6 Top Tips for Making Mixed Media Jewelry

6 Top Tips for Making Mixed Media Jewelry

If you’re like me, you just know when you’ve picked up a good craft magazine. Your mind whirls with ideas. Your fingers twitch in anticipation of creating. Perhaps your heart even skips a beat or two, just like when falling in love . . . or when you find a free piece of dark chocolate on the give-away table at work. This is how I feel about Handcrafted Jewelry.

Handcrafted Jewelry, a special issue publication produced by the editors of Stringing and Beadwork, is unlike anything we’ve ever published: It features twenty-two inspiring jewelry projects that combine traditional jewelry-making techniques, such as stringing and wireworking, with crafting techniques you may have never associated with jewelry—think rubber stamping, sewing, collage, decoupage, or wood burning. If you’ve been to a bead show or searched Etsy recently, you’ll know this “cross-crafting” is the latest trend in the bead world.

To give you a taste of what’s in Handcrafted Jewelry, I’ve asked a few of the contributing designers to share some hard-earned mixed-media jewelry advice: 

Using a Dremel Tool
Candie Cooper

“I love using a Dremel tool to make jewelry. And I definitely prefer a Dremel tool with a foot control for a couple reasons: First, it allows my hands to be free instead of controlling the speed of the drill and the on/off switch.  Secondly, since different materials are punctured easier at different speeds, my foot can easily accelerate the drill bit or slow it down. I avoid wearing gloves that could get tangled up in the spinning parts.”

Paper for Decoupage
Cynthia Deis

“When making decoupage beads, I use paper specifically made for decoupage. These papers are very thin with bright, permanent designs and resemble ordinary wrapping tissue, though they are designed to be stronger when wet. The paper can tolerate the repeated brushing of glues or resins without tearing or losing color. While you can use paper napkins and wrapping tissue for decoupage, the results will not be as vibrant and the application may be more difficult.”

Pressing Flowers
Linda Larsen and Susan Lenart Kazmer

“The fastest way to press a flower is to use a Microfleur, a flower press that works in a microwave. You can also press flowers between pages of a book, though this only works with thin flowers. We’ve never had a problem with color seeping from petals, probably because the flowers we use are fully dry. Anything can be put in resin that is dry or oil-based, so the type of flower only matters if it’s a problem getting it dry. The best thing to do is experiment.”

Using a Punch Tool
Jess Italia Lincoln

“The screw-down punch is a handy little tool with a lot more power than hand-held hole punch pliers. When using one, make sure you don’t screw the punch down all the way or it will mar your metal and leave a small circle around your hole. After making a hole, unscrew the punch all the way out of the metal before removing or you will pull on the punch and weaken the tool. Believe me, you will use this tool quite frequently!”

Metal Stamping
Lisa Niven Kelly

“To use a metal design stamp, consider trying the tilt 'n' tap method: Hold the stamp firmly on the metal, tilt it very slightly to the right, and strike it with a hammer. Without moving the stamp at all, tilt it toward you slightly and strike it again. Continue tilting the stamp (about five times) and striking it, tilting in a circular motion. Finish by holding the stamp perfectly perpendicular to the metal and give it one good blow in the middle. This method ensures you will get all the outside edges of the design.”

Sandpaper Choices
Heather Wynn

“I use wet/dry sandpaper on my polymer-clay projects. I start with 400 grit to remedy any bumps or remove any fingerprints, then work up to 600, 1000, and then 2000 grits to give the polymer a matte finish. I use the same 4×4 inch piece of sandpaper to make about twenty beads or so. The only time I ever use dry sandpaper is to add texture to unbaked clay, in which case I use 180 grit.”


What's your favorite mixed media jewelry technique?  Share your own tips and ideas on the website.  And don't forget to pick up your copy of Handcrafted Jewelry. Inside you’ll find step-by-step photos and instructions for the projects pictured above and more. But beware: You WILL become motivated, restless, and maybe even short of breath after flipping through page after page of cool mixed-media jewelry projects. The only cure is to get your craft on!

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