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How to Mosaic With Jewelry

Updated on January 23, 2015
Silva Hayes profile image

Silva has a technical background and is self-taught in the art of mixed media and mosaic. Her works are scattered all over the world.

Images of broken light

which dance before me

like a million eyes

that call me on and on

across the universe

- The Beatles

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.

Mosaic guitar, vintage costume jewelry
Mosaic guitar, vintage costume jewelry | Source
Mosaic wall art, two feet in diameter, stained glass, dichroic glass, semi-precious gems, vintage costume jewelry (sold)
Mosaic wall art, two feet in diameter, stained glass, dichroic glass, semi-precious gems, vintage costume jewelry (sold) | Source

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 http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Use-Beads-as-Tuners-on-a-Mosaic-Guitar. 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: http://hubpages.com/hub/MosaicRoad.

As 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 http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Create-Mosaic-Art-A-Guide-for-Beginners. 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: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-mosaic-a-styrofoam-ball 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. http://www.mosaicroad.blogspot.com


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    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      3 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Thank you so much for the visit and comment! I love music and I love mosaic art and so I am happy to be able to combine them.

    • robertzimmerman2 profile image

      Robert Zimmerman 

      3 years ago from SE Florida, USA

      Being a musician and having at least one "wall hanger" guitar I think what you accomplished is fantastic!

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      4 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      It is so much fun. I have done five large "Outer Space" mosaics and plan to do more. It's interesting how many brooches from the sixties look so spacey - either like alien aircraft or spiral galaxies!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 

      4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      What a fun and neat idea! You created quite a work of art, and I thank you for sharing it. What a great way to use up old costume jewelry.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      I just visited the URL you placed in the comment above and I must say your work is very impressive and beautiful! Love it! Thank you Shyron for recommending this hub! And thank you Silva, for sharing photos and instructions on how to do your amazing talent.

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Thanks, Au fait. I've used vintage jewelry on many items including a brooch bridal bouquet. Brooches, pins, earrings, many old keepsakes from grandmothers, aunts and friends.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/41703578@N07/80692688...

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Very interesting and beautiful use for old jewelry. I can see your technique working well for a variety of decorative accessories. Very creative hub with clear directions. This hub was recommended to me by my dear friend Shyron, and I find it very interesting and beautiful too! Voted up and IB!

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Shyron, thank you for your kind words. I do not think the guitar would have a good sound after it was mosaiced. I could be wrong; I have never tried it. All the guitars I mosaic are wrecked; they are split or have holes in them, and I remove all the hardware before I mosaic them. It would be an interesting experiment!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Silva...OMG this is so...beautiful. Do you think my guitar would still play if I did it like this one? I know I could never do it like this one.

      Voting you Up, UABI

    • jacharless profile image

      Charles James 

      5 years ago from Between New York and London

      Oh awesome, Silva. right, am looking for a photograph of to use as the backdrop of the site. black on white if possible. The site is to be the first Independent Music Exchange market -like Nasdaq for Indie, which makes it way more fun and interesting. Drop me a not webdev[dot]charless[at]gmail if you like. Thanks!

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Yes, James, I would be interested. Tell me more about this. Interesting; I recently made a black and white mosaic sign for South Austin Music located on South Lamar in Austin, Texas. Go here to see:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/41703578@N07/68598281...

    • jacharless profile image

      Charles James 

      5 years ago from Between New York and London

      Wow! Now that is beautiful. Wondering if you might consider doing a black-white mosaic to be the logo/face of an upcoming music website called gitara.bb. {the bb is used as the double-flat note} Full site credit of course for the creation and use of image. If so, let me know. Voted up & Awesome. ~James

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      6 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Thanks, tenthingz! Your comment is much appreciated.

    • tenthingz profile image

      tenthingz 

      6 years ago from somewhere in middle America

      Beautiful guitar. Love it!

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      6 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Thank you, kravery. I love working on old guitars; it's probably my favorite thing to mosaic.

    • profile image

      kravery 

      6 years ago

      Amazing! I think that is the most beaurtiful mosaiced guitar I have seen. It gives me the impetus to take my guitar which I haven't played in 20 years and mosaic it but I doubt it will look near as good as this.

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      6 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Thanks for stopping by, Heuchera! Good luck with your art piece. Warning, it's addictive! Any questions during the process, just email me, silvahayes@gmail.com. Have fun!

    • Heuchera profile image

      Heuchera 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your work and for providing some tips. I've been wondering what to do with my pile of costume jewelry and one of my old guitars. The guitar, which is dear to me because I learned to play using it, is nearly unplayable now because of warping. It will make a fabulous art piece, though, if I can achieve only a fraction of the beauty of your pieces. You've got another follower!

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      7 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Thanks, Stained glass mosaics! I think this guitar's playing days are over. Now it just sits around and looks arty!

    • profile image

      Stained glass mosaics 

      7 years ago

      Quite a unique way to decorate a guitar that is!

      wonder how it sounds when you play it!

    • Silva Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Silva Hayes 

      7 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Thanks!

    • Product Review profile image

      Product Review 

      7 years ago

      That is a great job of mosaicing on the guitar. My wife and son like to mosaic. I just showed them the mosaic of the guitar and they said "Wow"! Rated up.

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