Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 14, 2013

DIY Penny Ring + How to Clean Copper with Baking Soda and Vinegar

I mentioned Friday that when I broke my first $20.00 back on Canadian soil (for a $1.13 purchase at Value Village, I thought the cashier was going to wring my neck), I found a 1950 Canadian penny in my change.  I was sitting at my desk fiddling with it, when I thought it might be the same size as some ring shanks I bought in Budapest, for a different project.  I plonked the penny into one and, wouldn't you know, it got stuck!  Don't worry, we managed to coax it out so I could start fresh and make an easy-peasy penny ring.

Although I love patina as much as the next person, my penny was really grey and mucky.  Its "patina" largely came from 60+ years of dirty, unwashed hands fondling it.  I hesitated cleaning it, because I knew I couldn't bring the patina back if I didn't like the results, but then I gave my head a shake.  It's a friggin penny.  Why do I take these things so seriously?

Here it is, pre-clean (it photographed much prettier than it was in real life):

How to clean a copper penny

  • Penny
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Baking Soda
  • Paper Towel
  • LePage Gel Epoxy
  • Ring shank (base)

Cleaning my penny:

I grabbed a bowl of vinegar (maybe half a cup) and poured a couple teaspoons of salt in it for the penny bath.  I dropped in the penny and within seconds it already looked brighter.  About five minutes resulted in a shinier penny.  

Next I created a baking soda paste with a couple tablespoons of baking powder and a few drops of water.  Using the corner of a piece of paper towel, I rubbed the penny with the paste.  Even brighter!

How to clean copper

Assembling the ring:

My ring shank looks like this:

You can find similar ones at craft stores or online.  Etsy and Amazon both have a good selection; just measure your coin and search by diameter.  You can also use a plain ring shank without the setting (like these). 

I mixed up and applied a dab of my favorite fast drying epoxy (it sets in five minutes and has a rock hard hold) to the ring shank and gently pressed the penny in.  I made sure not to apply an excess of epoxy, because I didn't want it to squish out the sizes.

This DIY was so simple, it feels like cheating.

My penny ring is unadorned just because my penny was nifty.  Take a peek at Friday's post for some ideas for other projects, including bedazzled penny rings.

P.S. before you make something, see if your Canadian penny is worth anything here (and here's a rough guide for American pennies).


  1. that is super cute!
    it reminded me... when I was little my grandmother would set up all these "science" projects for us (she's retired kindergarten teacher). one of them was to clean all her pennies with ketchup. we were FASCINATED by it, and there she was just having us clean all her change! LOL.

    1. That is such a sweet story! But SO much fun for kids. I was actually giddy watching the penny magically get clean and said to Hubby what a fabulous project it would be for kids in school: clean a penny and make something neat with it. Kids could learn about metals, chemistry, and it would be arts and crafts.

  2. I love it. It's such a great way to mark a special year.

    1. I wish 1950 meant something to me, but I just loved how old and nifty it was. Even the text on the other side looked very retro.

  3. So super cute!!
    What a lucky penny!!!

    Did you know I used to manage Value Village here in the states...good times!!

    1. I didn't know that about you!! You must have gotten a first look at some pretty sweet finds over the years . . . so jealous :)

    2. Yep it was a wonderful job. I even met my hubby there. His best friend was my boss. My apartment was filled with all my finds. Oh the village so many memories!

    3. Awww, that's so sweet you met your hubby there!! Sounds like it was an amazing (and life changing!) experience.

  4. very pretty!! your clutch is very cute too

    1. Thanks Chelsea. I have saved this purse for "good" forever (at least 7 years) but I am finally letting it see the light of day!

  5. How pretty! I never would have thought to make the penny into jewellery but it looks so cool :) Love the purse too!
    On a side note - I'm actually having a giveaway this week where you can enter penny projects to win a value village gift certificate - saw your post by chance and thought you might be interested!

    1. Thanks!! Your giveaway sounds like so much fun, I can't wait to check it out!

  6. It looks so simple, yet unique and beautiful at the same time. Awesome!


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