Posted on

Making Earrings From An Old Plate

Our finished earrings!
Our finished earrings!
Our finished earrings!

It took a few days, but here we are. Our very first tutorial on Broadway Designz! Today we are going to teach you how to make this set of super cute earrings, using an old dinner plate of all things. Yes…you read that correctly. We are going to be making earrings from a plate.

We have seen some other tutorials floating around about making jewelry using old, broken dishes. And the methods they used are perfectly fine. We however didn’t want to use a soldering iron or anything like that. So we are going to be sharing our method right here.

This is not all that difficult if you have everything, but it will take a bit of time to do. So be sure to have some patience. So if you are ready to get started on these, let’s take a slightly different look at our earrings, and go over everything that we will need.


And here is everything that you will need to make your earrings:

An old plate – preferably one that has some designs that you like

A Dremel or other cutting tool

A diamond plated cutting wheel, or other cutting tool that can cut through your plate

A grinding attachment for your Dremel or cutting tool

Polymer clay

2 eye pins

Safety equipment (googles, breathing mask, gloves)

You can click any of the smaller picture, and see a larger version with more details. Simply click the title that appears above the full sized image, and you will be brought back to this page.

First up you are going to need your plate. We have only tried this with ceramic plates, but the bulk of this tutorial will work with china too. We got our plate from Goodwill for almost nothing. As you can see below, it is not the prettiest design when looking at the whole plate. But I fell in love with the patterns that ran around it. They just screamed to me that they wanted to be seperated into seperate pieces.

Here is the plate that we used.

Now…my plate has this type of pattern, but you can use any type of pattern or design that you want. If you pattern doesn’t have clear cut edge lines, or you want a more abstract shape; draw your cut lines with marker. Do not make your edges too detailed, unless you have a way of getting into those pesky tight spots.

Once you have your design area marked out on your plate, we are almost ready to begin cutting. We will be doing our cutting with the diamond coated cutting wheel. You can find these at most hardware stores, craft shops, and big-box stores. They tend to be a bit of the expensive side, ours cost around $25 from the big blue hardware store. Attach the blade to your cutting tool, following all the precautions that are on the package for both the Dremel and the blade.

Our diamond cutting wheel attached to our Dremel.
Our diamond cutting wheel attached to our Dremel.

Do not go cutting just yet. There are some safety things we need to cover first. We don’t need people losing fingers, eyes, or other body parts.

First, ALWAYS wear eye protection when using any sort of cutting tool! We can not ever emphasize this one too much. There are so many small bits that go flying when you are cutting into things. All it takes is one small bit to hit you in the eye…and well…aside from not being fun and being very painful, when it is so easy to avoid permanent injury…just do it!

You will need to wear a breathing mask when doing this. You do not need anything too fancy. The cheap little paper kind will work just fine. The main reason for the mask is to keep the ceramic dust from being breathed in.

The last bit of safety equipment you will need is gloves. You will want a pair that gives you some heat protection, as things tend to heat up while you are making these earrings. You will also want them to help protect your fingers from cuts, as the edges can be quite sharp when you first cut your pieces out. We like to use woven neoprene work gloves when doing these sorts of things. They cost a bit more, but they are reusable, have a good grip, and you get to keep your full range of motion with them on.

OK…now that we have the first round of safety stuff out of the way…let’s get to cutting.

With your diamond cutting wheel secured in your Dremel, turn it on and let it get up to speed. Our Dremel has 6 different speed settings, for this we go with a 3. You don’t want to turn the speed up too high, or you will risk breaking your blade.

Start cutting your plate on the outer edge near your cut lines. This is where having patience is key, as you will have to cut slowly. If you go too fast, you will start too see smoke. If this happens, either turn down the speed on your Dremel, or just slow down and try not to cut so deep all at once. Keep cutting until you get one whole drawn out piece of design cut out from the plate. Caution: Once you cut the piece out, it (and the cutting wheel) will be very hot! Let everything cool down before trying to move on to the next step.

It will take a bit to do all the cutting, even for a single piece. So feel free to stop and take breaks if you want. There is no rush here. There is also no real short cuts to be taken. In the picture below, you can see how I tried to cut a a piece around part of the edge of the plate. There is a clear circular line on the top piece. That was not cut all the way through. We thought it would be weaker than the rest of the plate. So we turned the plate over, and tapped it with a hammer. The smaller piece broke off from where it was cut, but you can more than plainly see that the plate broke right down the middle (where there were no cuts made). Oh, and the rest of the part where there was a cut…it stopped just short of laughing at us. So again, no real shortcuts here. Just time.

The plate that broke all wrong.
The plate that broke all wrong.

Once your piece has cooled, there are a few different things you can do. You can cut out the second piece now if you want, or we can start working on cleaning up the edges and thinning our pieces out. If you do not mind how thick your pieces are, you can skip all the steps until the next picture, that is when we will start to clean up the edges and break out with the polymer clay.

For those of you who would like to make your pieces thinner, you have a few different options. There is a longer and safer way, and there is a slightly faster and more dangerous way. We are going to be covering both.

First you have the longer safer way. This is the way that we recommend you do things. For this you will need to attach a grinding attachment to your Dremel. Make sure that the attachment says that it is suitable for use on ceramics. You will need to find a way to secure one of two things. Either your Dremel, or one of the pieces you cut out. I personally recommend securing the Dremel. I like to place mine in a table mounted vise. Use just enough pressure to hold the Dremel in place, but not too muc, or you will destroy the housing on the Dremel. For those of you with extra fancy tools, you can use a bench or angle grinder for this process, it’s pretty much the same thing.

With your Dremel secured, turn it on, and get the speed range up to between 3 and 4. Once your bit is up to speed, we are ready to get going. Get your safety gear on (you can read about it all again if you want, just scroll up), pick up your piece, and be sure to get a good grip on it. Making sure that you keep your fingers out of the way of the grinder, hold that back side of your piece down onto the grinding bit. You will not need to use very much pressure at all, if the bit slows down, you are pressing down too hard. Slowly move your piece around on the girding bit, and keep it moving, so you wear it away evenly. The piece will start to heat up more than longer you are grinding it, so be sure to stop and let it cool down occasionally if you feel it getting too warm on you. Even if you feel that the piece is not too hot, you will want to stop occasionally. If the piece gets just a hair too hot, it will become brittle, and you will risk cracking it.

Keep doing this until you get your piece ground down to the thickness that you would like for it to be. Having made your piece thinner, the next step actually becomes a bit easier (and it is wayyy easier than doing this last step and the next one in the reverse order).

OK, I know we promised a faster and more dangerous method. But after a bit of pondering on this matter…we are going to skip that for now.

Our first piece, before cleaning up the edges.
Our first piece, before cleaning up the edges.

Now it is time to clean up the edges on our piece. You can use your diamond cutting wheel, or your grinding wheel to do this. It is all a matter of what you feel the most comfortable using. I prefer the grinding wheel, as you get a bit more control over everything, but that’s just me; plus if you use the cutter, you will just have to use the grinder to smooth out the edges. Less part changes equals time saved.

If you are going to cut the edges, go ahead and do so, getting them close to where you would like the final shape and size of your piece to be. Now switch to your Dremel over to your grinding bit. Get your Dremel going and up to speed, then slowly grind away at all the edges, until they are the shape that you want. You may also want to run it along the edges as well, to make sure that you have no sharp corners. Nobody wants to get cut by a pair of earrings, just saying.

If you have made it this far, we are ready to play with some clay now!

Our piece after cleaning up all of the edges.
Our piece after cleaning up all of the edges.

Ready to get to the clay?! Of course you are, that means your almost done making your earrings. So here we go with the final few steps.

First take one of your eye pins. Put a few bends in it. Nothing fancy, just some bends, so that it is not straight. Make sure that your bends do not go over the edges of your piece. If the pins are a bit long, cut off the excess. Now grab that clay, grab a piece, and start working it, getting it up to temp. Once your clay is ready, turn your piece of plate face down on your work surface. Line up your eye pin so it rest nicely on the back of your piece, with the eye sticking out where you would like the top to be.

Stick your clay to the back of your piece, press it down so that it goes to the edges, and covers up the entire back of the piece, and all the spots where the pin touches the back of the plate piece. You can flip everything over, and press your piece down. This will spread the clay out, and make it thinner. Some of the clay will come out around the edges of your piece, just cut all of that excess away. Keep working the clay until it is as thin as you want it to be, making sure that your pin is still covered by the clay.

Do all of this again with the second piece. You can now take and texture the backs of your earrings. We took it one step further, and used a metallic pigment powder on the clay. The texture we got was a bit unexpected. It is what happens when you do not follow the instructions for your polymer clay. It began to bubble up while we baked it, but I liked how it ended up, so I left it just how it was (after cleaning up the edges a bit more since it expanded past the edges after we pulled it from the oven.).

Bake your earrings according to the instructions for your clay. Ours called for 275 degrees for 15 minutes. Once your piece has baked, remove from the oven, and allow them to cool completely. Once they have cooled, you can clean up any extra clay from the edges with sandpaper, then use some polymer friendly coating over the clay to give it a little extra protection, if you would like. Attach them to some French hooks or whatever style hook/post you would like yours on, and show off your newest earrings…made from an old plate!

And don’t forget to share yours with us in the comments or on social media. We would love to see your designz!

Our finished earrings!
Our finished earrings!

Let us know your thoughts!