Upcycling Project Overview
As a way to create my own jewellery because I admire so many bold pieces from the likes of artists like Adina Mills, I started creating my own items. I use old necklaces, rings and bangles I no longer wear or want, and change them into something new.
All of my items have names of strong women, historical, fictional or otherwise, and this is just a fun hobby for me, which I have started to grow very fond of.
- The Rosalind Cuff
- The Sekhmet Cuff
- The Izanami Necklace
- The Anahita Necklace
- The Amala Necklace
#50 – The Rosalind Cuff
Name after Rosalind Franklin, English chemist who discovered the structure of DNA, this is the perfect necklace for her for obvious reasons.
While working at the King’s College London in 1951, she discovered two types of DNA called A-DNA and B-DNA. Her X-ray images of DNA indicated helical structure. Her X-ray image of B-DNA (called Photo 51) taken in 1952 became the best evidence for the structure of DNA.
I honestly started with a bangle and the idea that I wanted to wrap it in thread. That’s it.
This is what I started with. This bangle was just a basic, thrifted piece that I liked and knew I wanted to possibly paint, but decided to try something else instead:
It ended up like this:
With a needle and thread, this took me an impossibly long time as I do not have floss (thicker thread) but the regular sewing thread:
Countless of quarantine hours spent here….
Ended up with this!
#51 – The Sekhmet Cuff
Same principle as with the cuff above, this was the second piece I tackled (and then proceeded to give up because this one took even longer than the first one).
Named after Sekhmet, the Egyptian warrior goddess of healing and fire, it seemed apt. She is depicted as a lioness. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare. Upon death, Sekhmet continued to protect them, bearing them to the afterlife.
Sekhmet is a solar deity, sometimes called the daughter of Ra and often associated with the goddesses Hathor and Bastet. She bears the Uraeus, which associates her with Wadjet and royalty, and the solar disk.
I had to use a needled and thread to go through each of the holes in the bangle to try my best to cover it in swathes of colour:
This is how it started and how it was going:
I left some parts of the gold sticking out for two reasons:
- It looked nice
- OMG IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO COVER THEM WITH EVEN MORE THREAD
#52 – The Izanami Necklace
Named after Izanami, the Japanese goddess of both creation and death, I do not know why, but I made this necklace, and immediately thought of her (I studied some Japanese mythology when I was younger, during my obsessive anime/manga period).
The first gods Kunitokotachi and Amenominakanushi summoned two divine beings into existence, the male Izanagi and the female Izanami, and charged them with creating the first land. To help them do this, Izanagi and Izanami were given a spear decorated with jewels, named Amenonuhoko (heavenly spear). The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Ame-no-ukihashi (“floating bridge of heaven”), and churned the sea below with the spear. When drops of salty water fell from the spear, Onogoroshima was created. They descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island.
The hanging pendant made me think of the earth they created, with the sea and so on, and the top part represents an abstract version of their jewelled spears with all the pointy parts & the gold bits showing through as the ‘jewels’.
It’s a very simple necklace, just paint used this time, no clay.
I had started with the idea of using the pendant hanging off something and I came up with different versions on paper of what I think it could look like.
This was one, where I paired it with stone and lots of chains:
Then I thought about using the chain as a hanging piece to hold the pendant:
In the end, I scrapped the stone altogether, and hung it off this old gold necklace (it’s very cheap, made out of brass), and painted it to give it interest. Once the paint dried, I scraped off flecks of the paint to reveal the gold underneath, which is a technique I will try again if I come across flat brass like this.
Little Bun helped with all of the colour mixing and painting! He and I really collaborated on this necklace together.
Turned out well I think. I also thought about making the necklace darker, more blue-green-grey like the pendant, but I decided not to dull the beautiful blue paintstrokes and brushwork Little Bun and I worked on, as it is the right colour for the seas/oceans being mixed by Izanami and Izanagi to have created the earth (the pendant) that hung from that.
#53 – The Anahita Necklace
Named after the Indo-Aranian goddess Anahita who represented the Indo-Aranian idea of the Heavenly River who provides the waters to the rivers and streams flowing in the earth while the second is that of a goddess with an uncertain origin, though maintaining her own unique characteristics, became associated with the cult of the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Inanna-Ishtar.
The idea of waters, rivers and streams flowing to the earth fit perfectly with the way the necklace is shaped as an arrow with the streams and rivers wrapped around the top with the stone.
Excuse the rat tail braid….
I started with this very tricky silver arrow necklace. It was cool, but it was so specific, it was hard to find anything to fit with it as I didn’t want to obscure too much of the cool arrow. I finally found this kyanite blue stone cluster I thought would look cool on the side:
Then I realized the necklace was extremely unbalanced because it’s so light that the stone makes it tilt unattractively off to one side. I experimented with an old beaded necklace I made to try and counterweight it.
No luck, the beads weren’t enough weight for the other side, so I decided to make the stone the pendant hanging off the bottom and the beads wrapped around it on top because I liked the combination so much.
This was my initial idea, to have the beads very tightly wrapped on top:
But then it evolved into wrapping the beads a bit loosely around the top to make it look less buttoned up.
At the back, as this is a beaded necklace and not a string, I secured it with some rings to keep the beaded necklace in place and from falling off the top:
And made sure there were no loose parts (I hate it when one necklace part comes off and hangs awkwardly):
I also like the mix of the purple and gold against the blue and green. A surprising favourite.
#54 – The Amala Necklace
There’s barely anything to this particular piece because I just took an old necklace and hung an old earring off it. I named it the Amala because the pair of earrings I upcycled into this necklace and a ring, are the Amala pieces by Stella and Dot.
It’s simple but striking against plain shirts…
I actually bought the earrings thinking they would be a bigger statement piece than they were, but they came so small and delicate, I didn’t know what to do with them.
In the end it all worked out.
STUFF I USED
I used this because I researched everywhere, and it seems like the Professional version is the most versatile of all of them. They have other versions like Soft, and so on, and another brand called Sculpey, but I wanted something that wouldn’t crumble, be strong, and stay solid, and this one seems to hit all of those points based on what I read.
I picked up black, navy blue and champagne for my next round, as colours for clay. I can always change the colours afterwards, but it is better to have a background that is already coloured rather than white, to make my life easier. It’s also easier to have a gold wash on the clay for colour and styling it.
These paints are great. I use them for everything, and I have a whole range of colours. I need more metallic paint however, I am seeing that I will use more of it in future projects.
I also have vintage and old thrifted chains to upcycle that I added to the necklaces and so on.
Statement stones and so on
I hunted a few on eBay and Etsy, and looked for items 3″ – 4″ because I wanted a really BIG statement rock for my pieces but they are quite… expensive, around $30 – $60 per stone, as people use them for healing/chakras, and tend to pay a lot.
The smaller rocks are okay, but you need to add way more clay to make it a bigger statement piece as a result. I am trying a few suppliers but haven’t found any that is “cheap” and of high quality yet. I will share when I do. I have been disappointed in a lot of them so far.
“How do you make them“
I also have a video on it here:
“Are the pieces heavy?“
No. It’s mostly clay you see which is super light. What’s heavy is if the stone is large or if the chains are heavy.
“You’ve ruined the stone with so much plaster“
To each their own. You say ‘ruined’, I say ‘made into art’.
(I literally got this in a comment on the video I did). Also, how do you expect me to put the stone on a chain without plaster to hold it in? I mean.. it’s just not possible.
The chain needs to be on there with a lot of plaster or else it snaps off because there isn’t enough support to hold it on to the stone. Basic jewellery making 101.
“Are you going to sell any of them?“
They’re all kind of like my babies at this point. I mean, I’ve worked hard on them, I’ve painted them, I’ve named them. I don’t know how people sell their creations.
I guess I could make MORE of the same ones that are easy to find in the same stones (simple shapes in quartz), but each one is in the end, quite unique as even some of the chains are vintage or out of stock, or just old pieces from thrifting hunts, or artisans who are no longer selling their work.