Tag: jewelry

Thrift Store Round Up

I haven’t bought much at thrift stores lately. Working full-time has left me with minimal time to browse and space constraints means that even if I find something cool I don’t have anywhere to put it anyway! However, in the last 4 months or so I have still managed to find some things:

Overgrown Quarry by William Thon (1906-2000) an abstract lithograph, check out his biography from The Caldwell Gallery.

Lithograph Thon

I would love to re-frame it eventually, I don’t think the brown mat is doing much for it. It’s hanging across from my headboard, so I see it very often. The abstract-ness of the cracked leaf-vein like patterns have worn off and now I see very defined trees and the walls of the quarry, and the cuts into the rock.

Lithograph Thon 1


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Creating a Cameo Pendant from an Old Brooch

Vintage Cameo Brooch Refashion

I picked up this little vintage cameo brooch for less than a dollar second-hand forever ago. I don’t wear brooches… and rarely  wear gold, but I liked the cameo. I have always thought cameo’s were lovely, I think I had a porcelain doll with a tiny cameo when I was very little perhaps that’s why. In any case I got around to re-fashioning it the other day when I saw that the Vintaj line of natural brass findings were on sale at Hobby Lobby.

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How to Create Earring Hooks

I’ve found some cool jewelry at thrift stores in the last few weeks. This bangle was $4 and I love the distressed look of it:

Thrift Store Cuff

I also bought these chandelier/fish lure looking earrings, they make the prettiest chiming sound when they move:

Brass Dangle Earrings

Lastly the real subject of this post, I bought these vintage stone clip on earrings:

Clip on Earrings Redo

I have no idea how anyone could wear clip on earring for any amount of time, they hurt! Plenty of jewelry stores and craft stores sell earring hooks pre made and ready to use. However, if you already have the supplies it takes no time to make replacement wires.

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How to Make a Bow Ear Cuff

As you might have noticed, ear cuffs have been super trendy lately. I’d seen tons and tons of pictures all over the web of wire cuffs with bow, but no tutorials. So I thought I would add my version of instructions to the information highway.

For this project you need to make this cuff, and add the wire bow to it. Stop before bending the cuff blank into shape, so it is easier to attach the bow. Here are all the supplies I used: 1 black 20 gauge cuff blank, 26 gauge gun-metal colored wire, wire cutters, round nose pliers, and a pen to shape the cuff.

UPDATE: If you like this tutorial check out my newest one here: Pearl Wire Wrapped Ear Cuff.

A Little Ear Cuff Tutorial

This ear cuff, like the first one I posted about (read that post here) is very basic, and requires only a few tools and supplies to make. Ear cuffs can be fitted to anywhere on the outside of the ear, without a piercing. I use 20 gauge jewelry wire, wire cutters, round nose, and flat nose pliers, plus a pen to form the wire into the cuff shape.

I know this is simplistic to the point of not being interesting. However, this cuff is the jumping off point for my next jewelry post about how to make a wire bow cuff, and that will be awesome.

UPDATE: If you like this tutorial check out my newest one here: Pearl Wire Wrapped Ear Cuff.

A Mini-Recycling Project: a Lone Earring Into a Ring

About 3 years ago I bought a pair of faux pearl earrings, I think from Forever 21. I only wore them a few times and then let them languish on my jewelry tray for a couple of years. A few weeks ago I rediscovered the pair, but only wore them 3 times before one fell into the furry clutches of:

So I found myself with a single pearl earring. I usually save that sort of thing for later projects, but in this case I already had the supplies on hand to turn it into a ring. This is a really really easy mini-project, scroll through the pictures below to see how I made my sad lone earring into a lovely new ring.

My ring blanks are from Joann, and so is the shell button I used on the second ring. The little pearl in the second ring is real, and came from another lone earring, it already had a flat side so no sanding was necessary. One tip I didn’t take a picture of: If it’s hard to hold onto the pearl while filing it down, wrap one end in masking tape to give yourself something to hold onto. I love my new ring, I’ve been wearing it all the time.

Make Your Own Simple Wire Ear Cuff

I had never heard of ear cuffs until about a week ago. The concept is simple, a metal cuff that adorns the outside of the ear without a piercing. Cuffs range from plain wire like the one I will be showing you how to make, to intricate cuffs that have beads, chains, etc. Here are a couple of cool ones from around the web (click the picture to go to the origin page):


It’s not hard to find at least one ear cuff you like no matter what your personal style is. Below I go through how to make a very simple wire cuff, from there you can experiment with all sorts of different ideas.

Here is the finished ear cuff I made, I takes about a minute to complete once you get the hang of working with wire. I used 20 gauge black jewelry wire, flat nose pliers, round nose pliers, wire snips, and a ruler. It’s possible to do this without round nose pliers, they just make forming the loops easier. It’s also important that whatever pliers you use, they don’t have ridges, since they could mar the wire. This ear cuff, like most, is flexible and can be placed wherever you like on the ear. So without further ado there is my…

Simple Wire Ear Cuff Tutorial:

That is all you have to do, it takes no time and it’s hard not to just keep making them. I love this style of ear cuff, it looks good with everything. These are so fun to make, I want to experiment with adding some dangling chains. Good luck making your own. Any questions? Just leave me a comment.

UPDATE: If you like this tutorial check out my newest one here: Pearl Wire Wrapped Ear Cuff.

Nail Polish Cabochon Jewelry, Part 1

In a whole ordeal that is only vaguely related to this post, the other night I found myself searching the web for metal ring blanks. I haven’t found one I liked yet but I did find this:

Aren’t they beautiful! The picture is from icefrostdiary.com, click the picture to go to the post. These are super easy to make, usually you see them made into rings but you could adapt them into pendents or earrings or even cool fridge magnets. Here are two of my finished ones:

To begin you need clear flat marbles or cabochons. Cabochon is a jewelry term which technically applies to stones that have been polished smooth as opposed to being faceted. However, the term is often applied to a number of substances like glass or ceramic to describe a smooth, polished “gem” in jewelry making. Anyway these are the ones I used:

These were already in my possession, but you can buy them at craft stores generally in the floral section or online through jewelry making supply sites. The cabochon’s that are available for jewelry making purposes are higher quality and I think would be easier to do this project with. My marbles were irregularly shaped, cloudy, and some had bubbles, but I think they turned out well enough.

I used a bunch of different types and brands of nail polish, from $8 bottles of Essie to the little Bon-Bon bottles from Wal-Mart that are $.97. It takes some experimentation to get the effects you want, but the nail polish will wipe off the glass with acetone so you can do lots of practicing.

So to begin, paint on a layer of clear coat on the flat side of the cabochon, mine was OPI’s base coat.

Next I used a Sally Hansen glitter polish, as a rule of thumb it’s best to work with the most transparent polish to the most opaque. Crackle polish looks good as a second layer or depending on the look you want as a third or fourth layer too. The next layer I did on this marble was a crackle coat, mine was from Avon.

For the next layer on this marble I used another glitter coat, this one is from Essie.

The next layer was the last for this marble, it doesn’t matter how many layers you do. I like to end each marble with an opaque coat, it rounds out the colors nicely.

Below is a picture of a bunch of my finished marbles, it’s addicting to try different patterns. As you can see I tried a bunch of effects.

Of the smaller marbles, some of my favorites were the three below. You can really see the difference of using the crackle coat at different times. On the left it was the third coat after two layers of pink glitter. On the right it was the first layer with a blue opaque coat after that.


As you could sorta see in my first picture of the clear marbles, some of mine had a matte finish. Here is a before and after shot of them:


I love the dark red one, it looks like a matte ruby. The green ones look darker in the picture than they really are, I painted them with an Avon color that looks very similar to the color I use for my Zounds header.

Like I mentioned, making these is extremely addicting, it’s impossible to make just one. I want to make the ruby-red one above into a ring, possibly with rhinestones around it. For the others I’m not sure what they will end up as. I’ve looked all over for nice ring blanks, but the ones Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Joann carry are all the cheapest of cheap plain metal. I think I’ll end up purchasing some cool ones online instead, which you will surely read all about in part 2.

Spoon & Fork Rings

Exactly how silverware rings first came to exist is a mystery. Although many people think that in Medieval Europe poor servants stole away pieces of their masters flatware to make into wedding rings. I’ve also read sailors did the same with silver from their ship. In any case, these rings have been made for centuries. In the 70’s utensil jewelry had a great resurgence, and continues to be popular today.

I found the idea to make rings out of flatware through Pinterest. This overview image of the process, from More Design Please, has been all over that site. Do you ever feel like everyone on Pinterest is pinning ideas, but not trying them? I’ve seen that same image on how to make one of these rings a thousand times, but never another person’s attempt. Anyway, the original tutorial on how to make these rings comes from the blog Through the Front Door, check out that post here. It takes a couple of practice tries to get a nice ring, so don’t use your grandmother’s heirloom silver on your first attempt.

For this project you will need:

Flatware which is either sterling silver or silver plated, stainless steel is not suitable, because it is too hard to bend. From what I have read sterling silver is the easiest to work with, but can be hard to find for cheap. I used silver plated pieces, some of which I found for 10 cents, and others for $1 at various thrift stores. When looking for pieces, remember that the thinner they are, the easier they will be to bend. This is why butter knifes, serving spoons, and the like aren’t used, they’re just too thick.

Metal saw or snips, my husband sawed through the first few spoons for me, but I later used heavy-duty snips to score a line where I wanted the cut, and was able to bend the spoon head so broke off at my line.

Sandpaper or metal file, to polish the cut end. If you accidentally score the silverware during bending, use sandpaper to smooth it out as well.

Butane torch, and butane. I bought the same one that was featured on Through the Front Door. It was $7 at Home Depot, and extra butane was $3. If you have a heavier duty torch, that will work too, just be careful not to melt the silverware!

Ring mandrel, which a metal tool used to shape rings. You can also use a dowel or socket that is close to your ring size as an aid in shaping your silverware.

Rubber mallet, to aid in the shaping of the ring. A regular hammer wrapped in several layers of leather scraps or a thick dishtowel, and secured with a rubber-band will also work.

Pliers, ones without ridges are better since they won’t leave indents on the silverware. I wrapped leather scraps around the ends of the ones I used.

Protective gloves, if you have them use welding gloves, if not, thick work gloves will protect your hands while heating the silverware.

Here are some of the pieces I used, all were silver plated:

I also had another fork in the same pattern as the one on the far right, and two other spoons… all of which are now a tangled mess:

The procedure I followed that worked well and resulted in a nice shaped ring:

1. Measure the finger you want to wear the ring on, use paper like Through the Front Door did, or string.

2. Use your finger measurement to mark on the utensil where the cut will be.

3. Either saw the top off the utensil or score the mark deeply with snips, then bend the top until it breaks off at the score line.

4. Sand down the raw edge:

5. Hold the tip of the utensil with pliers, and apply heat with the torch. Use gloves, as the pliers are likely to heat up as well. I applied heat for around 20 minutes, since in my past attempts the metal did not become pliable with lesser exposure. If you are using a heavy-duty torch, the time to heat it up will be considerably less.

6. Douse the metal in cool water. I ran cool water from my tap over the metal, still held in the pliers. Here is my spoon after heating and cooling, as you can see the finish has changed colors:

7. Once the metal is completely cool, hold both ends with a set of pliers, and shape. I used a wooden dowel slightly larger than my ring size, so I could adjust down when I had the proper shape. I made my ring overlapping, you can also make it spiral up the finger, as shown on Through the Front Door.

8. Sand down any roughness, or scratches, and polish.

It takes some time to perfect your technique. I tried to bend them without heat at first but they wouldn’t curve nicely, they stayed very angular. I also tried to bend the metal while it was hot. However, the utensils tended to break at their thinnest point. I think because the metal was cooling unevenly, creating stress points. Once you find a system that works for you, it only takes a few dollars and a few minutes to create a lovely piece of silver jewelry, good luck!!

Letterpress Tray Jewelry Organizer: Update

One of my most popular posts ever has been my letterpress tray jewelry organizer. The concept wasn’t mine, do an image search and there are pages of examples. It’s a beautiful way to display jewelry, and since I’ve used it now for about 6 months, I wanted to do a little update to tell people how it has worked out. I always wonder if people actually use their do it yourself projects, or if it turns out it only looked good in the pictures.

I moved my entire jewelry collection to the tray, and it’s great to be able to see all the pieces at once. On the downside though, it gets very dusty every couple of months, and to throughly clean it the jewelry has to be removed.

I have used this time to go though my jewelry, and remove any that I no longer wear, and separate pieces that need repair or cleaning. I also found that if I don’t wear the scarves often enough, they need to be rotated so creases don’t form around the hooks.

Other than that I’ve loved the transition to my letterpress tray. I would advise anyone who wanted to make/buy a similar one, this concept works best with a jewelry collection that is fairly stable. If you are constantly adding new pieces, it would be hard to get each new piece to fit and be accessible on one tray. Another thing to consider, if you don’t wear jewelry much the pieces will get just as dusty as their holder over time.

So in conclusion, the letterpress tray jewelry organizer isn’t just a cool idea that everyone online has jumped on and tried. It’s practical, and it’s beautiful.


Here it is looking very eclectic on my very plain bedroom wall:

Letterpress Tray Jewelry Organizer

Here it is! My finished redo of the letterpress tray I bought second hand a week or so ago. It was my second letterpress tray find in less than a month. I also bought this one, but I don’t know yet what I will do with it. Anyway it was a very easy transformation here are the before pictures:

To begin I washed the whole thing with a damp rag, it was very dusty and grimy. There were several broken pieces and rough spots. I broke out the damaged areas and sanded them smooth.

I also broke out several planks to make custom cubbies for specific pieces of jewelry. I wanted a variety of different storage options for my jewelry so I bought tiny eyes for earrings, small hooks for necklaces and thin bracelets and also large coat hooks for scarves/purses. The biggest problem I ran into when attaching the hardware was how thin the separator planks were. I couldn’t screw the eyes in all the way or they would poke through and I couldn’t uses the hooks anywhere but in the thick outer frame. After rummaging in my craft drawer I used leftover upholstery tacks in the thin planks for when I wanted necklaces and bracelets lower on the tray.

It’s difficult to decide where to put the eyes, tacks and hooks, when there are almost endless options. I wanted to make sure I had a good place for all the jewelry I already own plus extra room for the collection to grow. So I drew up a plan for the tray and installed 5 or so pieces of hardware at a time. Occasionally I would put the jewelry on it and see where I needed more hardware, and mark where to put in on the plan. When I had a space for all my jewelry I went through and added extra space for future acquisitions.

After I attached all the hardware I took a damp rag dipped in black acrylic paint and “inked” up the tray to give it a deeper weathered appearance and to darken the areas where I broke out planks. Then I took a paintbrush and blackened the corners of many of the cubbies to add deeper shadows to the tray. I love how it turned out, a beautiful mix of vintage wood, a piece of printing history, shiny hardware and pretty jewelry.

Here it is one more time:

UPDATE 2/28/2012: I’ve written an update post about using this letterpress tray organizer read it here.

Vintage Fabric Score & Letterpress Again

Another trip to the thrift store and more sweet vintage finds:

About 15 yards of beautiful vintage medium weight home decor type fabric, great find but I did have to fight for it. I was standing looking at the row of fabric with this elderly woman next to me. I grab a corner to feel the weight and texture, she grabs a corner. I look at the price she looks at the price. I take it off the hanger and she grunts at me and walks away. I win! Anyway it’s gorgeous fabric with a tan grass pattern and golden-yellow leaves on a navy field. I however won’t be needing any home decor fabric for a while… no sense in making curtains or shades for a rental.

So I am selling it in one yard increments on Etsy.com here’s the link.

I also found this:

I know pretty freakin’ sweet huh? Only $3.99, it’s not perfect but it’s large and it’s got its original drawer pull. I think it must have been donated from the same person that donated the last one I found at this thrift store, just seems like too big of a coincidence.

I have already started working on making it the ultimate jewelry storage center. Like these: