Save the Pieces, Part Two: Make a Pottery Shard Brooch (or Pendant) from Beloved Broken China
Many people have fond memories that are connected to a piece of pottery or china. Maybe it’s a special grandmother’s china piece that’s been broken, perhaps a pottery shard found while exploring a beach on vacation. Or maybe you’re a flea market shopper like me who can’t leave behind a pretty but cracked dish or teacup. This project by Julie Jerman-Melka is an ideal way to upcycle the broken shards into a meaningful brooch (or pendant). You could use this same technique with a flat piece of sea glass.
How to Make a Pottery Shard Brooch
A nostalgic keepsake from a broken dinner plate
By Julie Jerman-Melka
I enjoy the challenge of working with found objects and incorporating them into a wearable piece of jewelry. If you’re like me, you probably have fond memories of enjoying a special dinner with family or friends, using the “good” china, or maybe enjoying a cup of afternoon tea from vintage tea cups. Inevitably, a piece of china or one of the prized teacups accidentally breaks, and it’s painful to just throw the shards into the trash. In this simple project, I’ll show you how to recycle the broken shards and make a simple brooch, perhaps reminding you of one of those special times with friends and family.
Instead of using a commercial finding for this piece, I decided to make my own pin back. It’s easy to execute and gives the piece a simple, handcrafted elegance with an extra personal touch.
22-gauge sterling sheet: 2″ x 1-1/2″
22-gauge brass sheet: 2″ x 1-1/4″
6″ of 5mm 28-gauge sterling bezel wire
6″ of 20-gauge round sterling wire
4″ of 18-gauge round nickel wire
7mm half-drilled button pearl
flex shaft, #65 drill bit
soldering setup: torch, solder pick, Solderite pad
hard and medium silver solder
pickle pot with pickle, copper tongs
rolling mill *
texture paper to roller print *
liver of sulfur, ammonia
metal shears, wire cutters
jeweler’s saw frame and blades
beeswax or Bur Life
6″ half-round file
2-1/2″ bent steel burnisher
safety glasses, dust mask
buffing machine, 4″ muslin buff
Fabulustre or buffing compound *
Steps for Making a Pottery Shard Brooch
This project was originally published in the May 2009 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine (as well as in our free silversmithing eBook). Get challenging and inspiring metalsmithing and other jewelry-making projects like this one, alone with features about tool, new supplies, gemstones, and more, delivered to your home (or inbox) when you subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.
About the designer:
Julie Jerman-Melka earned her M.F.A. from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she lives and works. Her work can be seen in galleries throughout the United States. She also teaches part time at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming. You can see more of her work at Flying Anvil Designs.
* Supply notes:
If you don’t have a rolling mill, you can purchase embossed metal sheets from Metalliferous: www.metalliferous.com, 888-944-0909, or David H. Fell: www.dhfco.com, 800-822-1996.
I prefer using Fabulustre buffing compound because it gives me a lustrous finish and I don’t need to prefinish. It contains a cutting and a polishing compound in one bar.
Texture paper is handmade paper and can be found at art supply stores. Look for paper that contains elements embedded in the paper, which will give your piece a more interesting texture.
Learn more about metalsmithing in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine!