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.
- Billie Bangle
- Tina Ring
- Lilith Necklace
- Sojourner Necklace
- Gloria Necklace
#30 – The Billie Bangle
Named after songstress Bille Holiday, I saw it and knew it was hers.
Billie Holiday is considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer for many years before she lost her battle with substance abuse. Also known as Lady Day, her autobiography was made into the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues. In 2000, Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Read more about her here.
The darkness to the left of the bangle represents her struggle with substance abuse, a small part of her lasting legacy – the rest of the beautiful, bluesy, jazz music she is known for.
It was pretty easy to create – just a stone, clay, baked onto the bangle.
#31 – The Tina Ring
Named after Tina Fey, one of my favourite comedians of all time, having watched her on 30 Rock (working on my night cheese!)… it screams Tina to me because it reminds me of her. Bold, loud, and unafraid.
It started with this pendant I never wear…
And I just did a simple clay base and tipping:
I let Little Bun paint it and I love the kind of gold wash he created on the grey clay. It was so soft and pretty, I left it just as it was.
You can see some of the grey peeking out, which I love.
30 Rock, indeed. I even like the kind of odd gold pendant piece sticking out to the right, as I feel it represents her quirky side (it’s the night cheese!)
#32 – The Lilith Necklace
Named after Lilith, the first wife of Adam in the Garden of Eden who refused to take his BS and wanted to lay with him AS HIS EQUAL. She was cast out because of this audaciousness, and the minute I made this necklace, I knew it had to be hers.
It started like this – just playing with beads and items. I started with the necklace, added some gold branches, and then a brass U where I wanted to hang a rose gold pendant (also never worn) by Michael Michaud, a fantastic jewellery designer who creates botanical pieces.
I fit it all together and then painted the brass U in mixed paints of green and flecks of gold to represent the garden, and added a bead in the middle.
I love the way it turned out. The branches for the garden, the rose, it’s all exactly the way it should be for a necklace celebrating Lilith.
I like how the paints mixed together for the U shaped horseshoe, and I glopped the paint on so thickly that I ended up being able to press it into a textured pattern…
Very proud of this one.
#33 – The Sojourner Necklace
“Ain’t I a woman”, Sojourner Truth actually did NOT speak like that in her speech, like an uneducated rube, and delivered a passionate, eloquent, speech which they twisted to be unsophisticated because she was black, and they felt the need to push her down.
It actually started like this, with an idea for a black stones at the bottom but that fell through.
I re-imagined it as something a little simpler. I made the inside necklace to represent Sojourner’s slave beginnings (dark, black chains for the dark history), and what she accomplished as a civil rights activist and when Truth learned that her son Peter, then five years old, had been sold illegally by Dumont to an owner in Alabama. With the help of the Van Wagenens, she took the issue to court and in 1828, after months of legal proceedings, she got back her son, who had been abused by those who were enslaving him. Truth became one of the first black women to go to court against a white man and win the case.
All represented by the white stone of truth (the drusy) of what she stood for and a testament to her life.
It is one of the simplest necklaces I’ve made and the most powerful.
Named for Gloria Steinem, an American feminist journalist and social political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Steinem was a columnist for New York magazine, and a co-founder of Ms. magazine. In 1969, Steinem published an article, “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”, which brought her to national fame as a feminist leader.
Read more about her here.
It just seemed to fit her. It’s a piece that makes me think of Gloria and the work she did as a feminist, advocating for the rights of women.
I imagined it exactly like this, and it is how it turned out once I put it all together:
I just liked all of the colours going together — yellows, copper, red, burgundies…
I added one layer of a copper mesh just below the necklaces to tie it all together:
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.