How to Make a Cuff Bracelet With an Etched Design

4 Materials
3 Hours

I love interesting and eye-catching jewelry - and these plexiglass bracelets certainly make a statement. Because the background is simple and clear, your design can create a bold artistic image against your skin, almost like a removable tattoo.

Although these bracelets are made with just a few common materials, this project is a multi-step process, and it certainly helps to have some experience with drawing. These bracelets are great for artists who want to wear their art on their cuff!

Materials and Tools
  • Some 1/8 inch clear plexiglass
  • an etching tool or stylus (see photo above) - I have two. The one at the bottom of the photo worked better. My husband bought it at a home improvement store. I believe it's used for etching metal, like if you wanted to put your name on a tool.
  • acrylic paint in the color of your choice.
  • small paint brush for adding color

The first step is to cut a flat piece of plexiglass to use as the blank surface for your bracelet. My cuffs are 7 inches long and about 2 inches high, and I rounded the ends so the bracelet would be comfortable to take on and off. I suggest you use one of your own bracelets for measurements before cutting out your plexiglass piece. Use these measurements to create a template to trace for cutting out your bracelet blanks.

For the full directions for cutting the plexiglass, please visit my blog.

Hint: While you're cutting your plexiglass pieces, I would make a few at a time. If you make a mistake etching your design on your bracelet, there's really no way to fix it. You should have a few back-up pieces to use.

The next step is to bend and form your plexiglass piece into a shaped cuff bracelet. This process involves a few steps, but I have the full directions on my blog.

Adding a Design

Once your bracelet is formed and cool, your can add a design. You can trace your image/design on to your bracelet, or you can draw it freehand directly onto to the top surface.

If you want to trace it, first draw your image/design on a piece of tracing paper. Place your drawing inside your bracelet where you want it, and tape it tightly in place.

Use your stylus to draw or trace your image on the outside top surface of your bracelet. When drawing with the stylus, you will actually be etching your design into the plexiglass. You will need to etch deeply to mark the material. You will want to etch it deep enough so that it makes a white mark in the plexiglass. You should be able to feel your etched lines when you run your fingernail over the surface.

Your marks are going to hold the color when you paint your bracelet, so put your lines close together, use crosshatching where you can. You want a dense concentration of lines in your design.

Adding Color to Your Bracelet

Once you've transferred your image onto your bracelet, wipe off any plastic debris that might be on the surface. Using acrylic paint and a paint brush, color in your design as you choose. I would use the paint at the consistency that it comes out of the tube - do not water it down at all - but you can mix and blend the colors as needed.

Let the paint dry completely, preferably overnight. Once the paint is dry, use your fingernail to scrape off the excess paint, as you might scratch off a lottery ticket. You should scratch until you can see the details and lines in your design.

If the color is coming completely off as you scratch, then your bracelet probably isn't etched deep enough. I would suggest taking your stylus and etching your design again, making sure that your marks are deep and dense. Then repaint your design, and scratch off the excess color again.

There are many ways that you can personalize these bracelets with your choice of shape, design, image, and color. You can create abstract designs on your bracelet, or add images of your own artwork. The choices are completely up to you.

Suggested materials:

  • 1/8 inch Plexiglass   (hardware store)
  • Etching stylus   (hardware store)
  • Acrylic Paint   (craft store)
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