Goodbye February! Everything's Coming Up (Mixed-Media) Rosesand Poppies, and Daisies, and

Do you find yourself returning to one motif over and over in your jewelry making? For me, it's flowers and stacking about three flower or flower-like components, which I usually make into rings. Whenever I'm in a bead store or at a trade show, I always find myself picking up one or a few flowery mixed-media jewelry components (made of leather, felt, metal, paper, enamel, glass, or some fun mixed-media combination) info flowers. More often than not, I then lay them on my hand to test-drive them as a ring. My conclusion is always the same: I need more fingers to wear all these pretty rings.

I'm making more flowers than ever now, in these last days of rainy, dreary, cold and wet February. Down here in Louisiana, spring has already sprung a bit, thanks to a milder-than-usual "winter." The camellias are still blooming, but the pear trees and azaleas are, too, and little yellow weedy things are blooming all over my yard. Though spring is still officially nearly a month away, I'm ready for flower time!

One of the reasons I love making mixed-media flower jewelry is surely because it's so easy. You can make a whole basketful of posies in an hour or so! Just stack up three of any flowers or other organic shapes (even simple discs that have been domed can look like poppy petals, rosettes, or minimalist flowers), put a glass- or crystal-topped headpin in the center, and you have a pretty flower.

I especially love to mix flowers made of differing materials and in different shapes. When I saw the Feltys (cute felt and yarn ruffled pieces) in Paula Best's Uncommon Beads at To Bead True Blue in Tucson, and then saw Eleanore Macnish's dotty bright-colored Ellie Mac lampwork glass-topped headpins in the next booth, serendipity struck. I stacked up three on the spot, curved the headpin's stem into a ring band, and voila! I had an instant whimsical "flower" ring. (Bonus: The headpin's wire was just long enough to make a ring with a loop to secure it at the top, and since it is made on such a strong wire, it's plenty strong enough as a single-layer band without extra wire.)

One of my favorite things about mixed-media jewelry is that anything goes: leather, paper, glass, fibers and fabric, found bits and pieces–all of that, along with some metal, or skip the metal–up to you. Mixed-media jewelry making is like the collage or scrapbooking of the jewelry world, and those other genres give us crossover-crafter jewelry makers all kinds of uncommon pieces and mixed-media jewelry supplies to play with. I pulled a bunch of fabric, leather, organza, and paper posies from a box of fabric flowers on my paper craft table and stacked them with decorative scrapbooking brads, decorative headpins, or crystal flatbacks to make layered flowers. They were perfect for decorating this mixed-media Boho-style cuff bracelet. I simply built the flowers as complete stand-alone pieces and then adhered them to the cuff using two-part epoxy adhesive.

You could punch holes in the leather and secure the flowers to it with their brad centers, but then you'd have to deal with covering the backs of the brads on the back of the leather to make it comfy to wear. I know glue is pretty low-tech, especially in the jewelry world, but it seemed like the right thing in this case. You could do the same thing with metal flowers, maybe some that you enameled (you know I love enameling!), but you'd have to use some cold connections like wire, brads, or rivets to secure metal flowers to leather. I wouldn't recommend adhesive in this case.

Earrings are another pretty way to stack flowers into pretty mixed-media jewels. Where others sees bead caps, I see delicate-looking blossoms for dangling earrings, reminding me of bell-shaped, downcast flowers like columbine, lily of the valley, foxglove, and snowbells. They're perfect for spring earrings, with a few pretty gemstone, crystal, or glass beads and some pretty little ribbon snippets hanging from their centers.

Something about flower jewelry and brooches just seems to match. When I "test drive" the stacked flower pieces on my hand as rings, like I mentioned above, the ones that just seem too large or potentially fragile for rings inevitably become brooches. And they couldn't be easier to make–just stack up a bunch, gluing each layer to the next or securing them all together with brads or headpins, and then attach a pin back with glue. If your back layer is fabric, you could change the plan a bit and sew the pin back onto the back of that flower for a base; then stack and glue the rest of the flower layers onto that base. Perfectly pretty, and so quick and easy. Pin one or a few to a cute cardigan, tee, hat, or purse…or go overboard in a fun way and string together a bunch on a pretty ribbon, cord, or chain for a beautiful spring-y necklace.

Jess Italia Lincoln's Polka Dot Flower ring from Handcrafted Jewelry 2010

I love the mix of "high and low" in these flowers, or soft and hard, a variety of textures, sparkly and not, tough leather and airy organza. That's the beautiful thing about mixed-media jewelry, and because there's so much variety in each piece, they seem to go with everything. If you love mixing leather, paper, fabric, glass, fibers, and other mixed-media jewelry supplies in your jewelry creations, you'll enjoy Handcrafted Jewelry magazine. If you haven't seen it yet, you can get the timeless Handcrafted Jewelry 2010 issue for only $3 during our back-issue sale! That's less than what you could pay for one project. What a deal! Plus I know there are some flowers in it…

dotted lampwork glass headpins: Ellie Mac Beads and Sylvie Lansdowne Beads
leather snap-closure cuff bracelet: Fusion Beads
"Felty" felt and yarn ruffled bead: Uncommon Beads by Paula Best
decorative enamel head pins: Jennifer Fahnestock
vintage four-petal copper flowers: Jennifer Osner
vintage pressed-metal flowers: Echo Artworks
etched mother-of-pearl discs: LillyPilly Designs
brass metal flowers (that I enameled): Nunn Design
fabric, leather, and paper flowers, scrapbooking brads: vintage Making Memories

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