Upcycled Bohemian Bead Bracelets – Made With Memory Wire

Boho bracelet

For ages now I’ve had a stash of beads that have been waiting to be made into jewellery. However, out of the whole box, there’s probably only about ten percent that were bought by me as beads. That ten percent are leftovers from other projects; the rest of them are there because, over the years, some beaded necklace or other has broken. Some of these were from jewellery that I owned myself, and others came from other people’s broken jewellery clearouts, and were given to me because people thought I was the sort of person who cold make use of them. The thing is, I mostly haven’t, because I’ve mostly been making things out of buttons rather than beads. I never really got into the whole “bead” thing. But a few weeks ago, I thought: they’ve been sitting there for years. (And I really mean years – I’ve had some of them for getting on fifteen years now.) They are not achieving anything at all by sitting there in a box. So I sat down and made a small fraction of my bead collection into bracelets.

I’m fussy about bracelets – or, specifically, bracelet fastenings. Obviously, as a person who uses their hands a lot, I need a bracelet to do two things: not get in the way too much, and not fall off. Otherwise I just don’t wear them. But I equally despise the kind of bracelet fastening that always requires another person to fasten it for the wearer. That’s just annoying. So this limits me to the alarmingly small number of secure clip fastenings that are easy to do up and take off with one hand, or elastic bracelets. Or so I thought. All this time I’ve been ignoring one really obvious solution to the bracelet problem: memory wire.

Memory wire is basically a hard steel spring, and comes in a big coil that looks like a slinky toy. To make into a bracelet, you cut off a section of one or two coils, and basically just bead it up however you like. When you put on a memory wire bracelet, it does two things – stretches and bends briefly so you can get your wrist in, before returning to its previous shape when on your wrist. As well as this, it gently moulds around whatever size wrist it finds itself around, so will fit snugly on a variety of wrist sizes larger than its resting size (or will be like a round bangle on smaller wrists).

So, memory wire is what my new collection of boho-looking beaded bracelets are made with. You can get them at the Unexpected Boutique, and also in my Etsy shop.

New Hook Button Earrings in Vintage Colours

When people talk about “vintage” or “heritage” colours – what do they mean? I think it’s usually to do with a muted, soft tone to the colours, which might be because a once-bright colour faded with age, or because the pigments used in whatever times qualify as “vintage” may not have been as bold as some used today.

Thus I make a distinction between jewellery made with “vintage buttons” – anything that comes to me secondhand, and appears to be ten years old or more (sometimes a lot more), I usually class in this category – and “vintage colours”, which might be new buttons, just with a softer tone.

Then again, some buttons may be both at once. And some of my jewellery might be made with a mixture of differently-aged buttons. If things look good together, I don’t usually try to segregate them by age. So in my latest button earring collection, you’ll find new buttons alongside older ones, but the colours are themed according to a vintage palette.

Teal and Coral Button Earrings
Teal and Coral Button Earrings
Wood Flower Button Earrings
Wood Flower Button Earrings
Forest and Rose Button Earrings
Forest and Rose Button Earrings
Champagne and Burgundy Button Earrings
Champagne and Burgundy Button Earrings
Eggshell Button Earrings
Eggshell Button Earrings
Purple, Burgundy and Orange Rust Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Purple, Burgundy and Orange Rust Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Olive and Teal Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Olive and Teal Ombré Button Drop Earrings
Burgundy and Olive Button Earrings
Burgundy and Olive Button Earrings
Long Green Button Earrings
Long Green Button Earrings

Bohemian Upcycled Necklaces

Here are my latest three Bohemian style necklaces – all completely unique and one-of-a-kind items, made with re-used or leftover buttons, beads, chains and assorted bits and pieces.

beachcomber-necklace-2a

‘Beachcomber’ upcycled long necklace, £45, Unexpected Boutique

dragons-hoard-necklace-2

‘Dragon’s Hoard’ upcycled long Bohemian necklace, £45, Unexpected Boutique

riverbed-necklace-1‘Riverbed’ upcycled long Bohemian necklace, £45, Unexpected Boutique

All are hand-assembled, and although I hope to make some more jewellery in this style in the future, each one is very much a one-off. They were created partly out of thrift – using up bits and pieces that were leftover from other jewellery projects, experiments that didn’t produce the right results, and in some cases bits and bobs that I’ve had since my teens and childhood – things that were nothing particularly special or useful but shouldn’t be thrown away. Because: if something can be repurposed, used or appreciated by anyone other than the current owner, of course it shouldn’t be thrown away. Far too much is thrown away, and while these necklaces are hardly even a thousandth of a drop in the ocean when it comes to changing that, I hope they at least symbolise the idea that what might seem like rubbish doesn’t always have to be, and might add to a growing consciousness of re-use and re-purposing being better – at least sometimes – than making something brand new in a factory.

Custom Button Jewellery

I’ve added a new feature to my button jewellery site – my wire button necklaces, bracelets and jewellery sets are now available with customisable colours which you can pick out from my colour palette.

Button Jewellery Colour Palette

First you can select your type of jewellery – you can get just a necklace, just a bracelet, or various different jewellery sets (I’ll be adding a few more variations soon). Then you can pick up to five different colours from drop-down menus, and even select your wire colour if you want to – or you can leave this up to me.

Custom button jewellery set

If you want to discuss the colours in more detail, want more than five colours or a different bracelet or necklace length, I can do that too – just send me an email and I can make further customisations too.

Unique Bright Button Necklaces

UPDATE: These have all been sold now, but you can get “lucky dip” unique, bright coloured necklaces from my new listing here. What’s more, the more you buy, the more you save – great for stocking up on gifts…

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Here are some of my recent bright button necklace designs. Each is unique, made with vintage buttons and multistrand wire. Some of these have already sold, but there are a few left, which are for sale on my button necklaces page.

Two Upcycled Charm Necklaces

…aaaand we’re back. I’ve finished moving house. Not finished unpacking, but all the things have been extracted from the old place and put into the new one.

Because I apparently have unusual priorities, rather than deal with the large pile of assorted items that has gathered in the corner of my new jewellery-making studio (sample: coathangers that I don’t want, an old Swan kettle, some sofa cushions which my mother inexplicably bestowed on me, massive roll of bubblewrap, a collection of Fairport Convention memorabilia, giftwrap, an inexplicable map of Birmingham) I have put some pictures of my latest necklaces onto the internet.

Talking of piles of miscellaneous objects, this is what these necklaces are made from. After I had declared my shops closed after the last Christmas rush, as a little reward for myself, I got out some boxes of old broken jewellery that I’d been hoarding for a few years, spread all the bits out on the floor, and picked out the best bits to turn into new upcycled charm necklaces.

Most of the time, as I’m making a living from jewellery-making, I have to make sure I can make multiples of each piece that I design – otherwise the time I spend photographing, processing and uploading each item becomes too much and can’t make things fast enough. I do make a few one-of-a-kind items, and I’d like to do more of this, but at the moment with the way my shops are set up I don’t get the opportunity very often.

So after frantically making lots of my stock designs over and over for people’s Christmas shopping, I wanted to make something completely different and unique, without worrying about whether I could reproduce anything similar ever again – it was a little no-strings-attached creative break for me.

Here are the two necklaces I made:

bohemian-necklace-bronze-angle-2
bohemian-necklace-silver-angle

Update: both of these necklaces are now sold, but you can check out other unique bohemian necklaces in stock here.

Removing Sellotape Residue from Plastic Buttons

Last summer I bought some lovely, big, green, chunky vintage buttons at a quite amazing button shop called Knopf-Paul, in Kreuzberg, Berlin. (It’s got a huge collection ofbuttons crammed into a shop, with extra bargain bins outside on the pavement – well worth a visit if you’re a button fan in Berlin. The nearest U-Bahn is Gneisenau Straße.)

The trouble was, the buttons were sold stuck to a piece of sellotape to hold them together, and when I got home and peeled them off in preparation for turning them into jewellery, I found the sellotape left a sticky residue behind. I tried using everything I could think of to clean it off: abrasive cream cleaners, alcohol, applying heat (as recommended by several websites), nail-varnish remover. But nothing would touch it. But today I tried a different approach – oil. I used sweet almond oil, because that’s what I had, but I imagine any other kind of vegetable-based oil would work (e.g. olive oil). And it worked! The oil dissolved the residue and it was easy to wipe away.

Here’s how I did it:

Cleaning Sellotape Residue from Plastic Using Oil

1. With a soft cloth, rub oil onto the sticky area. Clean off as much as you can.

2. Leave a layer of oil sitting on the affected area for a few minutes, to dissolve any leftover bits. Go and make a cup of tea or something, while it does its thing.

3. With a clean bit of cloth, rub off remaining oil and sticky residue. It should be gone, but if there is any left, repeat steps 1 – 3 until it’s all gone.

4. Wash off the remaining film of oil using regular dish detergent and water.

5. Leave to dry on a clean, dry cloth.

Here are two buttons, before and after:

The back of the button on the left is covered in sellotape residue, despite having been attacked with all kinds of alcohol, cleaning products and acetone. The button on the right has been rubbed with oil, and is residue-free – it just has a few marks and scratches that you might expect from a used, vintage button.

Teapot Charm Bracelets

To match the teapot necklaces, I’ve made a set of three different teapot charm bracelets. They’re available in pink, brown and blue, teal and white, and multicoloured:

teapot-charm-bracelet-pink

teapot-charm-bracelet-tealteapot-charm-bracelet-hearts

 

You can purchase any of the above bracelets, and matching necklaces at the Unexpected Boutique, here.

Teapot Jewellery

Here is a new collection of teapot jewellery from the Unexpected Boutique: a teapot necklace, which features an entire tea set made up of different teapot, teacup and teaspoon charms:

teapot-necklace-turquoise-detail

… and there are teapot charm bracelets to match:

teapot-charm-bracelet-teal

The teapot bracelets and necklaces are made with silver plated chain and findings, and both have adjustable sizes so they will fit most people. The necklace has an extension chain, and the bracelet is a stretch charm bracelet, so not only will it fit well, it’s also really easy to take on and off – no fiddling with difficult bracelet catches.

Browse the full teapot jewellery collection here.

P.S. If you enjoy tea, and also like kittens, this website might be of interest.

Button Notebooks and Other Things

In a new section on my button jewellery site, I have a few one-off bits and pieces available, including some button notebooks:

button-notebook-brown-2 button-notebook-rainbow-2

 

I bought these two notebooks new, a long time ago, but they have never been used. I’m having a clear-out at the moment, and I considered just giving them away, but then succumbed to my usual habit of covering everything in my path in buttons…

Note: these two notebooks are now sold.However, you can contact me directly if you would like me to make one for you as a bespoke order.