Two of Anything = Earrings
Tape Transfer Jewelry

Jigsaw Puzzle Pin

This guest post is from Liz Curtin.  She is going to show you how to transform ordinary looking puzzle pieces into little works of wearable art!  Perfect for gift giving or decking yourself out for a holiday party!

Hi. My name is Liz Curtin and I am so honored to be guest posting on Julie’s fabulous blog. I teach a lot and get to make cool class samples as part of my job. This tutorial came from one such class. It’s a quick and easy project that anyone can do and it’s great as a last minute gift. Every time I wear one I get tons of compliments.

Before I take you through the steps to make a pin I thought I’d show you a few samples.
DSCN7783 (Five jigsaw puzzle pins.)

Two large puzzle pieces were used for this pin. That’s an old fabric covered button glued in the center. I used the fabric that fell off in another pin that you’ll see later.               

Three large interlocked puzzle pieces were used for this pin. A metal dragonfly and copper washers were wired on. A gem was glued in place.

Large beads were wired on to this pin made from two large puzzle pieces and one small piece.

 Now on to making a pin...!

The supplies you’ll need are simple.

  • Any jigsaw puzzle, either with regular size pieces or oversize pieces. You can mix sizes in the pin or just use one size. I love the oversize pieces. Both sizes can be found in the children’s toy section of stores. I got mine at Rainbow. You may also find broken jigsaw puzzle sets in thrift shops. The more interesting the puzzle pattern the more interesting your pin will be.
  • stamp and ink
  • a piece of light to medium weight cardboard for the backing (I used a cereal box)
  • Tacky Glue or Elmer’s glue (I prefer Tacky Glue because it grabs and holds fast)
  • Epoxy
  • a pin back (glue on or self sticking)
  • lightweight colored wire (20 – 26 gauge)
  • beads, buttons, charms or jewels
  • pen
  • scissors
  • toothpick
  • wire cutters
  • Optional: you can also use a permanent marker to color the edges of each puzzle piece, if desired.

Sort through the puzzle box and pick out patterns and colors that appeal to you. For a pin made with the large puzzle pieces you’ll probably use 2 – 5 pieces and with the small puzzle pieces you’ll use between 4 – 7 pieces.
Once you have selected the pieces for your pin, lay them out in a pleasing fashion. 

Pieces can be all on one level or can be layered. It depends on the look you are going for.  The important thing to remember is that you want the pin to be stable. You don’t want the pieces to rock or break apart or the pin to be so large that it will fall apart. The cardboard backing will give your pin stability but it helps if the pin pieces are stable to begin with. One way of stabilizing the pieces is to interlock them, though they don’t have to be the exact pieces you would use if you were putting the puzzle together.

For our project today I chose two pieces for the base that don’t interlock so they have to be stabilized with a cardboard backing.

I chose plain yellow pieces that I then stamped with a red ink and a rubber stamp. Be sure to let your ink dry thoroughly before handling.  Because of the shiny surface of the puzzle pieces it's best to use a solvent ink like StazOn or Ranger Archival Ink.

Lay the decorated base pieces on a small piece of cardboard and make tic marks for the approximate shape of the backing. You don’t want the cardboard to stick out beyond the puzzle pieces' indented shapes.                    

Cut out the backing shape and trim down if necessary. Trim to fit and curve the edges if necessary. The important thing is for the backing piece to span all the puzzle pieces so that it stabilizes the whole pin.

Now it’s time to glue your backing to the puzzle pieces. I like to spread the glue on the cardboard backing only. That way you’re not getting glue on the back of the puzzle where it doesn’t need to be.

Carefully lay the glue side of the backing to the back of your puzzle pieces. Set aside to dry.

Once dry, we will start to embellish the pin.

Turn the pin over and glue the first puzzle piece in place (the green piece). With a toothpick clean up any glue that has pushed out around the edges.

From tiny pieces of cardboard I cut and glued a stack to the left of the green piece so that the next piece would not rock and also be level.

If you are layering smaller puzzle pieces on your pin front wait until the glue is at least half dry before turning it over and gluing those pieces in place. That’s why I love Tacky glue. You can handle pieces faster than if you are working with other glues because it grabs and holds very fast.

The picture above shows where I spread the tacky glue for the next puzzle piece.

The top piece will sit flat and not rock because of the cardboard stack.

Once the pin is totally dry it’s time to embellish with beads, buttons, charms, jewels and wire. Buttons and jewels (or anything with a flat back) can be glued directly onto the front of the puzzle pin. I tried several charms and decided to go with the question mark instead of the number 7. I changed the placement too because it worked better for how and where I want to wrap the wire.  Check it out:



Beads may need to be wired on in order for them to stay on. Wire can also be used alone to add a decorative touch.

Slide the beads onto the wire then wrap wire around to the back using the curve of the puzzle pieces to catch the wire and hold or shape it.

When you have wired on all of your embellishments pull both ends of the wire to the back of the pin and twist them together several times. Make sure the wire is tight enough to hold the beads in place.

With a wire cutter clip off the ends that are sticking up. Bend over the twisted end and tuck it under the other wire if possible to keep it out of the way.

Pick up your pin and find the balance point before you glue on the pin back. Place the pin back slightly above center so that the pin sits nicely when worn. I use epoxy to glue my pin backs on. Always double check the latch before gluing in place to make sure that it works correctly. I’ve gotten some duds and didn’t find out until it was glued. Set aside to dry.

Voila! A beautiful new pin to wear or give as a gift. Quick and easy and so much fun to make.

 A few extras:

Here I interlocked four small puzzle pieces and wrapped 28 gauge wire around the knobby shapes that stick out. Small red buttons were glued in place and the textile piece at the top is from that old button I mentioned earlier. Tiny, tattered and precious, I couldn’t throw it out and this was the perfect place to use it.

I only used one small puzzle piece here but combined with the battered computer chip I found on the street and a bit of wrapped wire it looks pretty cool, don’t you think?

These puzzle pieces were edged with a black Sharpie marker. Ready for the next project. Hmm, I could use them to cover a frame, a journal cover or a container with flat sides. What are your ideas? I’d love to hear….

Liz Curtin is a mixed media artist who has had 13 solo shows and been in select group shows. Her work is in many collections in the United States and Europe and her work has been shown internationally. Liz is also a singer songwriter who is working on getting up the nerve to get out and sing again in public. She is teaching a Collage Journal class at the Ink Pad in NYC on January 29th.  Visit her blog Mixed Media Madness.