Tips for Mixing Media in Jewelry Making

Jean Campbell Mixed media jewelry is a buzz term these days, but really, we all do it throughout the day:

If you’re a cook, you might put chocolate chips into your chili, letting the sweet, rich flavor meld with the salty spark of the chili-infused broth. If you garden, maybe you’ve cut a sweet potato in half and planted it near your geraniums, watching it sprout into a surprisingly rich, green foliage. And if you like to decorate, perhaps you’ve used a scarf as a table runner or a shot glass as a bud vase.

Working as a mixed-media jewelry maker is just as simple. Mixing media can be as easy as combining beadwork with wirework. Or it can be as elaborate as connecting fine and/or found objects with a torch or hammer, bezels or wire, rivets or bolts. The idea of looking at the materials and techniques we have at our fingertips and combining them in different ways is at the heart of mixed media.

mixed-media-jewelry Mixed media isn’t a new field, of course, and there are thousands of great mixed-media artists to be inspired by. Barbe Saint John, for instance. She’s a quintessential mixed-media artist who also happens to be a great jeweler. Barbe, who will be teaching at CREATE along with many other wonderful mixed-media artists, including Jess Italia Lincoln (from Vintaj), author and television host Pokey Bolton, and Cloth Paper Scissors Editor Jenn Mason, expresses her creative ideas in any way she can to achieve her vision. Take Barbe’s upcoming project for Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts issue: Steampunk Bobby Pins. Adding little doo-das to a functional hair accessory? Perfect!

Steampunk Bobby Pins by Barbe Saint John

mixed-media-jewelryMixing Your Own Media

How do artists like Barbe mix media in their jewelry? Well, Barbe takes all the skills she knows, blends them together, and comes up with something fabulous. Having a hard time envisioning this? Here are a few ideas for you to chew on:

  • Are you blinded by beads? Consider incorporating alternative materials such as watch parts, shells, badges, and chain into your bead stitches.
  • Have you tried using resin yet? Adding resin to existing bezels offers a great place for tiny collages within jewelry making. You might want to take Barbe’s Casting Call: Putting Your Resin to Work class at CREATE.
  • Know how to crochet with yarn? Why not try using thin-gauge wire instead and crochet beads into a chain-like bracelet?
  • Like to paint? Alter your beads with permanent markers, inks, and embossing powders. That’s what I did for the focal beads in Eastern Ombré Choker, a project I made for Beadwork, Feb/Mar 2009.

Discover even more ideas at CREATE, our new workshop event from the editors of Cloth Paper Scissors that celebrates artistic expression through mixed media. Instructors will inspire you to look at art materials, textiles, metals, and even recyclable materials in a new way. In-depth technique sessions will provide the how-tos for translating your vision into art.

How do you express your mixed-media flair? Please share your ideas about mixed-media beading or for that matter, any type of mixed media, on Beading Daily.

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