Jewellery as personal expression

I am a very wordy person. I love literary quotes and meaningful sentences. I love to read and I love to write.

Since my late teens I have considered tattoos on and off. I’ve always loved the idea of having something meaningful etched on my body. But I’ve always ended up deciding not to. There are a few reasons.

Some people carry tattoos beautifully, some people do not. There is only one way to find out which group I fall into and I don’t like the odds. And then there’s the dilemma that with so many beautiful words in the world, how will I find the right ones? How will I choose the expressions that mean most to me? How will I choose phrases and quotes that I will love til my death?

Then 2 years ago, my home was broken into and a bunch of jewellery stolen. In the resultant insurance claim, I got $3000 to spend at a jewellers and was excited to have a beautiful silver bangle engraved with one of my favourite sayings:


“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Dumbledore

(yes, he says this in the movie script, not the book. But the words are  extremely appropriate to the character and to the awful feeling that lingered with me after the break in).

It was a great moment, having that jewellery made. It empowered me in a time of darkness, and I was thrilled with the result.

There were several problems with this though. At $300 for the bangle, and $600 for the engraving (deep etching by an artisan engraver), such jewellery is not within my price range moving forward…this was a one off only. The bangle is also heavy and clunky to wear, and scratches easy, so is more of a ‘going out’ piece than something I can wear daily.

I love my bangle, but all the other words and expressions I love were unlikely to get a similar treatment.

Then, just recently, I stumbled across this amazing blog post by Rae Gun Ramblings, which provides instructions on making a “fave book tribute necklace” of sorts.

Oh the possibilities!

I have never been into jewellery making. Generally it always brought to mind stringing together tiny, coloured beads into fairly ugly friendship bracelets when I was 13. That is obviously not all there is to it, and there are beautiful handmade jewellery pieces out there, but I’d always preferred to buy them, rather than make them.

That is, until I discovered this perfect way to wear expressive quotes that are meaningful to me without etching them on my skin or spending hundreds of dollars!

Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings makes her tribute necklaces with three basic components:

  • A bezel/frame pendant
  • Mod Podge Dimensional Magic
  • A piece of paper with scanned words from her favourite book

In this little endeavour of mine I am learning as I go. I have had supply issues which are now resolved. I have had one very successful experiment and one complete fail (which I have since replicated and cannot for the life of me explain). Lets take a look.

Firstly, bezels are not easy to find in Australia. They are not stocked in Spotlight or Lincraft, and there are no jewellery making suppliers local to me in Newcastle (unless I am missing something?), and I haven’t had a chance to look in Sydney yet, so I was left with eBay. I managed to find one (yes, one) Australian supplier (The Daisy Diva), all the way over in Perth, and finally got my hands on 2 silver bezels for a very reasonable price. They arrive super fast too, enabling some immediate experimentation. I have since ordered 2 more from that supplier and a bunch of different types and colours from overseas suppliers that will probably take ages to get here. The only reason I ordered elsewhere was to get a variety of styles. I’d rather buy local!

Speaking of local, I was excited that despite their lack of bezels, Spotlight does stock Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. Yay!

Sorry for the poor quality....I was a bit excited to get started!

Sorry for the poor quality….I was a bit excited to get started!

Dimensional Magic is a milky looking liquid that (usually) dries clear and almost completely hard. It’s not as strong or as good as resin. Resin dries like glass, very durable. Dimensional Magic, in ideal circumstances, dries looking like glass, but if you pushed your thumb nail into it it would leave a mark. It is also water based so not completely water proof.  I’ll talk more about resin vs Dimensional Magic in a moment, but lets just say I was happy to try Dimensional Magic first as it seemed easiest, quickest, cheapest, and I wasn’t going to be devastated if it failed.

With my first two bezels, I decided on two necklaces. One would be a motivational or literary quote, the other would be a sewing themed collage. The bezels that arrived were nice and deep so I decided a collage would be fun to try.

I was expecting my quote to work beautifully and my collage to fail. It turned out the other way around haha.

This is my quote:

A quote by Hemingway, designed to inspire me to write.

So much blue! And a quote by Hemingway, designed to inspire me to write.

I’d also like to point out that this is “Take 2”.

First go, it looked like this but the DM was very thickly layered. It actually looked worse than this because you could see through the paper to the mottled pattern on the back of the bezel. Process-wise, I used PVA to glue down the paper (printed on laser jet), then put the DM over the top. When I saw all the blue streaks, I thought it might be the ink running from the printout, though my research told me that shouldn’t happen with laser jet printing. Knowing that the DM is water based, I soaked the whole bezel in boiling hot water until it cooled and was able to peel all the DM, paper and glue out…awesome! Do over! After thouroughly cleaning the bezel, I reprinted, and this time used ordinary Mod Podge to glue plain paper in, then glue my printed paper over the top, then add a sealing layer. Once that dried, on went the DM, but with pretty much the same result except the 2 layers of paper removed the transparency issue. 

What was even more confusing about this was that at the same time as my first fail, I was also working on my collage bezel, and it turned out really well!

Collage necklace, the day after completion

Collage necklace, the day after completion

For this one I Mod Podged down a piece of plain paper, then a piece of sewing pattern paper (I used sewing pattern wrapping tissue from Typo – how hipster – but you could just use an old pattern from a second hand shop: $0.50), then sealed the pattern paper with more Mod Podge. I then super glued in three buttons, a pin, and a tiny scissors charm (made of plastic). I then used the Mod Podge Dimensional Magic over all of that, doing several layers. Bubbles were an issue with both bezels. With the sewing bezel, I had to go back several times and pop bubbles that kept appearing in the button holes! I learned to pop with either a pin or toothpick, and if you get a cluster of tiny unpoppable bubbles, scoop them out with a corner of paper whilst the DM is still wet. I’ve also read that a dry paintbrush works. You can see some bad bubbles in the corner of my quote necklace, because once the blue streaks appeared I gave up popping bubbles.

Alot of people on the interweb complain of the clarity of Mod Podge waning after just a few days, and some people report cracking. After a few days I noticed a slight fogginess developed with my sewing bezel, as well as a slight rippling (see pic below), but because the collage is so ‘busy’ these flaws aren’t very obvious and I’ve had several compliments on the necklace. I think the DM is more likely to go smoky and possibly warp the thicker you layer it. My fail necklace, despite its blueness, has no smokiness or rippling or cracks whatsoever. With all of this in mind, I think my collage would work far better with resin, but the DM would be great with just one thin layer, over paper, for my quote necklaces….if we can resolve the blue issue.

Collage necklace after a few days: less clarity and some rippling, but I'm still in love

Collage necklace after a few days: less clarity and some rippling, but I’m still in love

The internet yielded a few hits on the blue streaks. Most people have it happen when they do a collage type necklace and use metal items within their collage. It seems to be a reaction thing. I think what has happened with my necklace has been a reaction with the actual bezel. I may have gotten a dud bezel, but I think more likely I just should have washed and prepped it properly, and once the blue streaks got on there it was going to happen over and over again. I tried to get all the blue out after I cleaned out my first fail, but obviously didn’t.

The only way I am going to find out now is more experimentation with new bezels, all of which are yet to arrive in the post….waah! But I have had some great fun experimenting, have at least one great piece to show for it, and am looking forward to more fun!

Finally, returning to the resin vs Mod Podge DM discussion, my research tells me resin is clearly the superior product. But as a beginner, I wanted to start out with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic and now have a whole bottle to experiment with before I graduate to trying resin. Resin is apparently quite hard to get the hang of!

And PS, I found another super cute way to express myself through jewellery!

Cute as a hoop!

Cute as a hoop!

I got this embroidery hoop necklace pendant by dandelyne  from The Haby Goddess, and had my first go at embroidery…how adorable! 🙂


4 thoughts on “Jewellery as personal expression

  1. Pingback: Success! | Cotton Handy

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