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Pretty Palettes: April Reveal (Part II)

Let me be the first to admit, I may have taken this month’s Pretty Palettes challenge a bit too seriously.

Maybe I had too much time on my hands, or maybe I just really liked the whole “rusty gear” theme, but I ended up doing a totally over-the-top mixed media piece. There’s stuff glued to other stuff, and some more stuff that’s painted, gilded, hammered, and wired together.changing gears whiteLR

Where do I even start? It was a process, which evolved through trial and (much) error.

OK, lets start with the obvious—the gears. These come in a set of several different sizes, all shiny silver and not grungy at all, so my first order of business was to get some character on those bad boys. I took a ball peen hammer to them and bashed them up a bit so the surface would be more distressed. Then to add color, I used patina paint thinned down with some glaze to make it less opaque. The more glaze you add, the more transparent the paint becomes. For the large gear I used black, while the smaller gear is a mix of green and turquoise with a little black dabbed on top. I ended up getting way too enthusiastic with the whole gear-painting thing and when I finished, the large gear was mostly (ok, entirely) black. Which I didn’t like, so I sanded some of the paint off. I liked how it looked after it was sanded a bit, so I sanded more off. Then more. Finally there was only a little bit of black left, which, (finally) I liked, so I stopped there. With the turquoise gear, I left more paint on and just sanded the edges a bit so some metal showed through.

I used epoxy to glue a flat, round antique brass spacer in the center of the large gear, and then a blue jasper heishi bead on top of that.

Then I discovered that those round flat spacer beads fit PERFECTLY inside the opening of the small gear, which was totally unplanned, so I must have had some good Karma left over from somewhere. I created a wire bale to enclose and connect the two pieces together, then hung it on some chain and connected it to the bigger gear.

pendent detailLR

a nice big photo so you can see all the detail

Then I turned my attention to the big, rough crystal nugget. I wanted to put some gold leaf on it, which is actually quite easy, but also a bit fiddly, so be prepared. You can buy this at Michael’s in gold, copper or silver, and unless you decide you want to gild your entire ceiling or your car or something, one package is enough to last a really long time.

Basically, you just brush a thin coat of glue wherever you want the foil to go, and then tear off a little piece of foil, which will try to fly out of your fingers immediately. (Your cat will think this is a super-fun game, but you will not.) Put the foil on the gluey spot, and mash it down into the crevices. Some will stick to your fingers because now they will have gotten glue on them, unless you are much tidier than I am, which you probably are.

My original idea was to gild the entire bottom half of a crystal nugget, and then grunge it up with some black paint/glaze. This ended up not looking nearly as good as I had hoped, as I was too heavy handed with both foil AND paint, so I chucked my first attempt and started over with a “less is more” approach. It’s a bit hard to tell, but the gold leaf DOES actually have a bit of black paint on top to dull it down a smidge. The key here is to wipe off almost all the paint immediately after you brush it on. This just basically dulls the foil down enough that it’s not super shiny, which wasn’t the look I wanted for this project.

After I finished the crystal nugget, I put a bit of gold foil on the tip of the crystal point as well, using the same method. I THOUGHT I was putting it on the bottom of the point, but after I finished I noticed I had accidentally put it on the top. (oh well.)

I also wanted to dull down the silver point and give it some age, so I used the same black paint mixed with glaze in a few areas and then wiped most of it off before it dried. I also put a bit of turquoise on the bottom tip, (and yes, by some miracle I figured out which end was the bottom on this one).

Finally, I put just a bit of foil on the edge of the large gear, and then decided I should put the foil and paint away before I did any more damage. I made some additional simple dangles with copper, jasper and black lava beads and attached everything to the gear.

changing gearsLR click me

I attached the entire pendant to some leather cord and copper chain studded with matching beads, and then sat on the couch and watched Game of Thrones while eating an entire bag of cookies.* The good Pepperidge Farm kind, because by this time I was not in the mood to fool around with inferior cookie varieties.

So there’s the whole story. Except for the swearing parts, which I purposely left out. If you are brave enough to try this at home, be my guest. Click the photo for a full materials list and step-by-step instructions.

*Cookies and HBO are not included in the instructions. Feel free to substitute as necessary.

Erin Strother

About Erin Strother

Erin Strother is a full-time graphic designer with an obsession for jewelry design living in southern California with her long-suffering husband George and their disobedient dog Swiffer. She has won 6 Pulitzer prizes, an Academy Award for “Best Virtual Sound Editing,” $4 in the California State Lottery, and other prizes too numerous to mention. She is currently working on her first novel, “The Summoning Circle.” (Really!) See more of her work at http://www.studioEgraphics.com and http://www.etsy.com/shop/StudioEgallery.



  1. Erin Prais-Hintz
    Erin Prais-Hintz April 28, 2016

    Fantastic, Miss Erin! I knew that this would be the challenge for you! I love the idea of gilding the crystals. I might have to give that a go! I think that you rose to the occasion and embraced this challenge as your own. Thanks for always having fun with me! Enjoy the day! Erin

    1. Erin Strother
      Erin Strother April 28, 2016

      This challenge is one of my favorites, so far! And I love seeing what everyone else did with it as well. The gears are really fun to work with–I’ll be using those in the future, for sure.

  2. Cathy Jakicic April 28, 2016

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  3. Sharon Piatek April 28, 2016

    Just gorgeous! All the steps and layering! Definitely your style ?