How to Reuse Items for Jewelry Art

One of the things I love about jewelry art is that most of my supplies are from reused and recycled items. For example, when I buy jewelry online, I search for ‘used’ or ‘pre-owned.’

I do that for two reasons:

1. Vintage jewelry, to me, feels sturdier. Meaning, the metals are stronger and don’t break as easy when removing pin backs or jump rings

2. Things made deserve a second chance.

Styles change, so it would be super easy to just discard something as a ‘never want again.’ Skipping the discard by creating something new, is what makes jewelry art fun and unique.

The pieces I LOVE buying used to be really fashionable in the 1990’s and 1980’s. They were huge, shiny, and sparkly. Collar bone to collar bone, they were the star of an outfit.

Plain shirt? No problem. Throw on a chunky statement necklace. These days, a plain shirt is stylish enough. So, for me, the vintage statement necklaces can make some really amazing art.

Yard sales and garage sales are fun places to look for jewelry as well. My dad and sister got me these pieces:

from my dad and sister

Other reused items that I use, are for jewelry and bead storage. Sometimes I have lots of jewelry to create with, so I try to keep the space somewhat organized.

I bought these jars at an online local auction for $12. They are Anchor Hocking and considered vintage, which I like. There were 4, but I just dropped one and now I get to sweep up a mess, ha ha.

reused jars for storing tumbled glass and beads
oops!!!

Last week while at a yard sale with my sister, I bought this spice rack for $3. It has glass jars that can hold small beads.

recycled spice cabinet for bead storage
spice cabinet jars

The next day, my dad bought me another spice holder at a yard sale. It’s really cool! The ‘drawers’ are the actual bottles themselves, with the wood part as the lid.

thanks, dad
a cool spice cabinet turned bead holder

Also, it is possible to repurpose things from around the house. For instance, if you have any wall art that you’re either tired of or feel isn’t your style anymore, maybe try to redo it into something you’ll love.

I had a wall canvas that didn’t quite fit my space anymore, so I painted it, added a butterfly and jewelry, and now I love it again.

a canvas wall hanging I made over

Reuse and recycle is what I feel jewelry art is all about. If we open ourselves up to seeing new possibilities, this art form is essentially limitless.

Hope your day is wonderful!

Jessica

22 comments

  1. Love that spice rack with the drawer front lids! What a great idea for storage. I do use my empty spice bottles to hold small items I use, like tacks, paper clips, tiny clothespins. It makes it easy to find what I am looking for!

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    • Good morning! Oooo, that’s a great idea about the tacks, paper clips, and tiny clothes pins!

      I love that spice rack, too. Very unique. I’ll be on the lookout for more of those at flea markets and things.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great storage! I wish mine was organized. Maybe I’d start to do art. I did do a craft project at the library recently. We made an initial with shells. This was one I didn’t care about, but I wanted to hang out with my friends. The library pays for all supplies. I ended up liking it. (I tried to post the picture here, but it won’t let me.) I pit it in the back of my entertainment center I have repurposed as curio cabinets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh darn, I wish I could see it! Sounds super fun and how nice that the library covers the costs. Hanging out with friends sounds really nice. Wow, love that you repurposed your entertainment center. I always see those at sales- that’s a great idea for new use for them. I understand about getting organized. I’m redoing my art space today. I had a small table I was using foreverrrrrrr. It occurred to me today, that I can swap it out for a big one I bought to use at craft fairs. No fairs until October, so a bigger work space would be nice.

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  3. Loved this post Jessica! I have a couple of questions: 1. Do you ever dismantle the jewelry to use only the gems or beads?
    2. If yes, how do you dislodge the beads and then what do you do with the leftover setting?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Terry, great questions! I generally take everything apart, in some way.

      Taking apart beads depends on the piece. Sometimes beads are glued on or sometimes they are sewn on. Some bib necklaces have beads that are sewn in rows like tapestry. I use scissors to cut the fabric and loosen the beads. The fabric could be reused for things like cut into shapes and glued, like flower petals.

      Some old clip on earrings have beads sewn into them. If say, part of the earring is damaged or has missing pieces, the remaining beads can be cut loose.

      Beaded necklaces depend on how they are strung. Some are knotted in between the beads. For those, I just cut the necklace into sections and glue 3 or 4 inches of beads tied together at a time. Other necklaces are strung together and once cut, the beads will come off.

      Gems, it depends. If the piece has all gems intact, I leave them and glue on the whole setting. If it has some gems missing, sometimes it’s possible to dislodge the others. Some pieces with gems have holes behind them on the backside. Depending on the glue they used, sometimes pushing something through that hole will pop them out. Also, if the metal setting is somewhat pliable, sometimes you can twist the metal around a bit and the gem glue will loosen and they’ll come out.

      I have some pieces I ordered that have stones missing. Sometimes I have taken the other pieces out and sometimes I just use them anyway- glue the whole thing on, missing pieces and all.

      As for what to do with the leftover setting, depending on the piece, sometimes they are a work of art all on their own. They could be used in a collage type art or shapes or even something like centers for flowers.

      For the dislodging part itself, if you’re wanting to remove a gem from a specific piece, maybe look into jewelers tools. They make small tools for jewelry making. Most that I’ve seen are metal, so care has to be taken to not scratch the gems/beads. It may be possible to pull the prongs back with a tool, to get the bead/gem out.

      I actually use electrical pliers. They have a black coating on them so they don’t scratch the jewelry surfaces.

      I hope I answered your questions. If you have more, feel free to ask. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for your reply, Jessica. Now, to find some old costume jewelry – I’ll be checking out garage sales and FB Marketplace first, and will also put a call out to family and friends. Thanks again for your detailed reply. It was most helpful. 😊 Have a great day!

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      • Hi. You are very welcome. Love your idea about letting family and friends know. Sometimes people can run across some pretty cool jewelry at different places. Bet it will be fun to see what all you come up with. Hope you have a wonderful day. I appreciate your kind words and questions. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw, darn! Sorry it broke. I really like the spice rack your dad bought for you. Oh, interesting questions from commenter Terry. Also, love the butterfly. Mariposa (my town) means butterfly in Spanish.

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    • Good morning, I couldn’t believe I dropped that jar! I grabbed it right under the lid, then crash… from now on, I’ll hold them at the bottom. LOVE that your town means butterfly!! That’s really cool. Thank you, I love how it turned out. The canvas below it, that I painted over, was a gift from my momma about 10 years ago. I probably would not have painted over it if I’d known I’d lose her so quickly, BUT, it’s pretty and bright. I have it sitting with all her things on a shelf in my art space.

      Dad got a real bargain on that spice rack. I looked it up on eBay yesterday and saw one for $85. I think he paid a few bucks. I’m going to keep it. It’s unique and sweet.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi. Thank you. Some beads are tiny and get overlooked when they’re in the bottom of a box. Hey, just curious how you organize all your paints and tools. I’m open to ideas on how to make painting stuff accessible, yet organized…

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