Continuing my process of going through boxes of old materials that were bought for a particular purpose but not used, or were parts for something that I used to make but could no longer get the other components for, I’ve made a collection of new assemblage necklaces. These are made with buttons, bits of old broken jewellery, beads (some old, some new), miniature teapots, charms, and a variety of different chains that are mostly antique bronze or copper plated. Each one is unique, and they’re priced at £18. You can see the full range on my necklaces page here.
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:
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.
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).
…aaaand we’re back. I’ve finished moving house. Not finished unpacking, but all the things have been extracted from the old place and put into the new one.
Because I apparently have unusual priorities, rather than deal with the large pile of assorted items that has gathered in the corner of my new jewellery-making studio (sample: coathangers that I don’t want, an old Swan kettle, some sofa cushions which my mother inexplicably bestowed on me, massive roll of bubblewrap, a collection of Fairport Convention memorabilia, giftwrap, an inexplicable map of Birmingham) I have put some pictures of my latest necklaces onto the internet.
Talking of piles of miscellaneous objects, this is what these necklaces are made from. After I had declared my shops closed after the last Christmas rush, as a little reward for myself, I got out some boxes of old broken jewellery that I’d been hoarding for a few years, spread all the bits out on the floor, and picked out the best bits to turn into new upcycled charm necklaces.
Most of the time, as I’m making a living from jewellery-making, I have to make sure I can make multiples of each piece that I design – otherwise the time I spend photographing, processing and uploading each item becomes too much and can’t make things fast enough. I do make a few one-of-a-kind items, and I’d like to do more of this, but at the moment with the way my shops are set up I don’t get the opportunity very often.
So after frantically making lots of my stock designs over and over for people’s Christmas shopping, I wanted to make something completely different and unique, without worrying about whether I could reproduce anything similar ever again – it was a little no-strings-attached creative break for me.
Here are the two necklaces I made:
Update: both of these necklaces are now sold, but you can check out other unique bohemian necklaces in stock here.