Collage jewelry is one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways to begin your personal journey into jewelry making.
Over the years alot of people have written to me to ask if there is a book on collage designers, or printed information on how they might begin making collaged jewelry.
I like the one by Lark Books (Fabulous Jewelry from Found Objects, Sterling Publishing) because before it shows you projects, it also discusses several easy jewelry making techniques in ways that are not difficult even for novices to understand. I also was priviledged to design a project for the book, and a few months ago I sold my project piece photographed for the book to a collector---guess where!!!---on Ebay!
Besides the volume just mentioned, I'm noting there are several others appearing on the bookstore shelves. They are all a fun read and may give you some great ideas.
Most of my perspective in jewelry making comes from 'coffee table' books of collections of vintage and historical jewelry. (I started out in the jewelry business as a seller of vintage jewelry, and I love old jewelry, so that's logical.) There are no instructions in the vintage jewelry books, of course, but the pictures are quite inspirational and I refer to them over and over again. A picture is worth a thousand words!
I can recommend "Popular Jewelry 1840-1940" by Roseanne Ettinger as well as "The Jewels of Miriam Haskell" by Deanna Farneti Cera as two of my all-time favorites. "Miriam Haskell Jewelry" by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff is a also must-have, in my opinion. Again, you may find copies for sale on Ebay.
Collage can be achieved by beading onto wire and threading and pulling through filigree, reminiscent of sewing; it can also be achieved by gluing objects onto a base. Beginners will probably want to begin with glue as there is quicker success.
The glues I recommend are:
E-6OOO this one is most durable, but it is toxic. You must use it with ventilation. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. Do NOT!!! let children use this glue. Let your pieces gas off before wearing. Don't let me scare you away from this glue, honestly I have never found anything that worked as well. Just clean up well, follow the directions and don't eat while you use it---be respectful of the product and you will be just fine, notwithstanding you will create a viable product.
CRAFTER'S PICK NON-TOXIC SUPERGLUE, comes out white, dries clear. It is not as durable as the first two but is quite strong, the strongest non-toxic glue available. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. This is best for those with limited ventilation in their workspaces, also for children's projects and those who may have allergies.
IF you are setting rhinestones into your collage and the rhinestones are foil-backed, then you will want to use *hypotube cement* to set them, as E6000 may eat the foil or damage it, in time, and Crafter's Pick may cloud it.
When using glue, generally less is more and again-----do follow manufacturer's directions.
DO NOT EVER USE HOT GLUE. Yes, it's non-toxic and it works fast but IT DOES NOT HOLD UP. Jewelry made with hotglue is a substandard product. It is not durable, just don't go there, do not use it to make jewelry (unless you are making PAPER collage jewelry, then you would be okay.)
To make a brooch:
Select the items you would like to have in your brooch. Some ideas may be:
rhinestones and rhinestone findings
debris found on a walk (yes I have made jewelry from things I've
found along the road!)
Select a base. This could be a large coin, a brass backing such as I sell, a big button...anything durable that you can glue to.
Now begin to arrange the things you want to put in your brooch. Don't glue them at first. Start with the biggest things on the bottom. Then imagine what would come next, usually the med-sized things. Tiny things go on top, like icing on a cake! After you think you know where you are going with your project, you can start gluing. Glue the big things first, then work up from there.
When you are arranging, think flow, movement, form. This will prevent you from creating a big ugly blob. Think as you go. Don't just glue in what fits in a crack. Keep thinking....does this really belong here?
After you are satisfied, let your project dry, or cure, for 24 hours.
At this point you are ready to decide if you will seal it or not. All raw brass should be sealed, or it will oxidize. You can seal with spray lacquer from the hardware store, non toxic jewelry glaze from the crafts store or my special lacquer, which is regrettably toxic but also nonplussed, in my opinion, nothing better.
If your collage is primarily of glass or rhinestone, DO NOT SEAL. It isn't necessary. If it is of old buttons, porcelain objects that are unglazed, old junk, found items, brass filagree and charms, etc, you will probably want to seal it.
After you seal the piece, let it dry another 8-12 hours, then add a pinback by gluing the finding on the back. This too should cure for at least 8 hours and better 12-24.
If you have used lacquer on the brooch, you will want to allow it to gas off for a few days before wearing.
FINALLY....NOW you can wear and display your creation!
The more you work at collage, the more sophisticated you will become. Don't stop with a brooch. How about a collar necklace? Earrings? Maybe a cuff bracelet? What FUN you will have. There is nothing more enjoyable than working a new jewelry project.
REMEMBER: THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG in collage. YOU HAVE TO PLEASE YOURSELF. Challenge yourself each time you try it, to think harder, and more artisticly.