How-to: Make an Upcycled Magnifying Glass Necklace

D.I.Y. Magnifying Glass Necklace soldered from vintage glassRemember when I bought three vintage glass lenses from Found in Ann Arbor, thinking that they’d make awesome matching magnifying glass necklaces for me and my two girlies?

Well, they do! The necklaces themselves look lovely, and if you’ve ever had the sudden impulse, while out and about, to get a closer look at anything from the details on a flower to the pattern of a friend’s fingerprints, then you’ll know that these necklaces are actually quite useful, too.

This necklace project is a great beginner’s soldering project, as well, so if you’ve ever felt the desire to make those much more complicated microscope glass pendants or found object ornaments that need to be soldered, then you can start right here.

soldering suppliesFor the magnifying lens, any glass lens will do, whether you upcycle it from an old pair of glasses, tear apart a broken telescope to obtain it, or rescue a vintage glass lens from an antique store.

If this is your first time soldering, however, you will have to assemble a little collection of supplies. You’ll need a good-quality soldering iron. Back before soldering got really big as a craft, I tried out several hardware store brands and was frustrated by all of them, and never did get the hang of soldering until I sprung for the hot pink soldering iron from Simply Swank. That was back before every big-box craft store carried its own hot pink soldering iron, though, so you’ll have an easier time finding yours than I did.

Along with the soldering iron, you need lead-free solder, acid-free flux, copper foil tape, a heat-proof work surface, a synthetic sponge, a couple of clamps and clothespins and tweezers to hold your project as you’re working (a jeweler’s extra hand tool works best, but I personally did without it until I happened to find one at a yard sale a few years ago), and a little brush for applying the flux. It’s a lot of stuff, I know, but you only have to assemble it once, and then just store it together out of the way to set up in minutes the next time you want to solder.

NOTE: Double-check that your solder and flux are lead-free and acid-free, respectively. They’re easy to find now that soldering jewelry is commonplace, but you don’t want to use the materials used for stained glass soldering, because they’re toxic.

To set up your area, duct tape your clamp to the heat-proof work surface in a way that lets you open and close the clamp, but also will cause it to hold your glass lens hands-free while you solder. Wet the synthetic sponge and place it near your work area to wipe excess solder off of your soldering iron. Ventilate your work area by opening a nearby window or running a nearby exhaust fan. Begin to heat the soldering iron, and check that your work area is free of cords to get tangled in, flammable materials, and all kids/cats/creatures who might jump on the table or pull at cords or distract you while you’re holding a very hot tool.

Gently wash your glass lens with a mild soap and warm water, and dry it off with a soft cloth, so that it’s perfectly clean and perfectly dry.

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