10 Ways to Make Upcycled Mixed-Media Jewelry and Save the Planet

Happy Earth Day! In honor of our amazing planet, it seems only fitting that we think about ways to "reduce, reuse, recycle" today, and it's easy to do–even in jewelry making! Yes, even jewelry making can be a very environmentally friendly hobby.


Antique Shoe Buckle Bracelet
by Marilyn T. Aronson

Upcycling found objects into gorgeous new little works of art jewelry is rewarding on so many levels, and mixed-media jewelry making opens the doors to a whole world of creativity with no rules. Recycled paper, plastic, rubber, glass, wood and yes, even metal–all of these things can be reworked into stylish jewelry with just a little inspiration and know-how.

On a recent post, a member asked about sharing jewelry supplies. I was so impressed by the clever and creative list of found objects for jewelry making that Jewelry Making Daily member Luv2CUSmile provided in response, I've been anxiously awaiting the right time to share with you.

1.        any old coated wire: strip it off or even use it as-is for a base to wire onto

2.        old guitar strings for stringing and the little "beads" that hold them on as spacers

3.        old game pieces: a great treasure to use as-is or alter with paint, kitchen foil, etc.

4.        marbles: check out how to get the crackle-glass effect with basic marbles and then wire-wrap them (cage them) to make your own very unique beads and focal pieces

5.        bottle caps: a bit of paint, glue, glitter, etc. to alter how you like

Captured Objects by Linda Larsen

6.        old shirts and worn out clothes of any type that can't be handed down or sold: remove all metal findings from jeans, buttons, clasps, etc. and even sometimes the design in the shirt itself; cut strips and wrap with other fibers and wire to make beads; clothes with sequins, beads, rhinestones, etc.–don't discount yard sales and thrift shops to find items at a great reduction in cost

7.        paper beads also are a big hit again and can be made so easily with recycled paper, magazines, etc.; the different glazes or varnishes used really make them look almost like glass

8.        found tools/hardware findings: as beads, focal pieces, clasps, etc.; use as-is or alter them in many ways

9.        leather/pleather from old belts, purses and straps: as a base for bracelets, chokers, etc.

10.     cereal, cracker, pasta boxes: cut unique shapes from the cardboard and then layer up with glue, tissue paper, paint, etc.; then coat with Future, Mod Podge, glaze or other sealer for a great focal piece (editor's note: tins work great too and don't require so much layering, gluing, and sealing, just a little sanding on the edges)

There's enough stuff there (and lying around just about anyone's house) to make enough jewelry for days–and imagine how far it can go when you mix all those things with your own stash of jewelry-making supplies! Besides the obvious rewards of being earth friendly, reusing stuff I have laying around the house makes me feel a little better about spending so much on metal and fancy hammers.

It's a great list, but maybe you need a little more inspiration to get you going? Here are my top picks for making mixed-media and found-object jewelry with expert jewelry artists. Click on any of them to learn more.



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