Up-cycle, Upgrade–Making New Jewelry From Old or Found Pieces

My booty for the fall challenge.  Znetshows has such great beads.

My booty for the fall challenge. Znetshows has such great beads.

I just finished another Znetshows challenge and I cannot wait for you to see what I made. Woot! Woot!  If you like, check out the latest issue of Creative Spark and see all the great jewelry and then come back here for the full story!  I’ll wait for you.

This round was SO much fun.  I really stepped outside my comfort zone.  Usually when I make jewelry I start with a great set of beads and inspiration leads me on a merry dance.  This time, my challenge was to take a found piece or an old piece and up-cycle or upgrade it into a new and fabulous piece of jewelry using some of the great beads from my friends at Znetshows.  Piece of cake–right?  Okay, okay–it was, but I had an unexpected head start.

A few months ago, my friend Sandy had given me some crystal pieces from a chandelier her husband had taken apart.  At the time I had visions of making some earrings and had grabbed some graduated sizes of the crystals.  I didn’t notice at the time they were double-drilled from the top down.  I played around with a couple of styles , but I was not thrilled so I put them away for another project, another day.

I also had another dilemma.  I had made a necklace for a potential new client, but she did not like my choice of pendant, so I was left scrambling trying to find something else that would reflect her style and fit the necklace I had made.  I was not having much luck until my bestie, Susan, suggested we visit a bead store she had found in Decatur, Georgia, called The Bead Shoppe.  What a great store!  What was surprising to me was that I was not drawn to her selection of beads which was pretty terrific.  Instead, I found myself going back to a couple of vintage pieces that I told myself could use in the necklace, but (honestly) I wanted to make something completely new.  See what I found!


This was probably an earring from the 1970s.  I wish I had its twin

This was probably an earring from the 1970s. I wish I had its twin


This was on a necklace and was really nice as is, but I wanted to do something more.

This was on a necklace and was really nice as is, but I wanted to do something more.



When Hope (Craftyhope@gmail.com) sent out this season’s challenge I was ready with these pieces.  Notice that the metals are in good shape.  They were already clean and I didn’t notice any pitting.  Both pieces had places for me to add stones and/or break it down into different components.  That is exactly what I did.  Check it out


Let me show you what I did with the chandelier pieces first.  (Sorry for no before photo–the crystals just don’t show up well in pictures by this amateur photographer.)

Crystallne bug closeup

If it looks like a bug to you, then you’re right!  I love this crystalline bug, fancy enough to wear to any ball.  The graduated size of the crystals worked to my advantage as a pendant. I added some crystal rondelles in olive green and made a necklace of some soft, milky moonstone.  The antennae is a bit of vintage chain and a couple of more of those olive rondelles.


Next up is what I did with the diamond-shaped pendant.

Flower Drop Earrings

I deconstructed the diamond into square units of four flowers.  I wired some of the units together–again using some of the lovely crystal rondelles in olive from Znetshows.  The earrings would not hang quite the way I wanted so I moved some of the floral units around until I came up with what you see above.  They are perfect for every day or night.  I’ve got a few of the flower units left over.  I may make something else with those, too.

Now I saved the best for last.   Drum roll, please!  Ta! Dah!!

70s to 20s in progress

In the magazine, Creative Spark, I made the mistake of taking the picture with the pearl side down.  I really want you to see the glass pearls I wired to the front of the piece.  I removed the spangles and added crystal rondelles in a fire red and more pearls.  The necklace (not shown) is some gold chain with some of the same crystals and pearls added in for interest.  This is a simple yet GLAMOROUS piece.  My photographic skills do not do it justice.

Please make sure you check out this issue of Creative Spark online magazine.  You’ll find these pieces and many more gorgeous items.  I share with you some of my ideas for finding some of these types of great items when you want to turn some of your old, tired pieces into new, wearable art.

My links:

Znetshows:  http://znetshows.com/

Creative Spark Online Magazine:  http://joom.ag/Q8Tb

The Bead Shoppe:  http://www.thebeadshoppeatlanta.com/

And email me:  swash139@icloud.com









Summer Days and Nights

Summer days drifting away

to, uh oh, those su-ummer nights….

If you ever saw Grease you know you’re singing along with me now.  Hopefully YOU are in tune!

It’s time for another ZNetShows challenge and this one was possibly the best yet.  This time around designers got to choose a couple of colors from the array of cultured sea glass in the ZNetShows catalog.  Take a look at all the different choices and you will understand why I had such difficult time selecting only two!  Red, amber, black, green….  I finally focused on the other part of the challenge– to create two different summery looks, one for day and one for evening and finally narrowed my choice down to tangerine and a lovely shade of pacific blue. And I waited to see what kinds of surprises were in store for me.

Here’s a peak at the treasures I got.

Summer challenge Before

I could not wait to get started.  I have so many lovely beads with which to play!


In this challenge I had four looks to create, two for day and two for night.  The purple barrels were a natural choice for me for an evening look, but I wanted to see what I could do first with the tangerine and the blue.

Summer Days

Digging into my stash of beads, I found some turquoise colored African glass seed beads and some seed beads in complementary colors.  My beading buddy, Susan, had given me a lovely, large jasper pendant stone in shades of blues and oranges and  a round orange agate.  From the ZNetShows beads I used the tangerine bottle-lip beads and some of the rondelles.  This necklace almost made itself.

Day look Tangerine Full view

This necklace has an island feel to me.  I could just see this done in bone and shell, but using the tangerine glass (instead of teeth! lol) creates a cute look perfect to be worn with jeans and a t-shirt or even with dressier office wear.  The clasp is a simple hook, made by me, but this piece is long enough to go over your head without unhooking it.  This was my favorite look until….

I picked up the blue beads I got from ZNetShows.  I started playing with some of the beads that are free-form.  I noticed that some were drilled at the top and the bottom and some were just drilled at the top.  I started wiring them together and created a focal for my next daytime look.  I made a necklace using the barrel beads and bone spacers.  As usual I made my own clasp.  Go ahead.  Take a look.  See why it’s my favorite.

Day Set Pacific Blue and Turquoise Bay

The matching earrings use the squares hung vertically.  The picture hides a twist in the wire to give it a little extra interest.

Summer Nights

After I finished the necklace and earrings in the Pacific Blue colors I was almost out of blue beads–not enough to create a full evening look so those purple barrels kept drawing my eye.

I once again searched through my bead stash and found some lovely champagne and amethyst colored crystal faceted rondelles.  This was a sea-glass challenge but ZNetShows has some Chinese crystals in gorgeous colors, too, including champagne!  I made a bar style focal mixing the purple barrels, a couple of vintage amethyst rounds and a rough cut natural crystal in that same shade of gold.

For me, an evening look requires a little sparkle–okay, a LOT of sparkle. Adding the crystals to the matte purple barrels elevated the piece into something perfect for an elegant soiree.  Does anyone have Angelina Jolie’s number?

Evening Look Amethyst


The evening look in tangerine was probably the most difficult to make.  I knew I wanted to add crystals to the pebbles to add glamor and glitz, but I couldn’t find a focal that did those beads justice.  I had some large Chinese crystal nuggets and hexagons so I started playing with combinations before settling on making another bar-shaped focal.  For the necklace I used the pebbles like pearls, finishing out with tangerine rondelles.  This look demands that little black dress where the necklace makes the statement!  Here in the South during summer you will often hear the question “Is it hot enough for you?”  Take a look at my Tangerine Dream  and answer that question!

Evening Look Tangerine


What a fun challenge this turned out to be.  I cannot wait for the next one!  Please let me know in the comments which piece was your favorite.


Please check out the summer edition of Creative Spark, the online magazine that features the creations of all the members of the ZNetShows Design Team.  (I’m on page 42!)  There are some gorgeous creations in this magazine that have already “sparked” my imagination.


ZNetShows :  http://znetshows.com

Creative Spark Summer Edition 2014:  http://joom.ag/55CB

Contact me at swash01@gmail.com











7000 Bracelets for Hope

For the past few months I’ve been fortunate to participate in challenges for ZnetShows.  My last blog was a partner challenge.  This time, the challenge is from the heart.

According to the Global Genes Project there are over 7,000 rare genetic diseases.  Families with loved ones with one of these rare diseases don’t have a large support community on which to rely, and they have the same need for research and development of drugs and treatment processes.  7000 Bracelets for Hope was a campaign to bring recognition and support for these causes.   Bracelets are donated to families in shades of blue, representing “health, healing and faith.”  If you want to know more about the Global Genes Project and 7,000 Bracelets for Hope, then follow the link.

On to the challenge…

For this challenge, ZnetShows generously donated two different choices of blue beads from their catalog.  I chose a navy blue glass pearl in an 8mm size and Sapphire’s Blue mix of Chinese crystal rondelles.  I probably spent an hour online picking out just the right beads.  ZnetShows has SO many beautiful choices.  Fortunately for me, my best beading buddy is also part of this design challenge.  We decided early on to choose complementary beads and share the wealth.  Susan chose a navy blue glass pearl in the 6mm size and some beautiful sea glass rounds –surprise!-also in blue.

The photo is not great, but look at the lovely beads I received.

bluebeadsYou’ll have to trust me and not the photograph.  The glass pearls are simply beautiful–a rich shade of navy.  The crystals have at least three different shades of blue.  I started digging in my stash of silver right after that picture was taken.  This challenge was going to be fun.

My first bracelet uses one of my favorite mediums –chain maille.  I have a stash of shiny aluminum rings that were just crying out to be used in this project.  I made several Moebius rings and connected them to some of the pearls.  A simple charm I made using a pearl and a silver heart finding  completed the look.  I didn’t use much blue for this one–next bracelet would be different, I decided–but I like the look.  What do you think?

chain blue

The next bracelet I mixed more of the heart findings and both sizes of pearls to make a simple strung bracelet.  I made the hook clasp and finished with a bit of chain so that the bracelet will be adjustable in length.  Simple and sweet.    I am on a roll now!

blue heart

shake rattle 1   The bit of chain I used on the last bracelet inspired me.  This past season I’ve seen a lot of chunky pearl-charm bracelets in fashion magazines.  Why not use some of the two different sizes of pearls and wrap them on a simple chain.  This is my favorite bracelet so far.  This bracelet is a fun piece that makes you want to shake your wrist and show off.  Shake, rattle and roll!!

shake rattle 2

Yep!  That bracelet is my favorite.  Oh wait….  There is another contender here.  In pieces I make for myself, I love the look of leather with gemstones.  This look is so versatile.  I took three pieces of 2 mm Greek leather and made end pieces out coiled wire.  Using knots placed at somewhat random intervals to separate groups of wire-wrapped pearls and other charms made from findings in my stash and those gorgeous crystals and cultured SEA GLASS (love it), I was able to get the look of a wrap bracelet.  Did you see my little man in the moon charms?  I LOVE this style.  I may have to make another for myself using beads from my stash.  –‘Course the blue IS pretty…. hmmmm….

leather wrap view 1

leather and charms pic 1

I had time to make one more bracelet.  This time I wanted to use the crystals .  I grouped three together for a subtle ombre’ effect.  I am particularly proud of the hook clasp I made.  This bracelet is pretty and princess-y.  I hope whoever gets this bracelet feels special wearing it.

blue princess

Looking at my photos, I have to laugh a little.  I kept trying to correct the “red-eye” in some of the photos–until I realized it was my reflection in the beads (I was wearing a red shirt).  lol

I can’t end this blog without a final shout out to ZnetShows.  I so appreciate the opportunity to do something I love and give back at the same time.

And, finally, please check out the Global Genes Project.  Think about how alone some of these families must feel, needing research and funding and hope.  Please help in whatever way you can.

Conch Shells!

I love sea glass.

Unfortunately I do not live at the beach.  I’ve never seen real honest to goodness sea glass on any of the beaches I have visited.  Where is that wonderful treasure hiding.

For me–the wonderful people at ZNETShows offered me the opportunity to play with some of their cultured sea glass conch shells.  (Say that 3 times fast– I dare you!)

This is what they sent me:Conch Shells

The picture doesn’t do justice to the colors.  They are so vibrant and rich.

I made earrings with three pairs of the shells, but one pair is still in the “I don’t know if I like it” stage.  I’m still trying to decide what I want to do with the rest.  I think I’ll use fiber.

For the black I practiced my wire skills. I used German beading wire, a nice alternative to sterling silver.  The metal pieces are borrowed from another challenge from ZNETShows.

black conch earrings

The next pair is I added a bit of Byzantine chainmaille to accent the Emerald-colored Cultured Sea Glass.  I think this is my favorite pair.

green conch earrings

If you like the the Cultured Sea Glass, follow ZNETShows on facebook.  They have so many amazing items!  Wait until you see what’s next!