Art of Making a Bracelet

By Charles Hopkins Published 12/8/2013 | Crafts

Experience the artistry of a craft that goes back many centuries as you make this bracelet of pretty flower designs, brushed with gold luster and finished with satin smooth coats of lacquer.

Like most lacquer work of centuries ago, the artistry of this bracelet begins on a core of white pine wood. With a fineness of grain free from knots and resin, the pine wood is ideally suited for lightweight ornaments lacquered and decorated. One of the earliest known methods to embellish lacquer work was the sprinkling of gold powder over the lacquer surface.

Acrylic gold luster is the predominant color of this lacquer bracelet, making a subtle lustrous background for your flower design. Choose from real pressed flowers, cut-out flowers or try your skill at freehand painting. Remember the flowers are not realistic; they're simply your own expression in creativity.

Lacquer is easy to use if you apply it with a brush about the same width as the bracelet. Allow an hour drying time between coats. If your craft store does not have lacquer, use varnish or similar coating. Use lacquer thinner or paint remover to clean your brush when you finish.

For each bracelet, you will need one 2 ounce tube number 234 gold acrylic paint and desired colors; one each numbers 2, 4 and 8 flat, synthetic paint brushes; a number 2 liner brush; lacquer; a raw white pine wood bracelet; and flowers (either dried, paper or painted of your own design).

Sand the entire bracelet, inside and out. Move sandpaper in direction of grain of wood to assure a clean, smooth surface. Clean off dust from sanding and the bracelet is ready for staining.

Using burnt umber or similar color wood stain, dab into stain (diluted) with a small soft cloth. Apply lightly to all wood surfaces.

Blossoms from the back yard, roadside, woods or your own potted flowering plants all make ideal designs for your bracelets. Carefully cut the blossoms; do not tear or crumple any of the petals or leaves. Press floral pieces as soon after cutting as possible.

Cut blossoms from stem close to back of flower to allow flower to dry in a flatter position. Use same method for leaves. Stems can be painted after blossoms and leaves are adapted to fit.

Glue petals in place by lightly touching back of floral pieces with glue.

Use flower designs from greeting cards or wrapping paper. Cut carefully with art knife or tiny cuticle scissors. Under three coats of lacquer, the flowers smooth and blend to a fine hand-painted look.

For hand-painted flowers, mix red with dab of white to get a shade of light reddish pink. With number 2 liner, try experimental flower petal shapes on paper; then paint the shape you like where desired. Using number 4 brush dip into darker pink and dab at base of each flower petal. Add a few tiny swishes of white or paler tones for blends. Acrylic dies quickly so you can make changes. This basic procedure can be used with blue, orange and green colors.

Darken green acrylic with a dab of black for darker leaves, and use a dash of yellow to get a lighter green for others. Dip small brush into green and practice a few leaf strokes on paper. Enjoy your own individual expression of creativity. Dab flower center where petals meet, using white or gold. When dry, make 3 or 4 tiny black dots with tip of liner, holding it perpendicular.

After flower pieces are painted and dry, begin to decorate with gold acrylic. Practice a few strokes on paper to get the feel of gold paint. Use liner to make tiny lines on veins of leaf, outline around petals and highlight the design.

Add water to gold, so it flows easily. Work gold in and out and around your flower and leaf designs. Using your number 4 or number 6 brush, brush background strokes toward outer edges of bracelet.

The darker stained undersurface gives a soft dark golden glow. Coat edges well. Let all surfaces dry.

Brush inside with gold after outside is completely dry.

With brush approximately the width of bracelet rim, apply lacquer lightly over all flower pieces and outer parts of bracelet. Hold bracelet in light to check carefully that all areas have been coated. Make sure all flower pieces, especially paper cut-outs and dry flowers, are coated well.

Slip bracelet over top of bottle (shape of soda bottle). This will allow bracelet to dry resting on one rim. Check to see if lacquer is running. If it is, gently lift bracelet off and reverse position on bottle. Let dry 30 to 40 minutes before applying next coat of lacquer. Apply at least two more coats of lacquer for satiny durable finish. Before putting on final coat, sand with light paper any lump spots of lacquer that appear as coats of lacquer dry.