Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bottle Cap and Soda Can Bracelet

How many of you have been meaning to try this and just haven't gotten around to making bottle cap jewelry?  I have always loved using bottle caps as embellishments but never bothered collecting the supplies to do more with them.  Bottle Cap Inc products make it easy to pick up all the findings and finishing items you need and the new Vintaj Patina Inks have pulled me back into using embossed metal again.  Read on for information on how I made this bracelet.
The first thing I did was prepare my bottle caps.  You can buy pre-flattened bottle caps for $3.59/dozen.  These are also nice because they don't have any kind of liner in them that needs to be removed.  Commercial bottling caps come with a liner to help seal the cap onto the bottle.  The downside is the price and they don't already have a hole punched in them.  I find it easier to punch the hole with my McGill 1/16" hole punch before the cap is flattened, so I started with these black bottle caps available for $2.99 for 50 or $4.49 for 180.
I first removed the liner.  I held the cap in an oven mitt while heating it with a heat gun.  I heat it just until the edges start to curl.  I do this in a well ventilated area and hold it away from my face because I don't like to breathe in melting synthetic material.  Once the edges curl it will be pretty gooey, a little gooey to get a hold of with pliers.

I start poking at the edges to live them a little until I feel the liner start to firm back up, then while it's still soft and warm I can remove it as shown.  There is an art to this.  If you can't quite get it all out the first time, all is not lost.  In fact you can use these as flattened embellishments without removing the liner so long as the painted area faces out.  You can also re-heat if you need to.
The next thing I do is punch a hole in the ridged area with a McGill 1/16" hole punch.  If you punch in as far as you can the hole will naturally fall in a good place for hanging after the cap is flat.  Note: If you are not going to flatten the cap you'll need to punch in just a little further for it to hang correctly and it's best to use a nail to hammer the hole with a piece of scrap wood behind the bottle cap.
Now for the fun and amazing part flatten the caps.  Here are instructions for the Cuttlebug: lay 4 bottle caps (outside up) on the white A plate, place the C plate on top and run through.  It's magic.

If you're using a Sizzix or other machine and you make your sandwich too thick on top the cap edges will actually embed themselves into the plate, so make sure you use the white platform along with some combination of plates that is 3/16" thick on top.  I use the Sizzix Big Shot Express but I use my Cuttlebug C Plate since the machine didn't come with a plate that thickness.

These little split rings are a little hard to pry open (like a key chain rings) but they are very secure.  They won't pull apart like jump rings can.  My trick is to poke an awl into them, carefully and angle it to hold it open while getting it started the hole.  Sometimes I use needle nose pliers to circle it around.  I guess some people do all this with their fingers.  That's hard on the nails.  There is such a thing as a specialized plier for opening split rings, but I found my dull awl worked ok.

Now they're just begging for decoration.  I used 3 basic ways.  For a simpler project, select just one.

Rubber Stamped Bottle Cap Stickers

I used a sheet of 1" circle stickers. These are available for  $1.99 for 3 sheets which is 240 stickers.  I cut two rows off of one sheet so I could keep the other part of the sheet for another project.  I stamped a crackle background image onto the stickers and then pulled them off the sheet and laid them on my non-stick cutting mat.  You can use freezer paper or extra sticker backing, too.  I was using small stamps on this project but sometimes I like to use images that are larger than the 1" circle and I don't want the image to overlap.
I stamped the flowers and bees over the crackle background in black and then sprayed the stickers with Fireworks spray ink.  Danube Blue and Grape Jelly over the flowers and Dandelion and Angel pink over the Bees.

Next I just applied them inside the bottle caps and applied 1" epoxy dots over the stickers available for about $3 for a pack of 12.  Just take care, if your image has a right side up, to keep in mind where the jump ring will go when you apply your sticker.

You could do the same for the backs, without or without the epoxy dots.  If you don't use epoxy dots you may wish to seal the stickers with a clear glue like Glossy Accents or Diamond Glaze.
I wanted to do something different using the metal from a soda can.

Embossed Soda Can Shapes

Soda can aluminum is just perfect for this project.  It's the right thickness.  It embosses well and it is stiff enough to hold the design.  I have searched for the easiest way to cut open an empty soda can and the best I can find is to use tin shears.

I used a pair of dull Kai scissors I needed to get sharpened anyway.  I wouldn't use the ones I cut rubber with because it will surely dull them.  I poked hole near the top of the can with an awl and forced the tip of the scissors into the hole and cut the top off.  Then I cut down the side and cut the bottom off.  Wearing protective gloves is not a bad idea, to protect yourself from the edges.

Next simply cut shapes with paper punches or metal dies.  I used both a spellbinders die and a paper punch.  For die-cutting,  I found I needed to shim my Cuttlebug  with a piece of cardstock to get a little stronger cut into the metal.  After I punch the shapes I added some texture with various embossing folders.

Next I just added some color on both sides of the shapes.  The branding shows through the ink a little but it isn't really identifiable unless you look closely.  I used both the new Vintaj Patina Inks and Adironack Alcohol Ink mixed with the Snowcap white color for a little extra opacity.

On the Leaves I used the Vintaj Inks by applying two colors at a time to my felt applicator tool and just dabbed it several times over the leaves until they were covered and turned them over and did the same thing on the printed side of the metal.

For the flowers, I did the same thing using Adirondack Alcohol Inks in Wild Plum and Snowcap, adding a little Cranberry to the smaller flower.
 The colors are quite vibrant.  If you would like a more subtle look, you could distress these a little with sanding or adding a little brownish alcohol ink over the top or rubbing a little acrylic paint into the grooves.
Next I shaped the flowers to fit the size of the bottle caps with some round-nose pliers.  You may be able to do this with your fingers as well.
I shaped the leaves with my fingers and wrapped the stem around one of the split rings loosely.  I added a drop of the Ultimate Glue by Crafter's Pick, which dries clear so the stem wouldn't uncurl and fall off later.
I used the same clear drying glue to adhere the flowers to the backs of the bottle caps.  It takes awhile to dry metal on metal.

Embossed Soda Can Circles

By punching 1" circles out of the metal soda can using a Marvy 1" circle punch I got the perfect size for fitting to the back of the bottle caps.  I also embossed them using various embossing folders, painted them with Vintaj Inks and sanded the raised areas.  I applied these to the backs of the bottle caps with the same Ultimate Glue I used to apply the flowers.


  1. You all are killing me!!! This is so cool. I really need one more thing to be addicted too. :0)

  2. I'm telling you, this would sell in a boutique, Stacey! It is so cool!

  3. SO cool, and great spring colors!


  4. Wow - this is a amazing! I love bottle caps and use them occasionally on cards but have never made jewelry. TOOOO cool!! :)