Monday, September 11, 2017

5 underutilized upcycling ideas for jewellery


The recycling and upcycling movement of recent years has spawned several styles of making jewellery and accessories. We've all seen many rings and pendants featuring beautiful wristwatch movements. Old keys, particularly skeleton keys find their way into pendant designs every day. Also popular is the cutting and shaping of circuitboards. While odd bits of hardware pop up in earrings and as necklace or bracelet charms regularly.

If you've caught the upcycling fever, you may be looking for something new and different to try in your next design project. Sure, it's nice to try your own take on a popular theme, but isn't it also fun to do something that few others are exploring? In that light, I've made a brief list of some often overlooked - but quite easy to source - recycled components I'd like to see more of in handmade salvaged jewellery.

Mini Incandescent Lightbulbs

Working with hollow glass bulbs presents obvious risks to jewellery and accessory makers, but one of the most accessible options is the miniature light bulb. Their small size (and sturdy construction in most cases) makes them durable, while still creating a delicate, steampunk-inspired esthetic in earrings and pendants.



Computer Capacitors

Versatile, plentiful, and very cost-effective to salvage or purchase, capacitors come in a rainbow of colours, although most commonly black or silver. They are lightweight, safe to work with, and effective in creating the illusion of a digital element to a pendant, ring, hair clip or other mid-size accessory. I've used them in nest and egg pendants and rings, as well as accent cabochons in assemblage pieces. Larger capacitors make nice simple pendants all on their own. They're also light enough to make comfortable to wear drop earrings.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/219180861/sky-blue-and-orange-wire-birds-nest-with


Motor Windings

Ever since I started recycling e-waste into accessories, I've enjoyed the esthetic of a bare motor winding. They add an element of industrial texture and instantly raise a two dimensional design upwards and outwards.  Depending on the electronic device you're recycling, the motor windings come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours, although most are plain copper. Some of the largest are also a nice visual stand in for the infamous Arc Reactor created by fictional character Tony Stark. Many a cosplayer will love having one of these pendants in his or her wardrobe.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/100556555/long-oval-motor-windings


Mid-century Typewriter Keys

On my other Etsy shop's Facebook page I once received an angry comment from a history buff who thought it was a travesty to turn an antique typewriter key into a piece of jewellery. I assured her that most artists, myself included, only worked with parts already long separated from a working machine. But I neglected to mention the expense of working with antique parts. Even assuming you're sourcing ethically and not carelessly breaking up whole typewriters, these keys are pricey and hard to find. Mid-century typewriters on the other hand are a somewhat different story. I've found these keys much more plentiful and economical, while still creating a fun upcycled ring or pendant.

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/219732773/vintage-green-upcycled-type-key-ring


Vacuum Tubes

I mentioned vacuum tubes recently and touched on why I think so few artists convert these fun glass bulbs into pendants and accessories. As large hollow pieces of glass, they require a delicate touch to work with and extra packaging to mail safely. And they are long enough to present a challenge in using as a cabochon. The easiest and best way to adapt them is to (carefully!) fold the prongs at the end in on themselves. Or a slightly trickier method is to use a bead cap, if you can find one large enough. (I've done shotgun shell caps myself.)

https://www.etsy.com/listing/91655478/vacuum-tube-glass-bulb

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