Since paper is the traditional gift for a one-year anniversary, it seemed fitting to create a piece of jewelry using paper as a tribute to The Studio’s first year as Rio’s blog. Paper is a fun and versatile medium, though not one often thought of when it comes to making jewelry. But with some funky bezel-cup earrings, a Raindrop resin kit, a few loose gemstones and a pile of colorful scrap paper, we can create a project that makes paper the star.

Autumn star earrings, made with paper and Raindrop resin

The materials

1.  First, assemble your supplies: I selected a pair of star-shaped silver-plated brass bezel earrings and some loose 5mm cubic zirconia for some sparkle. Any shape, color or style bezel cup finding will do—as will any kind of gemstone, bead or component that will fit inside the bezel cup. I also got some Swarovski star beads, just in case. For the inspirational material, I bought a package of paper from the scrapbooking section of my local hobby store. While I was there, I also picked up some acid-free school glue (the kind that dries clear) and an inexpensive paintbrush.

Cut a variety of widths and sizes.

2.  Prep your supplies: Out of your paper selection, find two or three colors you like that look nice together. Since I’ve been inspired by the autumn colors, I picked rusty copper, shiny gold and simple white paper. Paper that’s a bit rigid and can hold its shape will make this particular project easier. Then, cut the paper into small, irregular strips and triangles. They should about the length of your bezel or smaller. Make enough that you have a good selection of size and shape in each color you selected.

If in doubt, apply more glue.

3.  Almost ready to design! In a small paper cup (about 8 oz.), mix together one part school glue and one part water. You won’t need much, so don’t fill your container more than halfway. Mix the glue and water together until it looks something like watered-down milk and isn’t clumpy. With your paintbrush, paint a layer of the glue mixture over the base of the bezel where you’ll be laying your paper.

4.  Ok, now design! Using a pair of tweezers or your fingers, start laying the pieces of paper in the bezel cup in a random pattern. Alternate between colors and shapes to cover the base of the bezel completely or leave some of the metal exposed, it’s up to you! Use the glue mixture liberally to hold the paper in place. Then, make your matching earring, ring, bracelet, pendant or whatever.

5.  Seal the paper: Once you are happy with your design, saturate the paper with the glue mixture, being sure to cover every exposed surface. Set the pieces aside to dry completely before moving on to the next step. This is important to prevent the resin from discoloring the paper. To be safe, let your pieces dry overnight.

6.  Now that your paper-inspired pieces are dry, you’re ready to complete them with the resin. Follow the instructions included in the Raindrop resin kit to mix the resin. At this stage, if you have beads, gemstones, wire or other components you’d like to embed in your design, place them in the bezel. Pour the resin into the bezel as the instructions indicate. For my design, I let the resin cure for a few hours then placed my cubic zirconia in the nearly hardened resin so that the gemstones were set into the top layer of the resin. This way I was sure they would catch the light in just the right way.

Set your stones when the resin has hardened slightly to ensure proper positioning.

7.  Let the pieces cure. Set your pieces somewhere where they will be undisturbed and level overnight. Check on them every 15-20 minutes for the first hour for bubbles. If you find any bubbles, use a needle or toothpick to draw them to the surface. Cover your pieces with extra mixing cups from the Raindrop resin kit (or extra paper cups) to keep any falling dust off the resin as it hardens.

8.  Strut your stuff: Post a picture of any paper project of your own here on The Studio! We’ll consider it an anniversary gift for our first year in the blogosphere.

We’ve had a blast so far, and we look forward to next year’s traditional gift: cotton. We’re going to have to get really creative on that one …

The final product!

Would you like to make your own pair of Paper Earrings? Here’s a list of project materials:

1 pair silver-plated bass star bezel cup earwires
Raindrop resin kit
5mm round cubic zirconia
Assorted paper
School glue
Small paper cup

Attention all project lovers: Be sure to check out the Project Accessory television show, premiering tonight on Lifetime Network. This spin-off of Project Runway focuses on the creative processes of accessory designers, which means a variety of challenges to create jewelry, handbags, hairpieces and more. Check back here tomorrow for our very own Project Accessory-inspired “challenge” and plan to check back every Friday after the show airs, all season long.