Trendy DIY: The Agate Necklace

Here’s a little-known fact about me: I love rocks. I’m not talking about diamonds. I’m talking rocks, minerals, stones…well, and gemstones, too. One of my most prized possessions is a wooden board I made when I was 3. After a trip to the river, I glued a hodgepodge of river rocks to it. One of these is my “gut” rock that resembles what my 3-year-old mind assumed chicken guts looked like. It ranks right up there with my wedding ring in importance! This fascination probably explains my love of all the currently-trendy mineral and stone jewelry.

I’ve been looking for the perfect agate or geode statement necklace. The problem is that while I love the look of these natural stones, I don’t like the fussiness that some designers incorporate. These are stand-alone materials. Why muck it up with charms and feathers? Of course when I do find one I love, it’s more than I can (or want to spend). The whole DIY movement of late has really been good for me, which is how I arrived at this uber-simple project. I’ve been working hard to hone my jewelry-making skills, but on a scale of easy to difficult, this is beyond easy.

I really liked this agate style from Vanessa Mooney but between the $150 price tag and the ‘out of stock’ status, it really wasn’t a good option.

Vanessa Mooney Shelby Necklace

Once I really started looking at what I liked about this style, it dawned on me that it would be simple to assemble. Asymmetrical agate placement, bold chain…easy peasy. One trip to J0-Ann and $10.80 later, it was all but finished. Seriously…this is an assembly project. It’s practically made for you right out of the craft store.

Agates and geodes are readily available at Jo-Ann and Michael’s. This strand of natural purple agates from Jo-Ann was $12.99 for six (and are an additional 30% off this week). Because they are natural, no two strands are alike. I went through the blue, purple and natural colors and found the strand that offered the best shape and color for my taste. If you look closely, the strand is connected with heavy-weight jump rings. They are so sturdy (and fit the drilled stones so perfectly) that I used those in the assembly of the necklace.

Purple agates from Jo-Ann

From there, it was as simple as choosing a chain. I liked the idea of something substantial for this but go as dainty as you’d like. My chain was $3.99 (and 25% off this week). I also picked up a bar toggle clasp (about $2) and some assorted silver jump rings (about $1.50).

Using two needle-nose pliers, I separated the jump rings on the agate I liked most and removed it from the chain of stones. Just by eyeballing it while draping the chain around my neck, I chose the length of the necklace and the placement of the agate. This was not precise by any means. Using both pliers again, I opened up links in the chain to attach the agate. This particular chain is so heavy that it was tough opening the links. I had enough chain to spare so I didn’t do it carefully and just allowed myself to ruin the link as I pried it open. The jump rings on the agate were already open, so I just affixed the stone to the chain this way. See below…

Once the agate was attached, I went back to the mirror to eyeball where I wanted the clasp. Again, I didn’t do any measuring. Once I determined how I wanted the agate to hang and how long I wanted the necklace to be, I wrestled the links again to remove extras. From there, it was as easy as affixing a jump ring to each end link and adding each piece of the toggle bar clasp.

From start to finish, this took 30 minutes. Most of the work went into separating the chain links. The richness of the stone doesn’t seem to display well in pictures (or maybe it’s my less-than-stellar photography equipment). I’m quite happy with the project and had tons of compliments from complete strangers when I wore it out.

If you’re inspired to create your own agate jewelry after this, please share a photo! And if you have questions, let me know.

Revealing the Newly-Painted Furniture a la Pottery Barn

I mentioned last week that I was sick and tired of my Colonial style bedroom furniture. I’m not exactly sure how it was ever my style, but we all make some questionable choices in our twenties, don’t we? Despite my dislike, it really is quite nice. We had the forethought to buy the best we could afford, which meant all-wood Broyhill. Knowing it wasn’t in the budget to buy new furniture right now, I began looking for ways to change what we have. After seeing several different “Creating Pottery Barn Black” tutorials on Pinterest, I thought it was worth a shot to paint the pieces. The goal was to start small (the nightstand) and move on from there. It would be easier to cover a ruined nightstand than an oversize-style chest of drawers. (The blog entry that most heavily guided me was from Just A Girl blog.)

It was a…success! I chose what I deemed the best tips of all the tutorials and went from there to create my own. Best of all, we didn’t have to sand anything (well, a single spot on the top of the nightstand). I thought I would share our results and my own tips. I will give you fair warning that I don’t have a great camera. Everything I shoot comes from an iPhone 3GS. Forgive the poor picture quality.

Nightstand Before

Nightstand After

Chest of Drawers After

Dresser After

If you’re interested, I’m happy to share information on what we (Eddie and I) used. First, we chose to use only foam rollers (Whizz High Density from Lowe’s) to apply everything, from primer to paint. No brushstrokes! Our primer was Zinsser Cover Stain Primer in white, and we used about 1 1/2 quarts. For paint, we chose Benjamin Moore Low Lustre Finish Acrylic Exterior Latex Paint in 213 Black (about 1 1/2 quarts).

From there, we literally just applied product to the wood. It took two coats of primer per piece (don’t forget, we didn’t sand). It also took about two coats of the paint; we touched up some spots with a third coat.

The most expensive addition was the hardware. With a military discount, we wound up spending $140 on drawer knobs alone. I, personally, think it was worth it, though. And while we’re talking money, I’ll just add that the entire project (not counting labor since it was a DIY project) came in at around $200. Not a bad return on the investment, in my opinion.

As you can see, it isn’t all styled yet. We’re planning to change the bedding and curtains, and we’ll add some decor (and clean off my jewelry box) before it’s all said and done. I’m quite happy with it all, though! I hope this inspires someone to try it.

Sometimes it’s the Little Things…Conversation Hearts

As my grandparents used to say, I have some irons in the fire right now. I am sick of my bedroom furniture but really can’t afford to replace it with anything of excellent quality (and at this point in my life, I want quality). A Pinterest pin inspired me to paint it a la Pottery Barn satin black. It’s looking excellent, and I am going to share the tutorial, pictures and outcome soon. It’s not ready for its debut right now. Until then, or until I am able to wax poetic, I wanted to share an extremely simple holiday decor idea. And, yes, I did find it on Pinterest.

Check out my conversation hearts centerpiece. I found the candle holder on clearance at Target a few months ago. I had no idea what I’d do with it but thought it had great potential. At Christmas I added the candle and some Epsom Salts “snow.” For Valentine’s Day, it’s Conversation Hearts. I have to admit that the candy is dwindling because Zoey actually loves the hearts. I have a hard time keeping her hot little hands out of it. But, you know, it’s hard to deny a clever 3-year-old when she makes an iron-clad case for why she deserves a treat. I do have to admit that I am a little grossed out by the “UR Hot” ones. Seriously, who says that outside of a dive bar?

I’ll warn you, I’m a Pinterest-a-holic (at least early in the morning and late, late at night). If you’d like to follow me, find me under CourtneyStrimel.