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Pressed Penny Bracelet

Penny pressing machines are in all cities in the U.S. that get a lot of tourists. I know there are a bunch in Anchorage. This design works best with horizontally aligned designs like the bear on this penny that I pressed at the Alaska Zoo.


For this project you will need to know how to:
Make wrapped loops
Make a hole in the metal- I'll explain that in a minute.

Picking the right penny:
Zinc alloys started in 1982, so pennies from that year come both in copper and in zinc alloy. For that reason, I save my 1981 and older pennies specifically for use in penny pressing machines. That way it's 95% copper. In Canada, there are places that have copper slugs available to use in penny pressing machines. In the U.S. it's generally accepted that you can deface money as long as it's not done for fraudulent purposes which is why penny pressing machines are legal. After the penny is pressed, nobody is going to try to spend it.
I created a thread in Beadwork forums especially for penny trading.

You will need:
Pressed penny
22 gauge copper wire
beads- I used medium sized Czechoslovakian pressed glass cubes. If you want to oxidize it, use glass beads that don't have a finish that can be damaged by the oxidization process.
copper clasp- I made a small hook clasp using 18 gauge wire
optional: oxidizing agent- I used liver of sulfur- You can find information on using liver of sulfur in my article about Beginning Metal Stamping
Round nose pliers
Wire cutter
file (nail file is fine)
Chain nose or needle nose pliers
metal hole punch or drill

The bracelet is really easy to make.
Start by putting a hole in each side of the penny. I used a two-hole metal punch that works very well on sheet metal, pressed pennies and thick wire hammered flat. You pick what size hole you want, one side has a thick punch that's almost 2mm in diameter, the other side has a small punch. I used the small side. Insert the penny in the punch and mark the punch with tape or a Post-It note when you have the punch positioned as far from the edge as you like. Punch that side by screwing down the punch. Then do the other side, aligning it with your mark.


I worked all my wrapped links directly off the wire spool. To do that, start by stringing beads on the wire. For a bracelet that's a bit loose on me, it took 8 beads. I'd string 10 just to be sure. Make a loop with enough excess to wrap. Put the penny on the loop, finish wrapping it. Slide a bead up the wire, and make your second wrapped loop, snip it off the wire and cinch down the loop. Make your next loop and put it on the first link, wrap the loop, slide down the bead, make your second loop. Repeat on both sides, after you have 3 beads on each side, check the length and don't forget to factor in the clasp.
When it's long enough, put the clasp on one end.

Oxidize to bring out the detail in the penny and add some nice tones to the copper wraps. I used liver of sulfur, and instead of using steel wool, I brushed off the excess using a brass brush which scuffed the surface in a nice finish.

Makes a wonderful gift for friends in other states. Other things you can make for friends using pressed pennies include pendants, stitch markers and key fobs.



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