Wednesday, August 3, 2011

DIY: skull and pearl necklace

Saw this skull and pearl necklace by Vanessa Arizaga in this month's Teen Vogue for $150.
It's absolutely adorable. I love the contrast of the skulls with the sweet look of the pearls.
She manages to bring a variety of different elements and juxtapose them into one piece.
These are a few of my favorite pieces by her.

Her's are made from multi glass pearls and hand painted ceramic skulls.

I will attempt to make one of the skull pearl necklaces for a fraction of the price.

For mine I will be using:
-8mm Glass pearls (white with an undertone of green) 50 pcs. $1.99 - Hobby Lobby
-White Kato Polyclay $1.99 - Hobby Lobby
-Silk thread $3.50
-Black Acrylic Paint
-Clear Nail Polish
-Lobster clasp (you can find a pack of about 18 for around $2)
-French wire $2
-Paint Brush with a fine point tip
-Toothpick or anything with a hard fine tip
(for an even cheaper and simpler version, just buy a little spool of stretch magic instead, just make sure you can stretch it over your head with out it breaking)

I started by laying down a piece of wax paper as my work surface.
Clean your hands before starting because every piece of dust and lint will get trapped in the clay.
Cut the clay into even pieces. I ended up cutting them into half the size shown below.
Roll the pieces into balls to see if they are the right size. I chose to make mine a little bit larger than the pearls.
1/4 of the clay makes about 14 skulls.

Then I rolled the balls of clay into the shape of a skull.


The top of the head should be larger and rounder and the bottom should be narrow and more oval.
I used the end of a paint brush to make indentions for the eyes and a toothpick for the nostrils.

Don't worry if they aren't exactly the same. Personally I like the fact that they look a little irregular.

I stuck them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to let them harden before inserting the toothpicks so the thread can be strung through.
You have to be careful with this part. You may have to re-sculpt the head as you are inserting the toothpick otherwise it may get a little squished.

Bake in the oven at 300 degrees F for about 10 mins.

After you take them out of the oven, let them cool completely before you start to paint.
Paint the features on the skull using black acrylic paint.

Allow the paint to dry completely then apply an even coat of clear nail polish over the entire skull.
I applied 3 coats to make it look really glossy.

After your new skull beads are dried take your thread and string up your pearls and skulls. Depending on how long you want your necklace to be you can add or take away as many pearls and beads to your liking.
For mine I used 30 pearls and 12 skulls.
(Optional) Make sure you tie a knot between each pearl or bead to keep the pearls from rubbing. This will make it last longer and look more professional.
The entire process for stringing 60 pearls can take an average of 1.5 hours.

Here is a really good tutorial on how to string a pearl necklace.

Part 1
Part 2


  1. I'll probably make one more, but this time I'll make the skulls a bit smaller.

  2. yay you should make bracelets too!