How to Make Elk Tooth Jewelry

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By wearing jewelry made out of elk teeth, you can commemorate a majestic animal.
By wearing jewelry made out of elk teeth, you can commemorate a majestic animal. (Image: elk image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com)

Elk teeth, like many other animal tooth and bone products, have historically been used to create jewelry as a display of wealth and prowess, as they were taken from animals killed for their meat and skins. Native Americans often work elk teeth into pendants by boring a hole through the tooth's root and passing a leather string through the hole. Today, these pieces may be less symbolic, but elk teeth are still used in modern jewelry, either as simple adornment or because they represent something personal for the wearer. It's possible to make jewelry out of elk teeth by drilling holes in them, but the simplest way is to use cap- or flat-bails.

Things You'll Need

  • Elk teeth
  • Leaf bails
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Two-part epoxy
  • Cardboard
  • Toothpick
  • Rag
  • Felt
  • C-clamp
  • Split-jump rings
  • French earring hooks
  • Necklace chain

Select three elk teeth that are as flat as possible at the top. Lay out three leaf bails in your choice of metal finish. Available at jewelry supply stores, leaf bails are small pieces of metal that have a leaf shape molded on each end with a straight shank in between, about 3/8-inch long. Leaf bails fit with the naturalistic theme of elk-tooth jewelry, but other fold-over or cap-style bails can be used if desired. In general, a bail is any item that attaches to the top of a stone or charm and allows it to be strung on a chain or hung from other jewelry elements, such as earring hooks.

Wrap the tips of a pair of needle-nose pliers in masking tape. The tape will prevent the pliers from scratching the jewelry.

Squeeze an equal amount of the resin and hardener of your two-part epoxy onto a small piece of cardboard and mix the epoxy together with a toothpick. Using the toothpick, paint epoxy on the underside of both leaves on one bail. Bend the bail shank in the middle so that the glued sides come toward each other but don't touch. Slide the bail over the top of your elk's tooth and pinch it shut with the pliers. Use a rag to wipe away any epoxy that leaks out around the bails.

Fold a small piece of felt over the bail. Gently tighten a C-clamp over the felt to hold the bail in place until the epoxy dries.

Repeat the process for the other two elk's teeth and allow the epoxy to harden completely.

Open two split-jump rings with your tape-covered pliers by bending the ends gently apart at the split. Loop a ring through each of two of the bails, then add a French earring hook to each one and pinch the ring closed with pliers, taking care to maintain the ring's round shape.

Thread a necklace chain through the remaining bail to complete an elk's tooth necklace and earring set.

References

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