How to Make A Custom Silhouette Necklace


diy silhouette necklace

I made this necklace back in November. And I never shared it here for a reason I’m kind of ashamed to admit. It’s not perfect. Not even close. And yeah, this entire place is built around the motto “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”. But, it doesn’t make it any easier to show my world the imperfections–up close and on Pinterest.

So I made this necklace and it’s imperfect but, I was happy enough with it to not remake each silhouette–which I now know how to do because I spent days on it trying it like four different ways–so I could redo it if I wanted but, I don’t feel like I need to.  I liked what I had enough to not do it over–and I actually wear it often. And, I get a ton of compliments on them which convinced me I really should write about how I made them, even though when you look at them close up, you can see the imperfections.  I can tell you how to make them and you can make them as perfect or imperfect as your heart desires.

So here’s a little photo of the items you need::

1. Ice resin (there are other products but I used this) to fill number 2

2. Pendant Bezel thingy (forgive me real jewelryers for not knowing these words)

3. ? Rub n Buff was feeling lonely and wanted in this photo  I don’t think I used him on this project but you could if you want–I took these photos back in November so you know, this is what I have to work with

4. Not pictured, you will need silhouettes–we’ll talk about how to get them in a few paragraphs

 

First you want to pick out some pendant/bezels.  I found these at Michael’s and or Hobby Lobby.  I tried three different kinds because I was sure this was a practice run so I figured I’d buy more of whatever kind I was happiest with.  As you can see they are only $1.99-$2.99 plus don’t forget to use your Michael’s app for your smart phone or bring up the Hobby Lobby coupon from their website for an extra 40% off.

(ignore all of those brass rings, I thought I would try those but once I found the bezels/pendant holders I figured that would be much easier)

Then you need silhouettes of your children, or dog, or yourself, Kevin Bacon, or strangers–whomever it is you want to feature on your necklace, you need their silhouette. There are a ton of tutorials online– here and here are a few.  I already had custom silhouettes made by a silhouette artisan so it seemed crazy for me to make my own.  If you already have silhouettes all you need to do is pop them on your scanner and shrink them down on your computer and print them off.  Or if you don’t have a scanner, you can take a photo of your silhouettes and load that into your computer and shrink the photo down and print it off on regular paper.  There are probably a million different ways to do it, but you just want a tiny silhouette, small enough to fit into your bezel (doesn’t that sound like something a witch should have?)

So included with the pendant/evil bezel is a drawing of the exact size of the inside of the bezel. Guard this little diagram with your very life it is your template.  If you lose it, you should just start over. Or you can pop your pendant in the copy machine and make a new template, but just to be safe guard it with your life.  And this is the part where I should have taken my time.  Because I assumed this was a practice run and also because I am the most impatient person in the United States I just cut my silhouette out really fast.  Now I know that I should have taken my time and cut a perfect oval.  Also, cutting a perfect oval to a specified shape is much, much more difficult than you might think–if I didn’t love the ovals so much I would recommend using a square or rectangle bezel/pendant whatever they are called.

See my horrible cutting skills?  I popped it out and recut it a tiny bit. But gosh it’s hard to cut a really good oval.

And next comes the part that I tried three different ways.  You need to seal the paper with the silhouette so the resin doesn’t leak through and damage your silhouette therefor rendering all of your cutting skills a waste of time.  I researched and found a few different ways, clear tape, a thin coat of resin or mod podge.

The clear tape works pretty good.  I tried it with scotch tape and duct tape and even tried to cover it with the plastic that came with the bezel. You need to first cut your paper to the exact size plus a tiny micro amount smaller than the bezel then cover both sides with a piece of clear tape and then push the air bubbles out then cut off the excess tape to get a tape covered bezel shaped piece of paper.  BUT, if you have any gaps where the tape isn’t stuck together on any part front or back of the paper you will get leakage–and it’s difficult to cut the tape to the exact shape without getting gaps.

I also read that you can seal the paper with a thin layer of resin.  I didn’t like this method for two reasons. First, you have to mix a large amount of resin to get it to chemically work–so unless you are making a big batch of these you will waste resin and second, the resin made the paper turn translucent and I didn’t like the look of it.

 

I found that mod podge worked the best–it left brush marks that you can see in a certain angle of light but it was the easiest and looked the best and dried super fast–perfect for the impatient.  And I bet if I used a different brush I could have solved the brush stroke issue.  I also asked my friend Kim who makes pendants and sells them–she uses mod podge so apparently that’s what the professionals use.

I also wanted to try  out painting the inside rim of the deep pendant. I didn’t realize how thick my paint was so when you look really close up it doesn’t look so great.  Of course, no one really looks this close up and at the time I was trying it multiple ways to see what worked the best so I could remake all my pendants the best way so I was fine messing around with the imperfect.

I had so many trials of these–but this is what some looked like before I filled them with resin.  Not too bad.  From straight on you can’t see some of my cutting mistakes. And really you can’t see them at all unless you get close up.

I used Ice Resin to fill my pendants/bezels. It creates a clear glass like protective cover that fills the pendant over your silhouette and dries hard.  You get to pretend you are a scientist and mix two parts together.

The first time I did it I didn’t follow the directions. I like to break the rules you know, mock the establishment.  It says you have to mix a minimum of a certain amount to get it to work but I only wanted to use the resin on one pendant so I hated to waste so much of it–it was expensive.  So I broke the rules and just mixed a little in a bottle cap.

Here was my first attempt.  I was cloudy because I didn’t mix enough resin.  So then I found this video which was really helpful, click here to read the entire post and video from Elysian Studio on how to use Ice Resin.  So the second time I prepped all three pendants and followed the directions correctly.

I mixed a decent amount of resin and followed the directions word for word–it almost killed me.

Here they are waiting patiently to be filled with resin–I put them on a little clip board so the hangy part could hang off the end so they could dry flat.  Then I followed the directions on the ice resin and didn’t touch them or breath on them or hardly look at them–they had to dry for like hours–maybe days?  I know it was hard to wait so long and that was the worst part.

And here’s what I came up with after they dried.  I tilted them for this photo so you could see how they look in certain light.  The one on the far left is a little cloudy, and you can see brush strokes if you look closely where I put the mod podge on to seal it (next time I’ll use a different brush).   You can see my poor cutting skills on the one on the right but, remember, I was just practicing so I would know how to make them for real so that I could make real, perfect silhouette pendants.

diy silhoutette necklace


So this was my final product after my practice run.

Then I decided to put them on and wear them.  You know, just for now. I mean, they weren’t done yet, clearly, obviously, I needed to remake them but at least I could wear them around the house to see how much I liked them. Then I wore them out to run errands.  Then I wore them to church and got a ton of compliments.  I was sure to tell everyone they were just “practice” and that I was going to remake them correctly and cut better ovals less impatiently really soon. Then four months passed and I wore them every week and loved them.  The I decided that I don’t really care that they aren’t perfect and even though I know HOW to make them perfectly, I don’t really care that mine aren’t perfect.  Then I decided to take close up pictures of them and share them here as a final product and risk someone telling me that I should be ashamed to show such imperfection to the world (it has happened before).

Do you have any idea how hard it is to take a photo of yourself trying to focus on a tiny necklace all while trying not to make your neck look old?  I really do love them.

And see?  This is how most everyone sees them–from afar.  Really they are good enough. And maybe one day I’ll be bored and make them over perfectly.

These boys are getting so much older and handsomer and funnier and fun to be around and grown up. It’s nice to wear a little reminder of their pixie-like profiles around my neck.  Even if my neck does look old.

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Comments

  1. I kinda like that they look imperfect – adds some age and character. Love this necklace – it’s charming (no pun intended). I might have to make one to match a silhouette bracelet I made w/ my kids images & shrinky dinks. (http://twelvehats.blogspot.com/2011/07/fun-with-shrinky-dinks.html).

  2. How sweet! I love these – and especially as my kiddos are growing faster than I can stop them. My oldest graduates this year… when in the world did that happen??!!??

    Sweet, sweet idea – and I’m so glad you share your imperfections with us :)

    Hugs,
    G

  3. I love it!!!

  4. Great idea! Love it! I will have to try it sometime when I can do the silhouettes – I will have to research! Meantime, it is so sweet and unique and it looks great on your neck – and no, your neck does not look old! Wow – those boys are handsome!!! Thanks for this tut!!

    • I did take out a big neck crease with my photo editing–why do I have a big crease on my neck? I guess they call that a big wrinkle.

      • No, no, no, haven’t you noticed, it’s lighting that’s all…honest!! You are still young and beautiful!! Now, repeat 3x each morning along with a good read of Ps139!! Trust me, it works!!

  5. Valerie J. says

    Awesomo!!!!! I needed some motivation to do these silhouettes I’ve been thinking of doing for EVER! You are an inspiration! Thank you! Okay, I’ve had too much caffeine already today.

  6. I just wanna say that your boys are very handsome! :) That is a nice picture of the 3 of them. Obviously, I don’t know them, but for some reason looking at that photo makes me smile! You can see a bit of mischievious-ness in their eyes & smiles. I love the idea of preserving their “little boy” faces on your necklace … so sweet. It doesn’t bother me at all that they are “imperfect” … they are images of your precious children & remind you of times past … sounds perfect to me! :) Enjoy your necklace & the compliments!!

  7. I love these & I love the way it turned out. I have three boys (7,5,3) too and this would be a cute, discreet, way for me to wear a little reminder of them! Once they start getting older I’m sure they’d notice their names or real pictures and that may be “way to embarassing, Mom!”. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Kim O'Donoghue says

    Love it…awesome. Can’t wait to do my three girls. Your boys are adorable. I wonder if you could do real pics? Might try something of the sort…I’ll let you know how they turn out.

  9. Just love it! Once upon a time, I was the owner of a sweet little frame shop and I would have a Silhouette artist in every year. I have many silhouettes and I love them so much!
    I made ornaments, but never even thought of making a necklace!
    I can not wait to do this!

  10. I can’t see your imperfections just a mothers love! I have two furry sons one of whom is quite ill so I’ll do them. After I ‘practice’ on them I’ll make some for my 83 year old missionary friend – she has 8 furry kids. I really love them.

    I am trying to transfer pictures onto stones and failing badly – they’re beyond imperfect. Have you ever done this?

  11. It looks great! (And I’ve never inspected someones jewels up close so I bet your imperfect secrets are safe!)

  12. Kim O'Donoghue says

    I just pinned this pinned this with your pin on your site. I have been trying to do the right thing on Pinterest, but I must admit I don’t fully understand it all. I guess because I am not a blogger (yet). But I do want to make sure that you are the original source, so I pinned from your pin and I just got an email with a million (only kidding) people saying they repined my pin? Please let me know if I did the wrong thing. I love your blog, read it with enthusiasm and want you to get the credit!

    • you did it exactly right Kim!!! Thank you for pinning–when you pin from here (the source) that helps people find the instructions on how to make them–all those people that repinned you? THATS WONDERFUL–since you pinned directly from the source then they will all be able to click on their repinned photo and find their way here to this tutorial if they want to learn how to make it–you did great!

  13. These are wonderful! I can think of an entire handful of people that I need to make these for now! :)

  14. First – your neck so does NOT look old! Second – oh my word – I adore this with my whole heart! If it wasn’t raining cats and dogs and the baby wasn’t napping and my son wasn’t doing his math and it wasn’t lunch time I would be running out the door this.very.second to buy the supplies to make my own! Shoot, maybe I’ll throw caution to the wind and go anyway. :) Imperfections be hanged – these are fantastic!

  15. I love them :) I’m glad you were brave and risky and shared :)

  16. 1- I LOVE this. I like it so much better than the pendants with names- because I’m paranoid about wearing my kids names on a necklaces. Weird? Perhaps. But I don’t need strangers knowing my kids names by checking out my jewelry.
    2- I was so happy when I opened this pin and found that it linked to you. Because I love you and your blog, even if I rarely comment. It was like finding a great project only to discover a friend was behind it.

  17. Hey Nester, GUESS WHAT? I just this week ordered silhouettes of my kiddos from Lena! I am so excited to get them ~ thanks for “introducing” me to her.

    Love this idea here, too. Beautiful.

    And can you tell me what nail polish that color is in the picture above {are you tired of answering that}? I remember complimenting you on it {or a similar color} at Relevant. I want me some Nester Nails. :)

  18. Love these! I will show you an old neck~it’s on me!
    Debbie

  19. Old necks unite. I wish this was our craft for this weekend!

  20. I love this! I love that it is vintage-y and modern at the same time. I think it would look awesome with a charm or three added as well. But, then again, sometimes I don’t know when enough is enough. Oh, and I am SO happy that you make awesome Pinterest worthy pictures, logos, whatever.

  21. I love them!!!

  22. What a great project and series of photos! So sorry to see the Rub ‘n Buff didn’t work on this project. If you use it in the future let me know – we’d love to feature on our AMACO Crafts or Rub ‘n Buff Facebook page.

  23. The neck is the first thing to go. Love them, and your neck.

  24. Such a sweet reminder! They grow up so fast.

  25. We did our duty and (finally) took our youngest two to Disneyland today. We high-fived on the way back to the hotel because we’re hoping to never have to visit a giant theme park again. The best part? I got custom silhouettes of my girls from a real live silhouette artist!!!! It was worth the overcrowding and the bad coffee and the corn dog and the persistent nausea. Now, I’ll have to make necklaces:)
    mwaaahhhhh,
    edie

  26. Are you kidding? It is the imperfection that I love! I am so glad that you shared you perfect idea. Lori

  27. These are wonderful! What a great idea. Love them more that they’re not perfect :)

  28. Sweet. Your boys are growing up and are so handsome.

  29. I love this and I think it looks great the way it is. Some imperfection is fine.

  30. Looks beautiful!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  31. Love them just how they are!

  32. Katherine says

    You are hilarious….and WAY too hard on yourself! The necklace came out so adorably!!! Well done! :)

  33. oh, i love your necklace!!!

    and, those boys are getting bigger! so handsome!

  34. Goodness gracious, I stopped reading your blog for a couple of years (too busy moving and making babies) and now I’m back and your boys are ENORMOUS! But still just as gorgeous. I’m glad I found you again :)

  35. I’m so disappointed you didn’t share this with you loyal loving readers sooner!!! It would have been the perfect homade Christmas gift for family. Shame on you :) :)

  36. I loved this perfectly imperfect sihouette tutorial. And I pinned it :)

    blessings,
    karianne

  37. I love it. I think its funny how we always seen the imperfections with ourselves or things we do and more often no one else does. They are so beautiful. I can’t wait to make some of my kids. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  38. Oh and I guess I should mention that we are all imperfect! That is something I always think. Look at my post above. LOL I wrote seen instead of see. Oh my. I have been trying not to care what other people think about me. Its a process.

  39. Love this tutorial! Thank you so much. I have been spotting these necklaces and I had been wanting to try my own so here it is!!!! I just got home from Michaels buying all the stuff and oh, I downloaded the App and got 40% off!!!!! Thanks for the reminder! I do love the vintage brass rings that you did not use in this photo…. Could you please tell where you found these or what to search for on the web to try to find them. Thanks again! Cindi

  40. I am obsessed with silhouettes right now! These turned out beautiful, and they look perfect to me. I am sharing this on my blog http://thesweetestmemoryblog.blogspot.com/and I have pinned it on Pinterest.

  41. this may be my first time being called a professional, thanks ;-) they look fabulous, but I’m not at all surprised

  42. Love the necklace and your post Fun to read!

  43. Stephanie says

    Just wondering how you found your silhouette artist…were the silhouettes done “live” or from pictures of you boys? I saw the name “Lena” mentioned in another comment.

  44. Awesome tutorial. The Kevin Bacon comment made me laugh. I love KB

  45. Hi Nester,

    I am following your tutorial and had a question about the modge podge. Do you just modge podge one side of the paper once it is placed into the bezel? Thanks again for such a great idea, my Mom is going to LOVE it!

  46. These are great!!

  47. I pinned these awhile back and finally got around to making them. I used the mod podge method but I must have not covered all the edges..once I applied the resin some of the paper became translucent like you said happened when juat apllying resin. They are not perfect but like you I’ve been wearing it around getting lots of compliments..maybe one day I will redo them perfectly. ;) Thanks for the tutorial!

  48. I have done silhouettes over 35 years, at both Disney theme parks, and love your tutorial for the necklace! I would be thrilled to make you silhouettes as mine have some style to them, or any of your customers. e-mail silhouettesbycindi.com
    I am going to study your tutorial, people always want the necklaces!

  49. SilhouettesbyCindiHarwoodRoseFacebook would love you to join me, and to share with you, I have been silhouette in-love since I was 16, and first started cutting silhouettes freehand for Disneyland, and Astroworld, while in high school. It is fun to do silhouettes at weddings, stores, birthday parties. I do the French art, by looking and cutting, and am glad that you and others are making this art so popular! silhouettesbycindi.com

  50. I just made this! But….I forgot the “sealing” step, so the resin soaked into my paper and I think I’m going to have to re-do it. Sigh. Thanks for sharing this tutorial though; it was super helpful…even more helpful if I would have followed ALL of the directions :-)

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