Name Your Necklace: A Free Mixed-Media Jewelry Lesson from Jen Cushman

Today’s guest blogger is Jen Cushman, a popular instructor and a regular contributor to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine with her Mixed-Media Metalsmith column. Check out her Resin Assemblage value pack here–it features Jen’s two DVDs (Mixed-Media Chalkboard with Cast Resin and Clay Heart with Wings Assemblage), plus ICE Resin and molding putty. Enjoy this preview of Jen’s friendly teaching style! ~Cherie

Wire necklace by Jen Cushman, author of Making Metal Jewelry; How to Stamp, Forge, Fold and Form Metal Jewelry Designs and Breaking Out of the Mold: Resin and Clay Casting for Mixed-Media Art.

A Love of Metal and Wire by Jen Cushman

Over the years I’ve learned that amazing things can come from a humble spool of wire. Dead soft wire can be manipulated with agile fingers into swirls, loops, letters, words, organic wire beads, clasps, and more. Introduce some jewelry pliers and household mandrels into your techniques and the sizes and shapes you can create increases exponentially.

When I was growing up in Phoenix, my mother would take me to the big box craft stores once a week during the too-hot months of July and August and give me $5 to spend on craft supplies. I was never allowed to go over my allowance, so I learned to study the things I wanted to make so I could find the least expensive supplies to accomplish the task. I remember spending 30 minutes or more looking at pricey craft kits, studying all the parts and pieces in detail so I could scour the aisles for smaller packages of similar items. I learned fairly young how wire attachments were common in a multitude of crafts. This forced frugality served me well when I decided to make a career as a mixed-media artist and instructor.

At one point I took a long hiatus from jewelry making as I worked in other mediums like collage, assemblage, and paper crafting. I even took two semesters of ceramics at my local community college and loved it. Oddly enough, the thread that seemed to run through my work during this time was a love of metal and wire. Whenever a piece needed that elusive something, I found myself hunting in my studio for my spools of wire.

As I’ve continued my artistic exploration into all types of wire working, the techniques I come back to again and again in my mixed-media jewelry are some of the simplest. For example, my work doesn’t feel complete without a handmade clasp. I also discovered that forged wire bales are a great way to accentuate a collaged resin bezel, bead links are one of the strongest connections of metal to metal, and freeform wire beads make my creative pulse race. ~Jen

Click here for the Resin Assemblage with Jen Cushman Value Pack, which you can only find at the Interweave Store!

How to Make Wire Jewelry: Name Your Necklace

Supplies: 16 gauge dead soft wire (can be silver, brass, bronze or copper. Copper is the softest wire and the easiest to work with as you’re learning. The brand Artistic Wire has a good selection of choices at great prices). • Round Nose pliers • Flat nose pliers • Wire snips • Hammer • Jump rings, chain and clasp (if you plan to make a necklace) • Piece of scrap paper • Sharpie marker

1. Use your Sharpie marker to draw a word on name onto your piece of paper. Make the word as big or as small as you wish to fit the project you have in mind. For example, if making a word pendant, you might wish to scale it to what’s comfortable for jewelry for you. If you’re nailing it to an assemblage, you might want it larger to take up more visual space. Tip: Use cursive lettering and be sure to add loops to the top corners if you want to make a necklace pendant of it.
2. Use your round nose jewelry pliers to make a loop at the beginning letter so you have an attachment. Use your fingers to free-form manipulate the wire with your fingers to match the word you’ve written on your piece of paper.
3. Gently hammer the wire word so the loops that are crossing each other lay a bit more flat together. This also work hardens your wire so if you are wearing it, the word stays in place and does not twist and bend too much.
4. Attach jump rings to loops at each end of the necklace using your flat nose pliers. Attach chain to jump rings, and attach these to the end of the chain on either side.
5. Attach lobster clasp to one jump ring for closure.

Bio: Jen Cushman is a natural storyteller who found mixed media art more than a decade ago and never looked back. She is drawn to the imperfect, the funky, the quirky, the artsy and the authentic: be it people or objects or art. An enthusiastic and supportive instructor, Jen teaches more than art-making techniques. She encourages others to explore their authentic, creative process to create personalized work infused with imagery and storytelling. She is also Vice President/Partner of Susan Lenart Kazmer LLC/ICE Resin. Follow her blog at


Art to Wear, Blog, Mixed-Media Jewelry


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