Simply Beads Newsletter
Upcycling & Found-Object Jewelry
So, how does recycling and living a "green" life translate into jewelry making? All it takes is a little creativity, and an eye for the unique. You can turn that old magazine, jar of mishmash buttons, vintage car parts or even a 1950s board game into beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. Even a walk on the beach can give both inspiration and materials to create great jewelry. This trend is called "upcycling," or found-object jewelry making, and is a wonderful and fresh way to give new life to items in your life that would have been be thrown away otherwise.
Let's start with upcycling some paper into beautiful beads. I collect magazines -- Vogue, National Geographic, and of course, CardMaker. Once I have read through the magazines, I set them aside to keep, but I've always wanted to be able to do something more with them than clutter shelves. Paper bead making is the perfect use for those old magazines, newspapers, junk mail or flyers, pamphlets you pick up on vacation, and even patterned papers for card making and scrapbooking!
Start by cutting rectangles from paper product, keeping in mind the wider the rectangle the longer your finished bead will be. Trim these rectangles into two triangles by cutting from one corner to the opposite corner. Then, starting at the wide bottom edge of the triangle, roll paper piece around a wood skewer or a paper bead roller, and when you have rolled your piece to almost the end, stop rolling.
Now spread some clear-drying glue to the tip, and then roll the remaining paper over, then coat the outside of the bead with a thin layer of glue and set aside to dry. I created my paper bead using scraps of patterned paper from My Mind's Eye Six by Six A Beautiful Life Paper Pad. It is amazing how different the chevron pattern appears after it is rolled into a bead.
If you have old buttons lying around, try creating button jewelry out if them. A button ring is an easy way to use up those old buttons. Using 20-gauge craft wire, two old buttons and some Swarovski crystals, I was able to create this fabulous ring. Don't be afraid to wing it when it comes to working with wire and buttons. Personally, I like a messy-looking wire wrap when I create button rings. I think it adds to the texture and uniqueness of the wrap.
Now, when you think about making upcycled jewelry or found-object jewelry, keep in mind that your options are limitless. Here are a few ideas: Try using vintage board-game parts. Here in Photo 1, I have used the tiles from an old Bingo game and Swarovski crystals to create a bracelet. In the same manner, I have chopped up old cuff links to create the stunning bracelet shown in Photo 2. Right now I am currently working on a necklace for a co-worker's daughter from shells they found on a beach vacation. They made sure that when looking for shells they looked for ones that were naturally eroded to reveal a natural hole.
One really interesting designer I recently learned about from a friend is creating jewelry from vintage cars and even old refrigerators. I have featured this designer, Lyndsey Smith of Sharp Dressed Van, in an exclusive interview for this month's newsletter. Lyndsey and her fiance, Chuck, are both designers creating furniture and jewelry from their junkyard finds. Their designs have inspired me to think about even more possibilities.
Think about old items you would most likely throw away once they are out of date and create jewelry from them instead. Items like laptops or computer towers have a large variety of components that would work well for pendants and earrings. Those discarded puzzles that have missing pieces—try creating focal-point pendants or even links for a bracelet by piercing holes in either side of each puzzle piece and connecting them with jump rings!
As you can see, upcycling and found-object jewelry making can inspire and amaze! Try creating something new today!