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.
- Daenerys Necklace
- Catherine Necklace
- Junko Necklace
- Shih Ring
- Thetis Necklace
#16 – The Daenerys Necklace
Obviously the inspiration is the character Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons. I was saving her name for a piece that really whispered to me: Hello. I am Daenerys. How are you? … and this necklace did it. It’s a real statement piece. You wear this, and it’s over, you’re basically Daenerys.
It started like this with this great malachite green stone that was kind of curved. I then started searching and found these black chains I bought a long time ago but didn’t wear because they’re so.. boring.
I matched it up with the stone and knew I had a winner, I’d just play around with it a little.
So I started making a base in clay for it:
Then I made those signature power shoulders for the stone, and dug in deep grooves into the clay, which usually screws it up like this:
Then I carefully pat down the edges and smooth them out, with this being the end result.
And this worked out perfectly together:
I then checked to make sure I would make the loop large enough to fit the chain through so I am not angry that it won’t fit… haha!
(Please ignore Little Hobo’s pants in the background. He ruins every pair of pants within a month. There’s no point in buying new ones.)
After it was ready, I started painting it with light green metallic paint:
I finished it..
And I made the back in an emerald green wash:
This is the top part of the necklace, the crystal chain through the loop, and then the chains hanging off the rest of it:
I just noticed a tiny bit of the emerald green is on the edge and I may paint it out because it doesn’t match…
It’s moody and dark…
It’s beautiful and kind of wild.
I really like it. It’s such a nice statement piece.
#17 – The Catherine Necklace
Named for Catherine The Great of Russia, Catherine II born Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst in 1729 until 1796, most commonly known as Catherine the Great, was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796—the country’s longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d’état that overthrew her husband and second cousin, Peter III. Under her reign, Russia grew larger, its culture was revitalised, and it was recognized as one of the great powers worldwide.
I started creating this piece just by wanting the gold melting on the obelisk of the clear crystal, and I shaped the top:
I though it would hang off this rock with chains like this, but it didn’t seem to work for me, aesthetically, so I added gold branches to the side.
And it evolved into this instead, something simpler:
I kept it simple with a vintage gold chain and then to give it some interest and to make it shorter, I knotted it a few times.
It’s simple, but also interesting.
Name for Junko Tabei, the first woman mountaineer to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The story of Tabei’s journey to reach the top of Everest matches her life’s journey: Both were remarkable tales of perseverance in the face of great challenges. In fact, she crawled part of the way up Everest after almost being killed in an avalanche. And that was just for starters.
According to NPR, she later became the first woman to conquer the “Seven Summits,” which means she reached the summit of the tallest mountain peak on every single continent on earth. Among those: Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Alaska’s Mount Denali (then Mount McKinley). She did this while facing gender discrimination in a country where women were often expected to stay at home in that era.
I started with this idea, joining two stones together. I still haven’t given up on this concept, but it was not working for this particular piece. I felt like this looked too much like Christ’s crucified bleeding heart from my youth (you know what I am talking about).
Then I saw this old simple necklace I was using for upcycling pieces where I would create pendants to hang on the chain, but I never used it because the gold U keeps shifting when I put pendants on it or wear it, so I decided to use it for this piece.
To stop it from shifting, I added clay to lock it in…
And then layered this beautiful rock over the top of it.
And it’s done!
I knew I wanted to keep this one simple, unlike my other super large, massive pieces that are huge and basically look like pieces of clothing on their own. It looks much better just like this. Simple and strong just on its own, just like its namesake. The sides are also blue clay, but I did a gold wash all over the blue clay because it looked strange just being a navy blue, and I added a wash to make it all blend in, like the rock was part of the clay.
So I did a gold wash on it:
You can see on the back what the blue clay looked like by itself without any gold wash on it to make it blend in. I left the back as-s and unpainted. I MAY paint it in the future, but I like the way it’s unfinished and raw.
I love the way it looks:
It even hangs a little off-kilter but I sort of like that it can twist off center, on-center.. and it looks different, the way Junko threw everything off-kilter with her determination and persistence.
#19 – The Shih Ring
I made this ring AND KNEW it fit Ching Shih, famous piratess of the China Seas to a T. Ching Shih (or Zheng Shi) was a Chinese prostitute who became a powerful female pirate, controlling the infamous Red Flag Fleet. The fleet grew under her command, with expanding reserves of loot, and an organized system of business. Eventually, Ching Shih sought amnesty when offered by the Chinese government, but not without first negotiating to maintain the riches and power she earned as a pirate lord.
Read more about her here
This is the stone I used:
Here’s Little Bun modelling the ring I made before it was completed, I made clay around the edges, and then the ring out of the clay itself:
This is what it looks like:
I made the sides curve around the sharp edge of the stone, and then I painted it all in gold:
I only painted the outside in gold, the inside is unpainted:
It is extremely light and VERY COMFORTABLE because I moulded it around my fingers perfectly.
Like a golden pirate ship.
It’s exactly what I wear if I were a pirate.
#20 – The Thetis Necklace
I had originally named it for another woman (Boudica), but I changed the chain and made it into this, which made me think: Thetis, the goddess, mother of half-god Achilles. Thetis, in Greek mythology, a Nereid loved by Zeus and Poseidon. When Themis (goddess of Justice), however, revealed that Thetis was destined to bear a son who would be mightier than his father, the two gods gave her to Peleus, king of the Myrmidons of Thessaly. Thetis, unwilling to wed a mortal, resisted Peleus’s advances by changing herself into various shapes. But, assisted by the wise centaur Chiron, Peleus finally captured her.
(Sorry I just realized it’s a bit blurry because Little Bun took the photo)
It started with a stone like this:
It was grey clay but instead of leaving it as a plain piece without any detail, I decided to make scalloped edges (I don’t know what came over me).
It actually ended up as this at the start because I tried to put another chain through it but it didn’t fit (the loop wasn’t large enough),
I really liked this spiky, seashell, scalloped sort of pendant, and knew it deserved better.
Then I pulled out this old necklace I made and wanted to re-upcycle…
And then I saw it come together:
I hooked on an old gold clip from another chain, to loop across the back of the pendant:
A close up on that look – it looks like it’s a swirling mix of the sea, and then this moody scalloped edged stone, dark and moody, standing out in the sea. A mix of soft and hard:
I really love this pendant.
It goes together, but I MAY dab a little black swirly paint on the necklace (drizzled) to have it tie into the pendant a bit more, maybe a black wash of some sort.
So I finally swirled some black paint on there as a wash and it looks way better. It was just too.. bright/green before, and it needed some toning down.
It seems like it’s a little hard to see but the wash of black has toned down the bright green sort of garden-y look of the chain, which ties more in line with the pendant now.
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.
“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.