I apologize for the posts which are now missing images

5 August 2013

GUEST - Tutorial: Make a Lucite Initial Brooch

Leah Loverich

Hello everyone! This is Brittany from Va-Voom Vintage. While Leah is away on her fabulous birthday trip to London I thought you might enjoy a tutorial for how to make a Lucite initial brooch. 

Lucite was first patented in the 1930s by  DuPont as a means to build strong, lightweight and affordable parts for military planes and submarines during World War II. After the war, it was marketed for use in jewelry, accessories and later in furniture and home decor. It soon became a favorite material for couture designers and ready-to-wear manufactures alike. This is my vintage Lucite accessory collection.

Leah Loverich

Did you know that Lucite, Plexiglass and Perspex are all the same thing? That's right! There is no chemical difference between Lucite, Pexiglass, Perspex or acrylic. "Lucite" is just a name brand like Kleenex tissue or Cheerios cereal.

A few years ago, I went to dinner with my best friend, Amanda and she was wearing the most adorable over-sized Lucite "A" brooch. She found it on Ebay for a song. I loved it so much, I had to find a "B" for myself.

I attempted to hunt some down for a few friends but they are often hard to find in certain letters so I decided to try to make my own.

First, sketch your initial on paper. My original B brooches are about 3 inches tall so I measured 3 inches on the paper and used that as a guide. Remember that your initial will be made of a single piece of plastic so you may have to play with designs for "T" "F" "Q" and other initials that usually use more than one stroke

With a pair of wire cutters, clip your rod to about 16 inches long.

 There may be some out-gassing that occurs when the plastic is heated and I don't want any toxic fumes in the house so move your heat gun to a small table on the patio. I set it up on the table and switch it on so it runs the whole time I'm working.

 With gloves on to protect your hands from the hot plastic, turn the heat gun on and hold a section of rod a few inches from the heat until it becomes pliable. To keep the acrylic from burning, pass the rod quickly back and forth across the heat. If it bubbles and darkens, it has become too hot. It may help to practice on a strip of acrylic before working on your brooch.

Gently bend the rod into shape, heating and bending slowly.  Hold loops in place until they are cool, then move on to the next section to heat.  I blow on sections to cool them quicker as I work.

Use your sketch to guide your shaping as you go.

Sometimes I give the rod a little twist here and there and heat the edges to flatten them a bit. To curl the ends, heat the end and pinch it to form a loop.

When the initial is complete, clip off the excess, curl the end and glue the pin back to the back of the initial and allow to dry

Leah Loverich

As you can see, small bubbles may form when a section is heated. I've had some success removing some of the bubbles by holding it with metal tongs and passing it very quickly through a creme brulee torch.

resources for acrylic rods
acrylic rods in various sizes and colors sold several to a pack from hobbylinc
square, round, colorful, black, white and clear rods sold one at a time from estreet plastics

heat guns
Every girl needs a heat gun in the house! Aside from making jewelry, you can also use them to reupholster your retro dinette chairs, shrink wrap gifts, defrost the freezer, repair vinyl and leather accessories and other craft projects. I bought mine from Harbor Freight for less than $20 but you can often find them very reasonably priced at small hardware stores and craft stores. I did attempt to heat the acrylic with a hair dryer but it just didn't get hot enough.

Next time, I think I'll make a matching set of rhinestone embellished Lucite bow dress clips!

 I hope you girls have fun making your own Lucite jewellery and thank you to Leah for having me!


Vivian de Violet said...

Oh wow, it looks really nice, I love handmade jewellery, thank you fr sharing, and I cant see pictures taken by Leah in London :)

Bonita Vear said...

Lovely post as always Brittany! It's very cute idea. ♥


Jessica Cangiano said...

Mind-blowingly awesome creation, dear Brittany. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful, super easy to follow howto. Never have a bookmarked a post for future reference faster.

♥ Jessica

SANNE said...

I have to give this a try. I'm glad my letter is an S - should be quite easy. :)

Bunny Moreno said...

You did a fabulous job Britt! Love it! You rock those tools hehe Hope you're a great trip Leah! xox

vintagelovingal said...

Oh my! This is fantastic!! I've been looking for my initial too for a long time and would LOVE to make my own....this is a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing!


mary van note said...

I am so going to try this! Great tutorial! I never thought to try and make my own...

Pinky Honey said...

Amazing crafts-work dear girl!


vintagevisions27 said...

Oh these are great! You should make them to sell in your shop!

Deanna said...

Do you sell these, too? Or take commissions?