Sunday, 3 June 2012

Jewellery Making, Upcycling & Charity Shops...


Perhaps surprisingly for the owner of a bead shop, I'm a great fan of reusing beads and 'stuff' that I frequently find in the charity shops of Tetbury. 'Upcycling' is really trendy, and there is no longer any 'stigma' in secondhand - in fact it's embraced!  I am a well practiced upcycler, so I hope that some of these ideas give you new inspiration in your jewellery crafts. Do send pics of what you make - or post them on madcowbeads facebook page

The most obvious way to reuse is to search charity shops for costume jewellery and break it back down into components and beads to use in new designs. You can also change the appearance of jewellery using the tried and tested 'half a boiled egg in a plastic bag' technique to get a vintage / oxidised finish, or use jewellers paste / wax. Another idea is to use Hammerite spray paint. On the right pieces, this looks totally amazing.

My latest upcycling obsession involves Patera pendants. Patera just means a 'shallow dish' - ideal for putting 'things' into. Specifically 'things I have found' in charity shops.  Look for a style of pendant with a  3mm+ lip, as this gives lots of flexibility.

Charity shops are excellent for old annuals  - and pieces from these look really kitsch inside the patera pendant - Rupert Bear never looked so funky! Also try old maps - maybe a place that  has a special significance for you, or the wearer? These little pendants can so easily become 'memory keepsakes' with a well chosen inner - try an extract from a favourite book, a stamp, part of a ticket small coin, or even a feather or leaf.

You can also age your intended insert with tea if appropriate.

Don't finish at the book or costume section when recycling! There are some great fabrics in charity shops that you can use in your Patera pendant. All types of patterns can work. I have a preference for ditsy florals, but other patterns work just as well.

(If you buy an item of clothing to upcycle for its fabric in your Patera pendant, cut the buttons off too - we can use those later :-) Also, cut the arms of a shirt, or front panels lengthways into 30mm strips. Fold and press in half lengthways, right sides facing and stitch into a tube. Turn the right way in and voila - ribbon to wrap around and embellish your creations!)

So, armed with your choice of insert - what do you do next? Firstly, like Karen Mitchell (thanks for you input by the way Karen !) glossy finishes are easier to deal with. If you are using something porous, your glaze may change the colour of the item. You can solve this by using a fixative spray (or spray varnish, or even hairspray at a push)

You also need sharp pointy scissors, and some kind of glaze. The mad cows particularly like Sakura Crystal Glaze but Diamond Glaze or similar also works well. Be aware that some other glazes or resins do need a UV light to cure them, so do check first if you don't want to buy extra equipment.

Ok - first use the patera dish as a template and mark around the insert. Using scissors, cut inside the line and test for fit inside the patera pendant. Spray porous pieces with fixative (or test by using glaze on an offcut to see if you are happy with the result)

Once dry, use a smear of crystal glaze to fix the insert in the dish and then apply Sakura Crystal Glaze. To minimise bubbles, do not shake or stir the glaze, just apply directly to the patera pendant. Allow it to settle and then carefully pop any stray bubbles with a pin. Tiny bubbles are often best left to disperse naturally. Leave the piece for 24 hours to set and then check that the surface is smooth. If there are any rough areas (this is where bubbles have set 'on the surface') leave the piece for another 24 hours, then sand lightly, wipe clean, dry and reapply a really thin layer of Sakura Crystal Glaze.

Why not wear your finished pendant on a leather thong ? You could also wrap the thong with your upcycled 'ribbon strips'

I've also had great success using cuttings from charity shop books with blank glass cabochons - you could also use wrapping paper, photographs, pictures, instructions for games... you get the idea! Personalised cabochons are really easy to make and look AMAZING!

Choose your backing and use the cabochon as a template. Cut out with really sharp scissors. To complete the cabochon you need a glue that doesn't bubble, ages well without yellowing and dries absolutely clear. The best choice for this is Hasulith or E-6000 - they are both a very similar formulation. Madcowbeads stock Hasulith because it is a bit cheaper, and we don't think it smells as horrible!

Apply a thin layer of Hasulith to the flat side of the cabochon and stick on your backing paper. Rub with a squeegee or small sponge to make sure it is really well stuck and to get rid of bubbles.

To finish - either apply a few layers of varnish, or glue into a cabochon mount or frame. Once that's all set and secure, fix on your finding of choice! The bigger cabochons look great with a flat pad bail as a pendant and the smaller ones can be fixed onto ring bases

Lastly... remember I said keep the buttons! I have been known to buy garments just for their buttons... For a quick and cute effect, use Hasulith to attach them to these lovely bobby pins or if you have a button stash, pick a couple of co ordinating ones,thread them together with a contrasting thread and use as a cabochon on a ring base. Quirky, quick and fun! My kind of makes...

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