Today dawned bright, clear, and absolutely beautiful here in Laguna Beach – perfect walking weather.  The flawless blend of sapphire water and azure sky tickled my creativity into motion as I meandered through the busy streets and warm sunshine.  When I stumbled upon a bag of small, broken coral pieces in a local boutique, a full-fledged kung fu movie erupted inside my brain an idea began to form; my idea suddenly became a miniature Bruce Lee trying to karate chop his way out of my head I had a hard time concentrating on anything else.

The creative impulse couldn’t be stopped, and I dropped everything so I could go create.  (Is that weird?  “Honey, can we go home?  I have to make a charm bracelet out of this broken coral.  Like, now. Oh well, I’ve never been entirely normal…)  Anyways, I’m very pleased with how it came out:

The thought of carrying real shells plucked from the sandy shores around my home made me giddy.  (No need to discuss this – we’ve already established my unique level of weirdness.)  In any case, I wanted to share the how-to with you!

Here’s what you’ll need:

You’ll also need wire for securing the bail around the coral (not including that in the picture was a rookie mistake, my bad).  I ended up tinkering with my charm bracelet as I went along.  Midway through I decided that my bracelet needed a pop of blue (it reminded me of Laguna), but you can tinker to your heart’s content with different styles.  The ideas are endless!

step 1: Add your clasp (or toggle, in my case) to either end of your chain.  I started out with 5 inches of chain, and the toggle adds about another inch.  I like my charm bracelets snug, but not tight.  I prefer just a little bit of dangle, but you can adjust accordingly.

step 2: Fold your chain in half to find the midway point, and mark it with a matching jump ring.

step 3: Turn your piece of broken coral into a charm by adding a bail.  There are different types of bails, and the one I used here opened so I could fit it exactly around the coral.  I used a small dab of hot glue, but don’t use too much because you don’t want it oozing out the sides when the arms of the bail are bent back around the coral.

step 4: I used my pliers to squeeze the arms of the bail around the coral as tightly as possible (be careful – to much pressure with the pliers will snap the coral!)  However, the irregular surface of the coral made it hard to fit the bail exactly, and the hot glue didn’t adhere as well as I would have liked (I’ll try E6000 glue next time – buy it here from a FABULOUS etsy seller.  I highly recommend her shop for anything jewelry related!)

In order to keep the bail on properly, I ended up using my pliers to wrap some matching 20-gauge wire around until I felt it was secure.  I’ve worn the charm for hours and hours, and I haven’t had any problems – the bail is on there nice and tight.  So, mission accomplished, I guess.  ^_-

step 5: Attach your charm onto the chain where you previously marked it.

step 6: Now onto the next charm.  I usually only mark the first charm before hand, because I like to start in the middle and ripple outward.  Random little tidbit there…  Anyways, next I turned a small starfish into a charm, which required a different kind of bail.  This bail simply opened up, and I applied a small dab of hot glue to the inside of both sides (NOTE: the hot glue worked like a champ this time, but you could also use E6000 if you had it).

step 7: Insert the starfish into the opened bail, and use the pliers to hold the bail shut for a few seconds until the glue adheres.  This will insure that any rebellious hot glue does’t burn your fingers.  I also like to pinch the top of the bail shut ever so slightly, just to insure that it stays shut.

step 8: Add a jump ring and attach your charm to your bracelet.  (Hooray, it’s starting to look really cute!!)

step 9: Mini sand dollars were made for becoming charms – they even have built in holes that are perfect for small jump rings.  Add your new sand dollar charm to the chain.

step 10: Now we’re going to start adding the filler beads (which is what I call the beads in between my “showcase” shell charms).  I really wanted to include some pearls in my charm bracelet, and I couldn’t decide between small and large, so I added both!  Slip your chosen pearls onto the flathead pin.

step 11: (I found that the second pearl kept covering up what I was trying to show in the pictures, hence why there’s only one pearl in these pictures.  But the process is still the same.)  Using your pliers, bend the wire above the pearl into an upside down “U” shape.

step 12: Decide how much wire it would take to complete a small loop, and snip the excess off with wire cutters.

step 13: A shot of the half-formed loop.  Not why this needed it’s own step…  For those of you who were having a hard time imagining what I meant when I said “snip off the excess wire,” I guess.

step 14: Squeeze the remaining bit of wire into a loop.  It should look like a circle, not a squished “U”, but oh well – you get the idea.

step 15: Add more shells, because life just ins’t complete unless you have a lot of shells.

step 16: Add your shells to your pearls and you have some pretty adorable filler beads.  My husband referred to them as “dingle berries”, which had me giggling all night. (Google it if you have no idea what I’m talking about, because there is no way I’m going to explain it on here!)

step 17: Here is where I decided that I needed a pop of blue.  I added these blue beads to more flathead pins and repeated steps 11 through 14.

step 18: Add a jump ring to your bead.  (It was late at this point, and I guess I start adding useless, obvious steps when I’m tired.)

step 19: Add your bead onto the chain.  (Don’t worry, you didn’t miss a step; the long turquoise seed beads were pretty but just a bit too much,  so I ended up taking them off.)

step 20: And there you have it!  The prettiest little seashell charm bracelet this side of the Rocky Mountains (maybe not, but a girl can dream.)

Thanks for joining me for another tutorial.  If you decide to make a sea-inspired charm bracelet, I’d love to see your creations!

I hope you guys are having as much fun as I am!  I never knew this blogging thing could be so addicting.  Stay tuned because I have an earring tutorial in the works that was inspired in large part by this bracelet, and I can’t wait to share it with you!!

See you soon!