Personal meaning

Necklaces “wearable art” with personal meaning

One of the reasons people love to make their own Christmas presents is for the personal touch.

The “wearable art” necklaces by artist Martinez Joy Broom take the idea of ​​giving meaningful gifts in an interesting direction. Her necklaces are made from sturdy round paper strings that are decorated on either side with the maker’s own designs or cutouts from old photos, souvenirs or books of sentimental value.

Broom’s necklaces are an extension of the art she has created over the past 30 years. She enjoys deconstructing and rearranging old family photos, personal artefacts, historical curiosities and scientific objects into extravagant paintings, drawings and dioramas. Broom’s goal is to breathe new life into these objects while honoring the past.

A sewing machine is the only special equipment required to make the necklaces, says the retired instructor from Diablo Valley College.

“People can use papers from old photos or old scrapbooks,” says Broom, speaking from his art-filled home studio. “I like to use the pages of an old dictionary, but people can use anything they want.”

MARTINEZ, CA – OCTOBER 15: Artist Joy Broom poses for a photo with her necklace she made in her studio in Martinez, Calif. On Friday October 15, 2020. Broom makes her necklaces with paper discs, decorated with drawings or pieces of newspapers, old books or photos. (Ray Chavez / Bay Area News Group)

Wearable art


¾ to 1 inch circle pattern, like the lid of a bottle or small jar

White gel pens, fine point

Black card stock or solid pages from a black photo album (no construction paper)

Old photos, book or dictionary pages, scrapbooking papers, etc.

Glue stick

Mod Podge Matte Sealer


Black marker

Masking or painter’s tape

Black wire


Using the circle template and a white gel pen, trace 26 or more turns on the black card stock or photo album paper.

Use the white gel pen to fill in the circles with your own designs. Or decorate them with circular cutouts from photos, book pages, or other paper memorabilia, using a glue stick to secure the cutouts.

Apply a thick coat of Matte Mod Podge to the decorated circles to provide a protective sealer.

Once the Mod Podge is dry, carefully cut the circles. Match two circles and glue them together, with the decorated sides visible. Touch up the outer edges with a black marker. Repeat with the rest of the rounds.

Tear off a length of masking tape 28 inches or longer. Rub the sticky side of your pants to reduce their grip. The tape will be used to hold the circles in place as you sew them together

Lay the ribbon flat, with the sticky side up. Keep the tape taut as you place the rounds – evenly and touching edge to edge – on the top half of the masking tape. Fold the bottom of the masking tape about ¼ inch to secure the bottom of the rounds for the seam.

Using black thread and a sewing machine, slowly sew a line down the center of the rounds from top to bottom. Finish by sewing the top and bottom circles together along this center line to form a collar.

Carefully and slowly peel off the masking tape, so as not to tear the decoration. Finish the collar by running another layer of Mod Podge along the seams on each side of the circles.

– Joy Broom

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