Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Top 10 Ways to Get Good Junk & Supplies

Supply sources in Vancouver & beyond

Over the past few years, I've had lots of people ask me where I find the funky parts I use in my jewellery. Since my answers have always been complicated and convoluted, I'm putting all the links together here.

I source all my supplies with reusing and recycling as my first priority. Browsing junk and taking apart watches, electronics, and computer hardware is a great way to unleash creativity.

When it's the concept that comes first, I try to think about what I already have and what parts are already out in the world in circulation. It's a great strategy for life in general.

However, when a really great idea strikes and no amount of searching can produce the supplies I need second-hand, I look to several handy online or brick-and-mortar resources. So my list covers sources of used and new material.

Here in Vancouver, I like:

The Vancouver Flea Market
This funky weekend market is a great place to find the junk drawers of hundreds of people, all emptied under one roof. It reminds me of a cross between the Floating Market from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and the space port from Firefly and Serenity.

Urban Source
An art supply store that specializes in reclaiming leftovers from manufacturing and generally unusual items. I find a new delight each time I get the chance to visit.

Value Village
Sure, it's a chain, but you can't fault them for that when reusing and recycling is their business. I'm always dissapointed to see a flood of disposable plastic every Halloween, but other than that, they're a great place to find bags of watches, obselete gadgets, and small appliances that have seen better days.

There's no getting around it; this is an international chain and everything they carry is mass produced. But they do carry a few items I like to work with. Due to to price and ethics, I seriously limit the supplies purchased here.

Online, based in Canada and the US:

The Northern Bead Company
Based in Ontario, they have a great selection of Swarovski crystals, specifically in shapes and colours I found nowhere else. Other standard beading goodies as well.

The Beady Eye
Another Ontario-based store, they started on Etsy and I've been a fan from my first purchase. I love their chain and findings.

Dime Store Emporium
Another store that started on Etsy, this boutique is a great source for charms and stampings, mostly copper and brass. Selected charms are available with a patina already applied.

When you're looking for authentic vintage enamel or lucite flowers and beads BlueBird has you covered. She also writes a blog called Blue Bird Lucy's.

Etsy Shops
Browsing with keywords that relate to your project idea will sometimes turn up smaller sellers that have a few things you'll fall in love with. You might only buy from a smaller seller once, but I still recommend general browsing.

eBay Sellers
Like Etsy, you'll find that eBay sellers range from large stores to sellers with only a few items. The key difference is the auction element for many listings. Sometimes bidding on an auction is the best way to make supplies affordable, but this can be a frustrating process if you have a really great idea and you just want your gear already. Depending on what you're looking for, you could be outbid a dozen times before you get a good deal. Great for patient bargain hunters.