Pennies aren’t worth much these days. But I give them added value by calling on those shiny copper discs to inspire my crafty side. A recent U S Treasury budget report confirmed, once again, that the cost to ship and produce pennies far exceeds their value. Pennies don’t seem to be worth the effort it takes to make them, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When used as a craft material, the lowly penny can be economical, inspirational and priceless. Once you figure out how to add a few holes, those shiny copper discs will set your crafty side in motion; and best of all, the cost will fit easily into most budgets. You’ll need a few additional supplies, but the overall expenditure for each project will be… mere pennies. And your teen might even decide that decorating with pennies is cool enough to want to help.
- Manual hole punch – check Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, or order on online.
- Small round file
- Black felt tip marker
- sewing needles
- Jewelry making tools: pliers, cutters, round-nose pliers
Materials for all projects
- An old wax candle
- 16 and 20 gauge copper wire
- Head pins, ear wires and beads
Copper Penny necklace – time 1 hour plus
Create a basic penny necklace with figure 8s and pennies. If you want something a bit fancier, make wire shapes and add them in wherever you please.
-Use a felt tip marker to mark a spot for a hole at the top of 8 pennies.
-Add wax to “lubricate” the metal, then make your holes.
-Use alcohol on a cloth to clean away any wax and marker residue.
-Make 40 figure 8s with 16 g wire. See the article “Make a Bracelet Even a Grandma Could Love” for instructions to make figure 8s, and a few wire-working tips.
-The above article also has instructions for a simple figure 8 bracelet with a penny charm, as well as the Shepard’s hook clasp you’ll need to complete your penny necklace.
-Connect 32 figure 8s together to form a chain.
-Make and add a Shepard’s hook clasp to one end.
-Use the remaining figure 8s to dangle pennies from the chain beginning at the center and working outward. (See photo #1)
-Use 20 and 16 gauge wire to create and add wire swirls. (optional)
-Add more pennies if you choose.
Make Penny Buttons for a Jacket – time 20 minutes
Add quick and easy copper accents to a not so cool jacket or blazer by creating penny buttons.
-Mark your pennies where you want to make holes: two or four holes just like buttons.
-Use a small round file to smooth the holes inside and out.
-If you don’t file the holes your penny buttons will easily cut right through the thread.
-Use heavy duty thread to sew your buttons into place.
Create a Fun Penny Bracelet – time 1 hour
Check out the article “Create a Bracelet With Pennies.” It has step-by-step instructions for making a bracelet using 7 pennies, figure 8s and a Shepard’s hook clasp.
Make Penny Earrings – time 20 minutes
-For a simple pair of penny earrings, make holes at the top of two pennies and add ear wires.
-For something a bit fancier, add holes to the bottom as well.
-Add jump rings or figure 8s to the bottom hole.
-Use head pins to add a bead.
-Make and add copper wire swirls.
What if you Don’t Like Penny Patina?
Pennies can add a hint of fun to your crafts, but what if you don’t like the inevitable dark patina that will show up sooner or later? Personally I love ever-darkening copper. It’s like a living thing, but if you don’t love it the way I do, you can clean it away with a store bought anti-tarnish preparation.
For something a bit more natural, try dipping your pennies in vinegar with or without a little salt. It won’t restore the original shine, but it will erase most of the patina. Lemon and salt will work as well.