Studio Saturdays: Mixed media jewelry

Making mixed media jewelry is supremely satisfying on two levels: You can combine a number of your favorite techniques into one project, and you can wear what you’ve made. You can also design something perfectly suited to your and your wardrobe, and change it up at a moment’s notice.

I used several of my favorite mixed media techniques to make this colorful, funky Boho-inspired necklace. I created a collaged pendant, did some simple wire wrapping, and incorporated fibers and vintage findings. I now have the perfect accessory for summer!

Mixed media necklace
I used my favorite mixed-media techniques to make this necklace.

To create the pendant, I started with a Tim Holtz Idea-ology Enameled Tag, sanding the surface slightly to give it some tooth for adding the collage elements (any wood or metal pendant blank will work for this).

Sanding the surface
Sanding the metal blank gives it a rough surface, perfect for collage.

For the background I chose some dictionary text cut a little larger than the pendant. I brushed acrylic gel medium onto the pendant and pressed the paper on, molding it to the domed shape of the pendant.

Quick tip: If the paper doesn’t adhere at first, add some medium to the back side of the paper and press it in place again on the pendant, holding it for a couple of minutes and continuing to shape it.

When that was dry I sanded the excess paper off along the edge. You can also trim the edge with scissors or a craft knife.

Collaged pendant
I sanded the paper for a smooth edge.

Then I adhered my collage elements (a vintage drawing of a bird and part of an old postage stamp) with more acrylic medium.

Mixed media collage pendant
Collage elements were attached using gel medium.

Quick tip: Scan and shrink a favorite art journal page and adhere that to a pendant blank for a one-of-a-kind necklace.

After the papers dried I edged the pendant with some permanent sepia stamping ink applied with a cosmetic sponge, then sealed it with a coat of ICE Resin. I love resin for the professional look it gives jewelry—it’s perfect for filling bezels, too. If you don’t want to use resin, you can seal the pendant with a final coat of matte or glossy acrylic medium.

Quick tip: Before pouring on the resin, cover the hole at the top of the pendant with low-tack artist tape or washi tape to make sure the resin doesn’t seep into the hole.

While the resin cured I worked on the necklace. I used an antiqued brass chain, breaking up the length with some fibers. I looped two pieces of sari ribbon through a large oval link and secured the ends with a messy wire wrap, using 20-gauge Artistic Wire in Antique Brass. I twisted the fibers together until they measured about 6 inches long, looped the ends through a hole in a vintage bone button, and did another messy wire wrap. A messy wire wrap is just as it sounds—simply wrap the wire around the fibers, crisscrossing it as you go. Just make sure you tuck in the wire ends so they don’t catch on your clothes. I repeated this technique on the other part of the chain, using different colors of sari ribbon.

Messy wire wrapping
A messy wire wrap holds the ends of the fibers together.

Quick tip: Stash small scraps of fabric, paper, and fibers in a separate bin for jewelry projects. When you’re ready to make something you’ll have tons of materials to choose from.

I attached more brass chain to the top of the buttons and added a closure. One thing I love to do with necklaces is attach a small charm or button right at the closure to give the piece a little something extra. I added a small glass button.

Mixed media necklace closure
A small vintage button was added to the closure for an extra touch.

When I attached the chain to the pendant and tried it on I felt the necklace needed one more element, so I added a wire-wrapped white baroque pearl on one side. The bright white was a bit distracting, so I lightly sponged some sepia ink directly onto the pearl. Here is a close-up of the pendant after the resin cured:

ICE Resin covered pendant
The ICE Resin adds a lovely finish to the pendant.

Quick tip: If you think your piece might need an extra element or two, put it away and try it on again the next day. Fresh eyes are always the best advisors.

And here is the finished necklace:

Mixed media pendant necklace
A small pearl adds the finishing touch.

The great thing about mixed media jewelry is that you don’t have to have specialized jewelry-making skills to create something fantastic. I can’t wait to show this off—and make more mixed-media jewelry to add to my collection. This technique will work great for bracelets, too. What will you make?

Start showing your creative spirit every day by wearing your very own mixed media jewelry!

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