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.
- Eirene Ring
- Sabina Necklace
- Meilikki Necklace
- Josephine Necklace
- Maya Cuff
#25 – The Eirene
Amethyst is a stone known for balance and peace, and what better goddess to represent that than Eirene? She was one of the Horae, the personification of peace. She was depicted in art as a beautiful young woman carrying a cornucopia, sceptre, and a torch or rhyton. She is said sometimes to be the daughter of Zeus and Themis and sister of Dike and Eunomia. Her Roman equivalent was Pax.
Here’s Little Bun modelling it!
This is what this stone looked like on eBay:
There’s nothing to this ring. I wanted to keep it just as-is, very minimalist, so I found an old ring (a hashtag) I no longer wear, and tacked it on with clay:
Then I painted the clay all gold to make it look like it was a pedestal melting into the stone and supporting it:
I could have done a similar look with this stone as I did with the Shih Ring (pictured here), but for some reason I didn’t want to cover up any of this stone with clay. It didn’t seem to be that type of stone for me.
It’s simple and easy to wear. The ends are VERY pointy however.
#26 – The Sabina Necklace
I made this absolutely with the idea of the 7 blue stones being the continents, and the other 5 circle beads being the oceans. It was a ‘world necklace’, but an abstract one of course. I thought I would name it after an adventurer like Amelia Earhart but once I was done painting it it wasn’t her necklace anymore, it was definitely Vibia Sabina’s.
Sabina accumulated more public honours in Rome and the provinces than any imperial woman had enjoyed since the first empress, Augustus’ wife Livia. Indeed, Sabina is the first woman whose image features on a regular and continuous series of coins minted at Rome. She was the most traveled and visible empress to date. In 128, she was awarded the title of Augusta.
I read about her in this series by Kate Quinn: The Empress of Rome where she begins to make an appearance in Book 3 of the series (going from a little girl to the Empress she became). I loved how much her desire to travel came out of the book, to the point where I saw this necklace and it was meant for her.
It actually started like this on paper. A bunch of stones (only 6, mind you), with three stones, and a pendant:
I added more beads, and played around with the look…
Then I thought: The world. 7 stones for 7 continents. 5 for the 5 oceans.
I was SO SET on this before I started adding the clay…
Once I put in the clay, it started to take on another shape altogether:
And ended up like this instead, where I thought to turn it on its side, have the oceans off to the left with minimal clay, and then the continents on the right, with rivers of gold running through it all in a wash…
It’s beautiful in its ugliness…
I tried to leave some of the blue clay peeking out as well..
From afar, it looks interesting.
#27 – The Mielikki Necklace
Little Bun saw it and INSISTED that I choose something to do with leaves or the woods for it, and once I read up on Finnish forest mistress Mielikki, the name fit the necklace perfectly. Her name means “favourable” and she grants wild game to the hunters, a bit like Artemis!
There’s really nothing to this necklace. I just took one that I had that looked like this:
And I added an old earring from Zara at the bottom to give it something, then lengthened the whole thing to make it hang lower.
I also have a ring made out of this pendant!
The metals matched, the stones matched, the green looks great together. For now, it’s a delicate, pretty necklace.
#28 – The Josephine Necklace
Named after Josephine Baker who wore many hats and did so many different things, from being the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics, to being renowned as a dancer, and was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. Her performance in the revue Un vent de folie in 1927 caused a sensation in Paris. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.
Of course, the bananas were very racist as she was black, and none of that is lost on me, but it was still incredible as a tribute of what she tried to push through as barriers of race.
Most importantly, she was known for aiding the French Resistance during World War II. After the war, she was awarded the Croix de guerre by the French military, and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement.
Read more about her here.
It started like this, Little Bun playing with some stones, organizing them in a row…
And then I thought about this:
Little Bun decided to play with the picture and added some horns to the look, and a happy face!
But it gave me an idea to do this:
Clay on the back to hold things together:
And a row of ‘snakes’ to hold all the stones together:
I thought about changing the necklace too:
But ended up with this:
And the pendant I mixed with some blue and turquoise to make it something less all-sunsetty.
I also added a little gold bead in the corner to add some interest:
In the end I think it’s just.. over the top. I ended up with this and something was wrong:
That space with the triangles seemed too empty, which is why I filled it with the triangles…
So I removed it and it looks much better now:
I like it much better with less.
#29 – The Maya Cuff
The Maya is obviously after Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. I saw the cuff and knew it was hers. It had to be called the Maya. It’s simple, strong and feminine.
I like the striations in the stone, and I kept it very simple on the cuff, because it makes a statement on its own.
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.