Great Article: Making Jewelry From Found Objects

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How to Make Recycled Jewelry: Four Free Found-Object DIY Jewelry-Making Projects

TammyJones50 Tammy Jones
Online Editor

I’m pretty sure that our free eBook, DIY Recycled Jewelry: 4 Free Tutorials is my favorite one ever.

I’ve always been a fan of upcycling, of repurposing (saving, really) pretty old bits and pieces of just about anything into pretty new recycled jewelry designs. I have such a love of old things, it makes me sad to see something that was once a treasure be tossed aside (or worse, tossed out) just because the clasp is broken or a crystal is missing. (It’s probably the same kind of “love” that makes me buy every broken-nosed snowman I see in the stores around Christmastime; I know if I don’t buy them, no one will. And now my secret’s out!)

Making recycled jewelry is a great way to give all the beauty and craftsmanship of found objects a second life, of seeing how much aesthetic value you can find in a discarded (but interesting) scrap. Working with pieces of old jewelry or silverware, old watch or clock parts, bits of paper ephemera or ribbon, etc.–anything old and lovely–also forces me to be more creative than I might be when working with all new components or even making metal components from scratch. Upcycled jewelry feels like a form of collage that allows me to break the rules and mix things I love into something beautiful and meaningful. Plus, it’s just so much fun!

The four recycled jewelry step-by-step projects in DIY Recycled Jewelry: 4 Free Tutorials will inspire you to dig through your stash (and maybe the trash…) and do just that. You can find and use found objects similar to the ones the project designers used in these projects, or simply be inspired by what they created and use the skills they teach you to make your own recycled jewelry out of found treasures.


Vintage Illustration Pendant
By Eleanore Macnish

Sparkly rhinestone bits and pieces of old jewelry are probably the most prized find for recycled jewelry artists. Pair them with a bit of paper ephemera, some resin and silver components, and some sprinkles–of course–and you have a charming and truly one-of-a-kind statement jewelry piece. From the artist: “To make this pendant, you need to go on a scavenger hunt. Gather all sorts of earrings, vintage illustrations of cakes, and whatever you think might look good hanging from the bottom of your pendant. Good places to start hunting are a flea market or tag and yard sales. I gathered orphaned earrings, vintage jewelry, coins, tokens, and game pieces for my pendant.”


Found Object Pendant
By Eleanore Macnish

What a fun piece! Use a bit of a vintage ruler to mark a friend’s number-related milestone (turning 40, losing 20, birthing #4, selling house #100?) and a typewriter key letter to “monogram” it. Add a message with some metal stamps and the resulting piece of recycled found object jewelry will be a treasured memory for your friend, a special secret between the two of you, and a unique conversation-starting piece of jewelry to the rest of the world.


Floral Cantasy Recycled Can Pin/Brooch
By Claire S. Larrabee

You can’t describe any of these recycled jewelry projects without the word “fun”–and this one is no exception! Turn a pretty drink can into a bouquet of flowers using a simple craft paper punch and see if you don’t get hooked on recycling cans into jewelry! “While drinking a soda one day, I realized how pretty the can was, with its bright colors and novel graphics,” designer Claire said. “Recycling cans as jewelry seemed like a fun idea, so with a scrapbooking punch and simple wirework techniques, I started turning cans into colorful earrings, pins, and necklaces.”


Hidden Gem Seashell Pendants
By Beth Ullman

What better way to showcase a pretty pearl than in a “bezel” made from a seashell? (Aquamarine also springs to mind; other gem beads would work just as well, of course.) Designer Beth Ullman was inspired by the huge, beautiful shells she found on the beaches of Israel. “In my design, I wanted to imitate the ocean waves in the wire, and keep the rough, organic feel of the shell. I used the heavy outer-wrap wire for the bail and kept the overall design asymmetric. This wrapping style can be used on sea glass, coral, stones, or any other found treasure.” Another thing to love about these seashell pendants? Shells are free! I bet you have a stash at home like I do, just waiting for a second life.

With the cost of metals (and everything else!) rising, it’s more fun and rewarding than ever to make jewelry using things you already have or can recycle from something that’s free. “Free and unusual jewelry supplies are all around you when you use recycled materials and found objects. They cost little or nothing, are better off in your supply bin than a landfill, and will make your jewelry anything but standard jewelry store fare,” says Merle White, Editorial Director of Interweave’s Jewelry group.

In addition to these four fun and fabulous recycled jewelry projects, you’ll get great tips, like

•    how to properly seal paper ephemera for use with resin (and get a very clear view of why)
•    how to use craft paper punches with aluminum cans for jewelry making
•    how to use nickels for soldering supports, and more.

Get your artistic recycled jewelry-making projects in our free eBook, DIY Recycled Jewelry: 4 Free Tutorials !

Enjoy making recycled found-object jewelry with these four projects!

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