wire making room for the necklace which to hang it from and while making the loops I slid on a light blue rondelle faceted crystal.
I used plain old cheese cloth for the necklace. I think it finishes with a casual yet lacy look. Just cut it into 18” sections and then cut into strips. The width of the strips depends on you. I cut some thin and some thick (as you may be able to tell from these pictures). I tie a knot in the ends and they are long enough to slid overhead.
When I laid this piece of tumbled china out I noticed that nice point at the top and imagined a bead cap would be perfect to secure it to the necklace. It was! The thin gold wire wrapping the china runs into the bead cap and out the top hole and secures it to the bail connector (the ornate piece that the necklace is running through). The dangling ornament here is a piece of tumbled glass.
In case you are wondering, a Rock Tumbler is about $50 and each batch produces a large supply of stuff for jewelry making. I bought one on Amazon. Check out Making Tumbled Glass Jewelry for more on what you can do with a rock tumbler.
At the craft store I found a spool of a very fine filament wire netted into a sock. It was so cool I just had to buy it even though I had no idea what I was going to do with it. Then I had the idea of fitting this piece of tumbled china into it and creating this little pendant. It’s not easy to see the netting in this photo. Actually it’s thin enough to just be an accent and not take away from the tumbled china pattern in real life. Single strand gold wire is wrapped over the netting and as you can see twisted multiple times at top and bottom to secure the ends of the sock netting.
If you try this little endeavor (Making Tumbled China Jewelry), and I hope you do, you’ll see that each piece is as unique as what comes out of the tumbler. They will inspire you and guide your design.
The beach at the lake was littered with Sea Glass when I was growing up and we would pick it up with shells and pretty rocks. It was so plentiful that we didn’t think too much of it but recently I had a piece in my hand and rolling it over I noticed the beauty in it. It was translucent yet opaque. The edges once sharp were now smooth and soft. I was inspired! If you liked Making Tumbled China Jewelry you’ll find Making Sea Glass Jewelry very interesting!
So next time you break something, don’t throw it out! Recycle it!