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How to Mosaic with Jewelry

First pick a theme and a major focal piece and then plan your mosaic around it. In this article I use a mosaic guitar as an example. I chose the Beatles song "Across the Universe" as inspiration. These instructions can be applied to any object: a flat wall hanging, a picture frame, a vase or mirror . . . there are many possibilities.

Across the Universe To mosaic a guitar using costume jewelry, first decide on a theme. I call this mosaic guitar Across the Universe because I think the beginning line of the song, Images of broken light , captures the essence of mosaic art.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes that call me on and on across the universe - The Beatles Combine:

Costume jewelry Mirror tile Vitreous glass tile Dichroic glass Stained glass Flat glass marbles Leather bolo Dichroic stringers Rhinestones Swarovski crystals Glass beads Note the Crab nebula (for my daughter who is a Cancer sign) and various spiral galaxies that were once brooches and pins. When I sort through a bag of discarded costume jewelry, I am always amazed at how many brooches and pins, as well as clip-on earrings, resemble spiral galaxies and other heavenly bodies.

This old guitar was broken, banged up and discarded when it came into my possession. I removed the hardware and sanded the wood, then painted the back and sides using a sea sponge (also called a silk sponge) with Ceramcoat acrylic paint, first black, then some purple, then metallic silver. I then randomly dotted with small white dots to give the illusion of a starry night.

I dug through all our stash of costume jewelry, collected over a ten-year period back in the day when you could buy a bag of mixed costume jewelry at Goodwill for $5 (now a bag sells for between $40 and $50). I looked through all our old brooches and pins and selected ones that look like space objects to me (spiral galaxies, etc.) I had some shimmery old iridescent glass bits that were part of an antique bowl. I added mirror tile, dichroic glass, and glass beads. I included some stud earrings that were one of a pair; they may be diamonds or rubies, who knows? As always, I first chose one piece as a focal point and glued it down and then start filling in around it. That was the gold tone necklace which I used in its entirety (even including the clasp). I used MAC glue.

Here are a few tips and observations when using costume jewelry in mosaic work. Use a small wire-cutting tool to nip off the pins and backings. Be careful because they pop through the air with great speed, so plan on a way to contain them before nipping and protect your eyes. One method is to put the jewelry piece, your wire cutter tool and your hand all into a large Ziplock bag, then nip.

Next, examine the back of the piece and see if it is flat or hollow. I like to fill in hollows so the piece has a flat base. To do this, I nip pieces of popsicle sticks and glue them to the back, thus creating a flat piece of tesserae.

You can nip dichroic glass just as you can ordinary stained glass (using wheeled nippers such as Lepponit). The bridge of this guitar is a dichroic glass hair clip. I had two of them, so I nipped the second one into pieces, smoothed the edges with my carborundum stone, and placed them randomly.

I bought the dichroic stringers at a fused glass shop in Austin, Helios Glass. I carefully measured the hole of the guitar and then snapped the long stringers into pieces. I lined them up and glued the ends to two pieces of popsicle stick. I waited until it was thoroughly dry before installing. I then loaded both pieces of popsicle stick with glue and carefully, at an angle, fed the strings/popsicle stick apparatus into the hole. I held it in place until I felt the glue had begun to set up, and then turned the guitar over and let the glue dry for a couple of hours. This must be handled carefully, as dichroic stringers are fragile. I will never use this method again, as a child came along and as she admired the guitar, she showed us how well she could count: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 and snap! went the sixth piece of stringer. So now the guitar needs repair. I still use dichroic stringers, but I glue them onto another background piece of glass as a support. See the Conquistador guitar that I mention below.

I discuss how I install glass beads as tuners in my hub / I used that method on this guitar, minus the chopsticks. This guitar is solid with holes drilled across for the tuners, whereas the Conquistador guitar had open slots. See the Conquistador guitar here: / you can see from the picture, this piece was challenging to grout because of the different levels of the tesserae.

I talk about grouting in my hub / When you grout a piece such as this, with the different levels, you will need to do some patting and smoothing of the grout as well as just squooshing it on and wiping it off. You can also fine-tune the finish of your grout by carefully using a cosmetic brush dipped in water.

I also talk a bit about gathering up the tesserae needed for a project. A project like this one, with a theme of outer space, opens up so many possibilities because anything goes, and junk jewelry that has no other use whatsoever will add so much to the overall mosaic. One example is a necklace of rhinestones that spells out the year 2000, probably purchased to wear one time to a New Year's Eve party, so it is outdated plus a couple of stones are missing. Nip it into several pieces and install them as stars. There's a star-shaped earring high up on the neck of this guitar; the mate went missing years ago. Old out-of-style brooches found at garage sales or flea markets become Andromeda or Ursa Major.

Go here: / to read about using old necklaces and earrings for pierced ears and curved pieces of porcelain in a fun mosaic project.

I love music and I love to mosaic. I need to create and I need to destroy (as Lucy in the Charley Brown comic says). I probably had more fun with this free-style spaced-out guitar than all the others I've done. Go to my blog to see other mosaic projects. /

How to Mosaic with Jewelry 1

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