Watercolor Paper Pendant: Creating a Flat Channel Without Wax


The Watercolor Paper Pendant that you see illustrated in the photograph floats on a cord that passes through a channel built into the piece.

A channel is a beautifully functional way to mount a pendant, and is my preferred method for making pendants wearable. The channel eliminates the need for additional hanging hardware such as jump rings or eye pins, and results in the jewelry object’s design not being altered with additional hardware attachments.

If you haven’t already done so, please watch my 3-part video series on “How to Construct the Watercolor Paper Pendant.”

During the early summer I will be releasing a new Watercolor Paper Pendant video that includes the non-wax method of channel construction that I discuss in this blog article. Many of you have requested a non-wax approach, as well as instructions for creating a flat-backed channel. This post covers both, as will my coming video.

For the past few years I have used a “lost wax process,” to create the channel. This method employs a wax string that is eventually melted out to form the channel into which the cord passes through. In this article I will discuss a new method that I recently developed for constructing the channel. This method eliminates the use of wax which can be problematic, and is very effective for creating a flat, hidden channel that passes through the piece.

Having developed the pendant’s design, the first step in building the The Watercolor Paper Pendant is to prepare the paper layers.

8 cut layers of 140 lb.,cold pressed watercolor paper

8 cut layers of 140 lb.,cold pressed watercolor paper

The photo on the right shows 8 layers of 140lb, cold pressed watercolor paper that have been cut into the shape of the final design. All layers will be glued together to form the pendant. Note how the 4 layers in the top of the photo have been cut to accommodate the channel.


Applying glue to the first layer of paper

Applying glue to the first layer of paper


Using a plastic dispenser bottle, I apply glue to the first layer of paper. After the glue has been evenly spread, I position the second, solid layer of watercolor paper.

Recommended Glue:
Lineco, Neutral pH Adhesive



With the second layer of paper in place, apply a thick layer of  glue, and spread it evenly with a brush.


On top of the two solid layers of paper that have been glued together,  position the cut layers. The gluing of the cut layers establishes the channel formation.


The channel is four paper layers thick. This thickness is necessary and permits the jewelry cord to pass through the finished piece. It is very important to remove all excess glue, and the photograph below shows me scraping excess glue from the channel.

Removing excess glue from the channel

Removing excess glue from the channel


It is very important to keep glue away from the channel!

It is very important to keep glue away from the channel!


With the four channel layers glued in place, I carefully apply glue to the top layer.

It is important to keep the channel free of glue!




Before gluing the two remaining, top, solid layers of paper that will complete the pendant, insert a length of 3/32″ Teflon Valve Packing into the channel that was created in the previous step. This cord like Teflon material is perfect for keeping the channel open when gluing the final two top solid layers of paper in place.

no_wax83/32″ Teflon Valve Packing is available at any hardware store, and packaged in 36″ lengths.





The photograph below shows the final two top layers of paper glued in place. Make sure that the Teflon extends at least 1/2″ beyond the pendant on both sides. The Teflon replaces the wax that I used in the original method to construct the channel.

Teflon extends 1/2" beyond the edge of the pendant on both sides

Teflon extends 1/2″ beyond the edge of the pendant on both sides

With all paper layers glued in place, I position the pendant on a curved surface and burnish it with a wooden dowel. Applying light pressure as I rub the entire surface with a dowel assures that the layers will be firmly glued together. This is an important step. Examine the piece carefully as you burnish it to assure that no paper layers are separating. If separation is occurring, apply extra pressure to that area until the glue grabs.


This old globe that I found in my basement is perfect for giving the pendant a slightly curved shape. I use it in forming almost all my Watercolor Paper Pendants and Earrings.

An old globe is perfect for creating a slightly curved shape

An old globe is perfect for creating a slightly curved shape

While the piece is still slightly damp, I  slide out the 3/32″ Teflon Valve Packing, and inset a  length of Round String Trimmer Line, .095″ thick. Replacing the soft Teflon Valve Packing with the stiffer Trimmer Line will enable you to keep the channel clean by repeatedly working it through the pendant during the final stages.

Trimmer Line is  available at most hardware stores or garden centers. Trimmer line is used in weed wackers.

Replace the Teflon with Trimmer Line to keep the channel clean

Replace the Teflon with Trimmer Line to keep the channel clean

The final steps are:

  • Glue the top, painted layer of paper.
  • Glue the decorative, back paper layer. For this I use banana paper.
  • Clean up the edges by filing and sanding.
  • Varnish the pendant
  • Heat in a toaster oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes to harden the varnish.
Back View: a pendant floats on its cord

Back View: a pendant with inserted bead floats on its cord

Watch my 3-part video series on “How to Construct the Watercolor Paper Pendant.”  It provides detailed, step-by-step instructions for the entire construction process. My new video demonstrating the non-wax method will be released early this summer.

One final note, when you are finished working with the Trimmer Line and Teflon Packing, soak them in water to clean off the glue, and this material can be reused in your next pendant project.

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More You Tube videos you might like:

    Watercolor Paper Pendant – Part 1
    Watercolor Paper Pendant – Part 2
    Watercolor Paper Pendant – Part 3
    Channel for Pendant – Part 1
    Channel for Pendant – Part 2
    Watercolor Paper Bracelet – Part 1
    Watercolor Paper Bracelet – Part 2

The jewelry objects that you see created in the videos and websites are original designs by Ross Barbera. These designs may be copied for your personal use only, and may not be offered for sale or exhibition without written permission from Ross Barbera.

©2013 Ross Barbera Realisticart, Inc.





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6 Responses to Watercolor Paper Pendant: Creating a Flat Channel Without Wax

  1. Caroline says:

    Bonjour / Hello
    Je suis tombé sur votre vidéo en cherchant des informations sur les perles en papier collé…J’ADORE vos bracelets. J’en suis à ma troisième création. MERCI pour les idées, les explications et la prononciation (facilement comprise par des non-anglophones. Bonne journée. CarolineI found you video while looking for a paper-rolled-bead-tutorial. I love your bracelets. I have done 3 by myself. THANKS for the ideas, explanation and the way you talk (easyly understandable by us who don’t speak english very well). Have a nice day. Caroline.

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Hello Caroline!

      I did not see the translation right away, and want to thank you very much for your kind comments. I am glad that you have enjoyed making the bracelets and hope you’ll try a few other watercolor paper projects!

      Best wishes,

  2. cynthia says:

    curious if you have researched the various available cutters that can scan a drawing and do multiple cuts – this enables you to continue using your own creativity and manually being involved but removes the manual cutting process, saving time because the cutter is able to do multiple cuts much faster and ‘cleaner’ than one can by hand…
    i am starting to use cutter and software scanning jpgs of tree leaves then using cutter to do multiple cuts of the tree leaves – then intermix with my own nature photography by printing on outer paper layer of paper napkin – and using as outer color layer to the multiple watercolor pieces layered for the base foundation, integrating your curve concept… large leaf for pendant, smaller same image leaf for ear-ring and smaller leaves in graduating size for side pieces to necklace…
    send me an email if you would like me to email you link to photos of completed pieces when done and posted to my own creative blog sharing my own mixed media pieces intermixed with nature photography and kaleidescope collection software

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Thank you, Cynthia – I will check it out! -Ross

  3. Antonio Paulo Bastos says:

    Ross varnish you use, is the basis of what? colorless, can waive the oven, the oven may be the gas? Instead of using the ink can make a deecoupage and use the same procedure in healing using the oven, you use a sealer before the varnish? Congratulations for the good work, I look one soon posssivel response.
    Antonio – Brazil – Rio

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Hi Antonio,
      The translation is difficult, so I hope I understand correctly. The varnish is a water-based polycrylic called Minwax Polycrylic. It is colorless, has low fumes, and leaves a beautiful surface. You can skip the toaster oven (I do not recommend a kitchen gas oven), but it will take more time to cure. I don’t use ink; I use watercolor paint. My students have used decoupage for these pendants with a lot of success. This technique can be very simple. Glue the images to the surface of the pendant and begin to build up the layers of varnish. Even for decoupage, I prefer the polycrylic water-based varnish, and no sealer is necessary. Thank you very much for your kind feedback! I hope you enjoy this project!

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