You see, it's projects like these that make me think Artbeads.com and I share a brain. Our latest assignment is to transform vintage jewelry and components into modern works of wearable art - that's one of my favouritest things to do! I love to visit local thrift stores and pick up jewelry with interesting character and butcher it apart when I get home, transforming something someone got tired of into a new favourite. Not everything I end up snagging at these stores are 'vintage' and 'antique' by definition, but they tend to carry a worldly or rustic attribute that attracts me. Not only are you being 'thrifty' in fashion, you're buying something with a history, as supposed to just getting onto the racks from the factories. It was owned and loved by someone who had great memories attached to this piece, whose family photo albums probably have a few images of that particular piece you just bought at your local thrift store. Now, you'll carry on those happy memories into your own, however you reshape them. Why not reshape the piece?
So, I went rummaging through a few places to come up with everything that I had 'antique'. Even after taking these photos I managed to find even more stashes of vintage and repurposed components that were making me giddy. It was getting to a point of madness where I couldn't focus - and decided on a select few that I would focus on. I even tried to map them together in a way, and I was pretty close to sticking to it ... well, kind of. I really enjoy the eclectic madness of steampunk fashion, blending industrial and organic elements together with a "storybook" mystique. These pieces are what I'd call "rusted romance", with telling stories unique to each wearer. Here's a list of repurposed and vintage components you'll see in these pieces:
- Mixed metal links in gold-, silver- and red copper-plated finishes with riveted detail from a thrifted pair of earrings.
- Vintage beads with a iridescent gold finish, thrifted from a gifted necklace, circa 1970s.
- Vintage gold Love pendant, gifted by a family member, circa 1980s.
- Components from a vintage bracelet (of the costume jewelry variety), featuring a blue and white striped glass cabochon set in a silver-plated pewter frame.
- Repurposed sew-on appliques of 'metal' plates from a vintage tunic blouse, circa 1980s.
- Gold-plated authentic vintage Chanel charm, the last of the 'garage sale stash'.
- A few vintage and antique earrings that had lost their mates (some only had components 'borrowed' from them).
- A few of my favourite vintage charms and pendants from my personal collection.
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This necklace has already made a few appearances in my personal wardrobe, and it may stay with me for a while before I decide to sell it. I think this has to be the most favourite (!!) necklace that I've made thus far. I had imagined this necklace a little bit differently, with an intricate bib constructed of the repurposed oval links, copper gears, various suited beads and jump rings, but I could never get it to sit right, no matter what I had done to correct it. It was by way of chance that I happened to dangle two strands of alternating pieces from the sparrow's beak that this whole design concept came about. These beads with an iridescent gold finish are incredibly intriguing in their unique shape and shimmer. I had linked three of these beads on the opposite side of the sparrow, representing a likeness to birds' eggs. This Love pendant has some personal history to it, being a gift from an aunt a few years ago, which she had purchased during a vacation in the States in the eighties. The quintessential clock gears make their stylish presence, representing the history of these vintage components.
Materials used from Artbeads.com: 25mm Antiqued Brass Spoked Gear Link (FIND-0013), 16mm Antiqued Brass Spoked Gear Link (FIND-0015), 19mm Antiqued Brass Basic Gear Link (FIND-0018), Antiqued Brass Soaring Bird Link (BBA-LX19).
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Whilst strolling through Artbeads.com's Steampunk section, I happened across a special memory from my childhood. My mother had a charm bracelet with these specific heart and key charms in pewter silver. She had let me wear it a few times as a child; it was a favourite of hers, and she was happy to let me wear it, but so as long as I was very careful and I gave it back to her at the end of the day. I really liked the charms because I enjoyed the "puzzle pieces" that I could play with and kept me busy for quite some time, flipping the charms in my little hands over and over again - I'm pretty sure that's why my mother didn't mind me wearing it. I was so happy to see these charms available, and featured them in a special tribute of my own with these asymmetrical earrings. The charms are framed with a two oval links, completing a mixed metal look with sophistication and trendy simplicity. These earrings are a keeper - thank you, Artbeads.com!
Materials used from Artbeads.com: 19mm x 16mm Brass Key Cutout Heart Quote Charm (CHARM-0003), 17mm x 6mm Brass Key for Heart Quote Charm (CHARM-0004).
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You'll probably recognize the pendant in another Artbeads.com design; this striped glass cabochon had come from a bracelet I just had to have from a costume jewelry vendor at the Canadian National Exhibition a few years ago. The bracelet consisted of five of these cabochons with green rhinestones set in brass - you'll see one on the necklace - in between each. The "metal" plates - really made of soft moulded plastic - were sew-on appliques I had ripped off a vintage thrifted blouse circa 1980s. I loved the shirt, and loved these appliques, but didn't like them together. I had put two of these plates flat-side together on each jump ring for a fuller look and sturdier feel. The iridescent gold beads come from the same source as the beads used in Love in Flight, one being more of an oval shape - they were they only two left! Brass clock gears complete the mixed metal look, with homage to the vintage pieces incorporated in the piece. I wanted to make sure there was a special colour element to tie in the blue stripes with the rest of the necklace, and found it in this beautiful puffed porcelain bead with gorgeous detail of a butterfly wing. It had a lovely hue of blue that complemented the 'pendant' quite nicely, as well as tying in some of the warmer metals with the hints of warm tones. An organza bow is tied to the top for a little feminine touch to all this heavy metal, finishing off with a little more vintage reclaimed chain and a lobster clasp.
Materials used from Artbeads.com: 25mm Antiqued Brass Spoked Gear Link (FIND-0013), 16mm Antiqued Brass Spoked Gear Link (FIND-0015), 19mm Antiqued Brass Basic Gear Link (FIND-0018), Ceramic Puffed Butterfly Bead (PB-24PR87), 7/8-Inch White Organza Ribbon (R78-WHITE).
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This one is the very last vintage Chanel charm from the stash my wonderful boyfriend brought home for me from a garage sale, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to incorporate this into a simple statement necklace of sorts. An Eiffel Tower charm rescued from a souvenier bracelet and Artbeads.com's fleur de lis charm in antique gold finish dangle with the Chanel medallion on the remaining clock gears. A reclaimed gold rope chain completes the necklace, the lobster clasp fastening on the side to a tear-drop loop - that one's a 'borrowed' component from a vintage earring that lost its mate. The dichroic white glass bead with gold swirl came from that same earring and give a nice complement to the Eiffel charm's bright silver. A whimsical necklace with lots of character!
Materials used from Artbeads.com: 25mm Antiqued Brass Spoked Gear Link (FIND-0013), 16mm Antiqued Brass Spoked Gear Link (FIND-0015), 19mm Antiqued Brass Basic Gear Link (FIND-0018), TierraCast Antique Gold Large Fleur de Lis Charm (GA-2238).
I fell in love with this pin the moment I saw it. I have a great collection of pendants and charms that have been given to me by family and friends, with great memories and occasions attached to them. This pin gives me a chance to feature my most favourite of my collection, including this vintage owl pendant, circa 1960s, given to me by my grandmother, and the flower charm with turquoise and red carnelian, given to me by a friend during my college years. The watch face charm is a representation of the concept of this pin; a collection of timeless memories captured in souveniers and tokens of love.
Materials used from Artbeads.com: 29mm x 21mm TierraCast Antique Silver-Plated Pewter Clock Charm (SA-2345), Antiqued Silver Ancient Pin (PIN-04).
With fashion tending to recycle itself every few decades or so, adding authentic vintage elements to you jewelry designs can keep you ahead of the trend. I betcha there are a few pieces in your accessory wardrobe right now that you've held onto for sentimental reasons, and it just may pay off for you. Consider the opportunity to create new memories - and new trends - by transforming it into something you'll fall in love with all over again, and you'll have sparked a small legacy with your new favourite accessory that feels so familiar. It'll turn into a conversation piece when your friends ask, "Didn't I see that ...", trust me! You'll have a chance to tell its history! You'll find everything you need at Artbeads.com to start the 'fashion-forward' flame!
*Disclaimer: I had received these products free of charge from Artbeads.com and I am making an honest review of the products and have not been paid for this endorsement as it pertains to the products received.