8 FREE Mixed-Media Jewelry Projects: How to Make Jewelry with Leather, Fabric, Paper, Glass and More
I’ve always been a mixed-media jewelry kind of girl. Call it collage, “altered art,” or even scrapbooking–it has always been my thing. I love the freedom afforded in mixed-media design. There are no rules, no limits to what you can incorporate–paper (my favorite), leather, glass, metal, ceramic/clay, resin, paint, fabric and ribbon and other fibers, old silverware and keys, found objects like pebbles and shells, and anything else you can think of. If you can glue it together or wire it on, it’s game.
It stands to reason that this willy-nilly, anything-goes idea would carry over to my jewelry designs as well. Using resin to make paper jewelry or found-object jewelry and turning old silverware into jewelry are two of my favorite mixed-media jewelry-making techniques.
In fact, that “anything goes” attitude is what makes mixed-media jewelry so special—there’s unlimited potential for surprise, for incorporating elements that you might not expect to see in jewelry. In her introduction to our newest, free eBook, 6 Free Mixed-Media Jewelry Projects: How to Make Jewelry with Leather, Fabric, Paper, Glass and More, Merle White (Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine Editor-in-Chief) writes, “Leather jewelry, paper jewelry, coin jewelry, fabric jewelry or textile jewelry, ribbon jewelry, glass tile jewelry, ceramic jewelry, and so on all include a material that is common elsewhere but not in jewelry. Add a bit of silver or a glimmering amethyst cabochon to the mix, and it simply underscores how unexpected the other medium is.”
There’s also great potential for incorporating meaningful found objects, paper ephemera, mementoes and souvenirs. With so many diverse materials coming together in something like mixed-media jewelry, it could be easy for it all to turn into a big mess–but the personality inherent in each mixed-media jewelry design is what makes it work. It doesn’t feel risky at all to say that no two pieces of mixed-media jewelry in the whole wide world are exactly alike–because each piece contains some unique treasure, some found twig or pebble or scrap, with a bit of this (paper, ribbon, pressed flowers?) and a bit of that (glass, wood, leather?), all put together in a unique way as only you could do it. That’s what makes it all so unexpected and so charming.
“The element of the unexpected that is at the heart of today’s mixed-media jewelry also makes it memorable, refreshing, and fun,” Merle writes. “Working any variety of materials into earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or rings could qualify as making mixed-media jewelry, but to most of us it suggests combining some traditional jewelry materials with some nontraditional materials as well.”
Those nontraditional materials are vital to a fun and meaningful mixed-media jewelry design. Here’s a hint: If you refer to an object as precious, beloved, favorite, whimsical, memorable, tiny, unique, rare, or prized, it’s probably a good candidate for adding personality and charm to your mixed-media jewelry creations!
In this free mixed-media jewelry eBook, you’ll find 8 FREE jewelry-making projects with complete tool and material lists and illustrated step-by-step instructions for incorporating inexpensive elements for leather jewelry, fabric jewelry, ribbon jewelry, paper jewelry, and more with designs that are affordable, whimsical and easy to make.
Using Resin for Mixed-Media Jewelry
Underwater Mermaids Resin Necklace by Stephanie Gard Buss
When Stephanie received these mermaid images from Nunn Design, she knew she wanted to make something that captured the dreamy feeling of being underwater. With a few pigments and a couple of layers of resin, she was able to create a kind of seascape in a bezel. Using these simple instructions, learn how to create a standout piece using resin.
How to Make a Scrabble Tile Pendant
Home Sweet Home Pendant by Ellene McClay
Scrabble tile pendants are a huge trend in mixed-media jewelry. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to make a Scrabble tile pendant, this project is just what you need. Also as a tip: Don’t want to buy the game Scrabble just to use one tile? Find used Scrabble tiles at thrift stores or on eBay. This necklace’s pretty little pendant features a bucolic country-home vignette made by applying collage techniques to a wooden Scrabble tile, then drilling a tiny hole in the top. To finish, hang the pendant from a delicate chain.
Leather Jewelry Making
Cool, No-Tool Bracelet by Linda Larsen
No tools were used in the creation of this supercool, one-size-fits-all bracelet! The designer simply decorated a purchased leather bracelet with charms, wire, and ribbon for a signature wrist accessory. Think outside the box when deciding what to use for your charm. Instead of a glass ring inside of a bezel, try a broken earring, a monogram, or a cluster of favorite beads. Any special items can be incorporated with the leather cord to make leather jewelry that is truly unique.
Paper Jewelry Making
Musical Note Earrings by Deryn Mentock
As a jewelry artist who also loves paint, paper and collage, Deryn has a passion for including nontraditional elements in her pieces. The challenge is sometimes figuring out how to accomplish that without compromising delicate materials, such as antique paper. These earrings are an easy project reminiscent of the shape of musical notes with the theme reflected in the paper from an antique hymnal. Try this paper jewelry-making project with other kinds of wire; copper, brass, sterling or fine silver.
Glass Tile Jewelry
Cherry Blossom Bauble by Anne Engelhardt
Glue decorative paper to one side of a small tile, add a bail, and you’ve got a signature glass tile jewelry pendant ready to be incorporated into a necklace, as shown here. The paper used in this project is washi paper, a type of Japanese decorative paper that is durable and available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and thicknesses. Find easy instructions and helpful material tips in this project for creating unique glass-tile jewelry.
Wood Jewelry Making
Rain Forest Bangle by Candie Cooper
Turn an ordinary wood bangle into something extraordinary by painting, burning, and drilling it. Even your doodling skills will be called upon as this bracelet requires colored-pencil accents! One helpful tip: a scrap piece of wood is handy for testing to see if the wood-burning tool is up to temperature or to try out different attachments. Find illustrated instructions and more helpful tips for creating unique wood jewelry in this free project!
Fabric and Beaded Earrings
Aladdin’s Lamp by Kristi Bowman-Gruel
If you like fabric jewelry, then you’ll LOVE these fabric and beaded earrings that are fun to make! You’ll love how this ribbon helps make the beads POP! As long as your beads have large enough holes to accommodate the ribbon, then these are a cinch to make. For smaller holed beads, try some thinner fibers.
Recycled Metal Pendant
My Li’l’ Red Dress by Christine Dunbar
Learn how to make a pendant the simple way with this free mixed-media jewelry pattern that includes recycled metal! This design is a great way to use found, vintage, thrift store or even beverage tins and is perfect for the beginner jewelry maker. You can cut out any design with ordinary utility scissors for a great focal piece.
Get your FREE, exclusive eBook today to discover great tips, techniques and free jewelry patterns from the experts. Working any variety of materials into earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings qualifies as making mixed-media jewelry, but—to most of us—it suggests combining some traditional jewelry materials with some nontraditional materials, as well. These 8 free projects are easy to adapt into something even more personal, more technically challenging or both.
Mixed-media jewelry making is kind of like making soup—you just gather up whatever you have and see what works well together. To me, the biggest (or only) challenge in mixed-media jewelry making is how to piece all those sometimes incongruous elements together. So many techniques can be employed as you build your mixed-media jewelry masterpieces! Beyond a great all-purpose glue, other techniques such as sewing (for fabric or leather jewelry especially), wiring and riveting can come into play for leather jewelry, paper jewelry, and more. For glass or wood jewelry, an adhesive is usually the best bet.
So, what are you waiting for? Download our newest free eBook, 6 Free Mixed-Media Jewelry Projects: How to Make Jewelry with Leather, Fabric, Paper, Glass and More, and get started making your own mixed-media jewelry creations. You can master the basics by recreating the six free projects in the eBook and then branch out on your own to create your own meaningful pieces of mixed-media jewelry using favorite materials, beloved mementoes, and unique treasures.
What’s your favorite material to incorporate into mixed-media jewelry designs? Mine is paper … or maybe shells … but also old skeleton keys and silverware … oh, and really old, worn velvet ribbon! It’s nearly impossible to narrow down favorites, but if you can, please share them in the comments below! I wonder if any of you use something in your mixed-media jewelry that I’ve never thought of using?