One-of-a-Kind Upcycled Assemblage Necklace: Beachcomber

The Beachcomber necklace is made from selected contents from my box of Things, which were collected over many years, and not necessarily always intentionally. Originally the box was somewhere to put unrelated might-be-useful-one-day small objects; eventually it became more curated as I realised that all the bits and pieces might one day become new pieces of jewellery. And one day they did:

Beachcomber Necklace

This necklace is a longer length than many of the necklaces I make, measuring 64.5cm. It’s made with upcycled twisty gold-toned chain from a broken necklace that I inherited from somewhere (a friend of a relative who was having a clearout and sent their broken things to me? Although this seems to happen so often that I don’t remember who it was, now…). There are all sorts of old and new, found and donated things attached – old coins, a ceramic miniature teapot, beads and buttons and charms, a ring, seashells and a wooden carving.

Necklaces like this one are among my favourite things to make because they’re unique, unconventional, and mostly recycled. (They’re also a useful conversation-starter when I wear them to parties.)

You can find out more about this necklace (or even buy it!) here.

Upcycled Mixed Media Bead Bracelets

I’ve been making bracelets from my hoard of beads and bits and pieces. The hoard came about for various reasons: one reason is that there are leftovers from previous beading projects; another is that sometimes pieces of my own jewellery have broken and never ended up being fixed, or were so badly broken that it wasn’t worth repairing them. Then there is the slightly weird reason that sometimes when I buy a stash of vintage buttons, or receive one as a donation, there are a few beads in with the buttons. This happens surprisingly often, I suppose because they’re a similar size and people tend to just shove them into their button tins for tidiness. My mum gives me piles of beads too – she seems to mysteriously acquire them as well (I think people give them to here on the basis that she is an Arty Person and thus will know what to do with them).

My latest bracelets are in the mixed media bracelets section. They’re made with memory wire, which is a useful type of wire that is flexible but also holds its shape, meaning the bracelet can stretch to fit different wrist sizes while still retaining a firm, round shape. It also means they don’t need to fasten at the ends, which means they’re really easy to put on and take off (and I am a great fan of bracelets that are easy to put on and take off without having to fiddle with clasps).

Each one is unique, although as they sell I am replacing them with new ones in similar colour schemes (until the beads run out, anyway!).

You can find these bracelets here.

Custom Button Necklaces with No Metal Parts

Back in February, I got a message from Heather in Lincolnshire. She had recently lost a favourite button necklace, which wasn’t one that I’d made – it was slightly different. The main difference was that it was one continuous piece, with no clasp, which she preferred because she is sensitive to metals. Given that there was no clasp, it was also slightly longer than most of the necklaces I make, so that it could fit over a person’s head to put it on. The colour scheme was also a bit different to any single one of my regular ones – Heather described it as a combination of my autumn colours necklace and vintage summer pastels necklace.

She asked if I could recreate this lost necklace – and thanks to her detailed description, I was able to make something that she said was very close to it. This is what it looked like:

Heather got in touch again last week and told me she’s still wearing it almost every day. She had a new commission for me too – she’d raided her mum’s button tin and wanted me to make another necklace using the buttons. So she posted them to me, and once they arrived, I made another one in the same style.

If you have some buttons you’d like to be turned into jewellery, you can find details on my heirloom button jewellery page.

Four New Delicate Button Necklaces

Here are some new button necklaces in the lightweight, delicate style that I’ve been using just recently – one in silver-grey, one in various shades of green, one in vintage pearl, and one in a mix of warm, bright colours.

These necklaces are great for petite necklines and people who want something subtle and buttony. They also make good presents for children, who can wear them as a longer necklace when they are small (I’d suggest around age 8 and up) but also continue to wear them as they grow, as they still fit as a shorter necklace on an adult.

The buttons used to make these necklaces are usually between 8 – 11mm across, and the necklaces measure around 45cm (exact lengths are specified on individual listings).

You can browse my button necklace collection here.

Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Earrings

While continuing my process of delving through boxes of leftover materials and forgotten bits and pieces, I found a bag of jigsaw puzzle pieces. There were still a few left that were similar enough to each to make pairs, so they’re become earrings. Each pair is unique, and these ones come from a vintage puzzle which had a bird design on it.

It was donated to me because too many of the pieces were missing for it to be completed without being incredibly irritating – but it could still be turned into other things…

All of these jigsaw puzzle earrings are for sale at the Unexpected Boutique. Each pair is one-of-a-kind.

Beaded Safety Pin Earrings – Three New Colours

Last year I made a batch of safety pin drop earrings using gold safety pins with green and bronze rocaille beads. These earrings were popular with customers, so I’ve made some more, in several new colour schemes: red, peacock blue, and multicoloured.

They are available from the Unexpected Boutique website and Etsy shop.

Latest Jewellery: Felt Necklaces and an Autumnal Button Necklace

Felt and button necklaces

At the moment I’m doing some using-up-of-leftover-materials from previous projects (as with my upcycled bead bracelets) and next in the queue was my box of felt beads. Previously I’ve made big batches of identical necklaces, but with the odd ones left over, over the past couple of days, I’ve made the first few of some one-of-a-kind felt necklaces. There are some more lying in a big fuzzy pile on my workbench waiting to have their clasps put on, but these three are finished and available to buy at Unexpected Boutique’s felt necklaces page.

I’ve also made a new button necklace in autumn colours, to replace the previous new one which sold almost immediately:

This button necklace can be purchased here.

Felt necklaces

Upcycled Bohemian Bead Bracelets – Made With Memory Wire

Boho bracelet

For ages now I’ve had a stash of beads that have been waiting to be made into jewellery. However, out of the whole box, there’s probably only about ten percent that were bought by me as beads. That ten percent are leftovers from other projects; the rest of them are there because, over the years, some beaded necklace or other has broken. Some of these were from jewellery that I owned myself, and others came from other people’s broken jewellery clearouts, and were given to me because people thought I was the sort of person who cold make use of them. The thing is, I mostly haven’t, because I’ve mostly been making things out of buttons rather than beads. I never really got into the whole “bead” thing. But a few weeks ago, I thought: they’ve been sitting there for years. (And I really mean years – I’ve had some of them for getting on fifteen years now.) They are not achieving anything at all by sitting there in a box. So I sat down and made a small fraction of my bead collection into bracelets.

I’m fussy about bracelets – or, specifically, bracelet fastenings. Obviously, as a person who uses their hands a lot, I need a bracelet to do two things: not get in the way too much, and not fall off. Otherwise I just don’t wear them. But I equally despise the kind of bracelet fastening that always requires another person to fasten it for the wearer. That’s just annoying. So this limits me to the alarmingly small number of secure clip fastenings that are easy to do up and take off with one hand, or elastic bracelets. Or so I thought. All this time I’ve been ignoring one really obvious solution to the bracelet problem: memory wire.

Memory wire is basically a hard steel spring, and comes in a big coil that looks like a slinky toy. To make into a bracelet, you cut off a section of one or two coils, and basically just bead it up however you like. When you put on a memory wire bracelet, it does two things – stretches and bends briefly so you can get your wrist in, before returning to its previous shape when on your wrist. As well as this, it gently moulds around whatever size wrist it finds itself around, so will fit snugly on a variety of wrist sizes larger than its resting size (or will be like a round bangle on smaller wrists).

So, memory wire is what my new collection of boho-looking beaded bracelets are made with. You can get them at the Unexpected Boutique, and also in my Etsy shop.

New Hook Button Earrings in Vintage Colours

When people talk about “vintage” or “heritage” colours – what do they mean? I think it’s usually to do with a muted, soft tone to the colours, which might be because a once-bright colour faded with age, or because the pigments used in whatever times qualify as “vintage” may not have been as bold as some used today.

Thus I make a distinction between jewellery made with “vintage buttons” – anything that comes to me secondhand, and appears to be ten years old or more (sometimes a lot more), I usually class in this category – and “vintage colours”, which might be new buttons, just with a softer tone.

Then again, some buttons may be both at once. And some of my jewellery might be made with a mixture of differently-aged buttons. If things look good together, I don’t usually try to segregate them by age. So in my latest button earring collection, you’ll find new buttons alongside older ones, but the colours are themed according to a vintage palette.

Teal and Coral Button Earrings
Teal and Coral Button Earrings
Wood Flower Button Earrings
Wood Flower Button Earrings
Forest and Rose Button Earrings
Forest and Rose Button Earrings
Champagne and Burgundy Button Earrings
Champagne and Burgundy Button Earrings
Eggshell Button Earrings
Eggshell Button Earrings
Purple, Burgundy and Orange Rust Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Purple, Burgundy and Orange Rust Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Olive and Teal Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Olive and Teal Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Burgundy and Olive Button Earrings
Burgundy and Olive Button Earrings
Long Green Button Earrings
Long Green Button Earrings

Bohemian Upcycled Necklaces

Here are my latest three Bohemian style necklaces – all completely unique and one-of-a-kind items, made with re-used or leftover buttons, beads, chains and assorted bits and pieces.

beachcomber-necklace-2a

‘Beachcomber’ upcycled long necklace, £45, Unexpected Boutique

dragons-hoard-necklace-2

‘Dragon’s Hoard’ upcycled long Bohemian necklace, £45, Unexpected Boutique

riverbed-necklace-1‘Riverbed’ upcycled long Bohemian necklace, £45, Unexpected Boutique

All are hand-assembled, and although I hope to make some more jewellery in this style in the future, each one is very much a one-off. They were created partly out of thrift – using up bits and pieces that were leftover from other jewellery projects, experiments that didn’t produce the right results, and in some cases bits and bobs that I’ve had since my teens and childhood – things that were nothing particularly special or useful but shouldn’t be thrown away. Because: if something can be repurposed, used or appreciated by anyone other than the current owner, of course it shouldn’t be thrown away. Far too much is thrown away, and while these necklaces are hardly even a thousandth of a drop in the ocean when it comes to changing that, I hope they at least symbolise the idea that what might seem like rubbish doesn’t always have to be, and might add to a growing consciousness of re-use and re-purposing being better – at least sometimes – than making something brand new in a factory.