charming namibia

The reason why I call my sister-in-law “Adventure Auntie” is because she saw all this (and more) in person when she spent a semester abroad in Namibia.

While in Namibia, Adventure Auntie conducted field research with this organization and worked to save endangered rhinos. She’s certainly earned her nickname, don’t you think?

At Christmas time, Adventure Auntie put together an amazing photo slideshow using our computer. Lucky for me, she left copies of her images on our hard drive. So to celebrate her birthday earlier this month, I made her this little gift. The toughest aspect of the project was choosing the images I wanted to reproduce. They make you want to hear the story behind each one. If you click on some of the photos you will see a tiny ant with an orange background, a soccer match, a giraffe, a fish carcass lion skull (semi-gruesome but I love the color), the moon….

I made a little bag to hold the charm bracelet and necklace. The lining of the bag has a safari theme. Redhead Auntie pointed out that the bag looks like it is intended to hold a single can of beer. It is perfect for all those elegant college students, like Adventure Auntie, who require only one can of beer to get them through a Friday night. Man. Pretty soon people are going to think this is a blog designed to showcase custom beer totes.

HAPPY HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, ADVENTURE AUNTIE! Glad you liked the silly gift and thanks for your comment letting me know about my original misinterpretation of the lion’s skull. (I should have been paying better attention during the slideshow at Christmas.


Here’s the how-to for this fairly straightforward project. I purchased Shrinky Dink brand shrink plastic for ink jet printers at the craft store. Make sure to carefully follow the directions they provide. The resizing of your photos is important. In order to get charms that were the size I desired, my original images were 1.18 inches (H) x 1.78 inches (W). They say that images will shrink to three times their original size after the baking process. If you use the same brand of shrink plastic that I used, and use the same dimensions for your photos, you will get a small charm that works nicely for a bracelet. You also have to adjust the saturation of the photos–the instructions explain this crucial step. After you print the images on the shrink plastic, you must cut out the charms and use a smaller sized hole punch to punch two holes on the top of each charm. You do this so that you have a place to thread the charms when you are ready to assemble the bracelet. I made a little template and used it as a guide so that all of my charms had their holes in the same spot.

I baked the charms on a piece of corrugated cardboard (the back side of a legal pad) and sprayed them with an acrylic glaze after baking. The baking process really is the neatest thing ever, just in case you didn’t already know. The Shrinky Dink people recommended a particular brand of spray glaze in the instructions. I don’t recall what it is, but just read their notes thoroughly. They also say that you can use clear nail polish, but I’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work as well. The images, when coated with nail polish, were cloudy. With the acrylic spray, they were crystal clear.

A clever way to set up your charms before you spray them is to roll packing tape so that the sticky side is all around the outside. Stick the “tape roll” onto the bottom of a shallow cardboard box and then affix the charms to the side of the tape that is facing up. This way, the charms will stay in place when you spray them. I don’t think I am explaining this well. Here is a photo:

Let the charms dry for 24 hours. Take a piece of thin leather or hemp cord and string it through the charms. Once assembled, add clasps to finish off the bracelet. You can buy the leather or hemp (I used leather) and clasps at a craft store. I bought extra cord and clasps so that Adventure Auntie could string a single charm on a necklace. I mean, if you are going to the trouble, why not throw in a necklace too?



10 thoughts on “charming namibia

  1. I love it sooo much! When I first opened it I was a little confused about what it was and then looked closer to see all my favorite photos! You might be more disturbed to hear that your “fish carcass” is actually a lion skull…

  2. that bracelet is sooo cool!
    and actually, it is entirely possible that the world needs more blogs dedicated to the artful toting of “beverage”…:-)

  3. Awesome bracelet! Lucky sister-in-law! Maybe some people will find your blog by googling custom beer totes. I mean you know… if your blog is heading in that direction anyway. How did you make the bracelet – they look like ceramic beads?

  4. I LOVE this bracelet! And I think this is one craft I could actually do. I’m putting this up on the site formerly known as sk*rt!

  5. WOW, I just now saw that you added how you actually made my jewelery. I always thought you ordered them online, like along the calendar idea. Thanks for all the hard work, i AM a lucky sister-in-law!

  6. WOW, I just now saw that you added how you actually made my jewelery. I always thought you ordered them online, like along the calendar idea (and thought they were awesome then). Thanks for all the hard work, i AM a lucky sister-in-law!

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