It's a large photo....but typical of assemblage jewelry, there is much to see. This is a brooch made from US made vintage style findings, bibs and bobs of little ornamental things I'd saved back, even some paper beads! Most of the pieces are wired to the bottom, but a few are glued on.
Assemblage jewelry is where I got my start as an artist. No matter what new technique I learn, I return to it time and time again. Back when I started doing it, over 24 years ago, we called it "collage jewelry" and to be sure, many of us who were trying it out were using old, broken jewelry, spare parts, bits of this and that.
Many of us who do it now, still are.
My story goes this way: I'd begun to pick bakelite jewelry for a collecting friend in Florida. She was very active in the arts and crafts circuit and used to sponsor crafts shows down around Daytona. One day, she sent me a box of broken things as well as a few things she had made...and said....hey kid! Why don't you try this? It's fun!
At just about the same time, I worked as housekeeper for a local businesswoman. She loved for me to bring a tray of my recent vintage finds, pick out a bauble or two. She enjoyed hearing stories about how I'd found the pieces.
One day, she returned from a business trip wearing a small brooch---an assemblage/collage piece, made of Victorian buttons. They were simply hot glued onto a plastic disc. She'd picked it up at the jewelry counter at Neiman-Marcus; she'd also paid a lot of money for it. I remarked, WOW! I could make that brooch for under 10.00!
So....she challenged me to do it, and bring the piece the next time I came. I stopped at a crafts store, got a glue gun...and well, the rest is history. She wore that brooch on her lapel until the day she passed away.
Today I would never use hot glue for this type of jewelry, and I prefer to use brass discs, blanks and crescents as backings, quality findings made in the US as much as possible. But making that brooch and playing in the box of things my friend sent me, sent me on a journey that lead me to doing what I do, today.
Assemblage/collage jewelry can be put together in a variety of ways. The easiest is to use a blank and some E6000 glue. Some feel that jewelry made with glue is not quality; I beg greatly to differ. My journey led me to make a 300 piece line of small collaged button and charm pieces, which we eventually sold to 500 store accounts. Rarely did we ever get one back that had simply fallen apart; normally if there was any failure it was the pin back finding or the clasp that had wear from use/abuse.
All of those pieces were made with E6000 glue.
You can also wire pieces on to a blank:
Some the basic wire techniques I used to make this piece are in this video:
Simple Wire Wraps,Flower Findings, Pod Charms The wire was simply wrapped around a crescent base blank, which you can find here:
Here are a pair of glam earrings I made back about 12-13 years ago with acrylic gems, bisque flowers and bits of rhinestone chain....and beads:
These are put together with simple gypsy beading techniques and then, glue. I first hung the drops on filigree, then I collaged the tops, mirrored. These are clip earrings, best for bigger earrings. Though this isn't a huge style now, I always loved this pair and kept them. Very pretty when worn!
Don't feel you have to be over the top or use glitzy materials. Here is a Steampunk composition:
The beads are polymer clay, the findings are from our Chocolate Ox section at http://www.bsueboutiques.com and of course, some old watch parts and faces...and a little bit of vintage rhinestones set in old brass mounts, just because.
This one was made with distressed rusty black findings:
The technique of assemblage jewelry is simple:
You choose a theme first, such as flowers, found items, repurposed bits, Steampunk gears, even buttons or cameos! As you like it.
First, the large pieces you've selected go on the bottom. You can glue, wire, rivet---however it works out that you want to do it. Take into account where your focal will go.
Then add your mid-sized pieces, and go for balance, flow, movement. The piece can be assymetric, like this piece is:
As you can see, the focal, the bisque rose in the floral cup, is off to the side. An assymetric design can be very pleasing.
At the end, you add little parts: tiny stones, cabs, leaves, etc. You can add dabs of color with paints or Gilder's paste, you can seal the color first before adding, or you can dab them w a bit of Jewelry Shield to seal them.
Here is a gallery of old work I did 12-14 years ago, when I was making lots of assemblage pieces. You might enjoy having a look! Design Gallery
More than that, I hope you will consider giving this type of jewelry making a try. Here are some more videos that I've done that might help you with ideas:
My You Tube Channel is full of great ideas:
Our website can be found here:
This post was originally written for the Jewelry Designers' Team at Artisan Whimsy Be sure to check out Artisan Whimsy, it is a site for the best in jewelry instruction and technique......and you can JOIN! I hope you will!