Jewelry Goes Green?

Unless you are living under a rock, you will notice that "going green" is the trendy thing to do and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the buzzwords heard daily and even hourly on occassions.Jewelry is no exception. Jewelery artists are finding all kinds of neat ways to reuse and recycle normal everyday items into fun, funky, and one of a kind art jewelry. Do a search on for "jewelry and recycled" and up pops over 13,000 listings!We've all heard the term recycle, but how many have heard of upcycle? Not me! I just learned this term a few days ago.Wikipedia defines upcycling as a component of sustainability in which the use of waste materials to provide new products. It is generally a reinvestment in the environment. This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials.In other words, rather than the complicated, expensive, messy affair of processing waste into something else, the waste product is used in its original form. In jewelry, the waste product may be gears from an old wristwatch, a Scrabble tile, short stubby pencils with chew marks, or old Barbie doll heads.Susan Lenart Kazmer is one of my favorite jewelry artists employing"trash" and turning it into her gorgeous talisman series pieces. Go spend some time on her site. It inspires me to save all kinds of things that normally would go straight to the dump!In my own attempt at "upcycling", I've been making a few lampwork beads on antique keys. I would love to be able to say I came up with the idea on my own, but somebody else deserves the credit for thinking of it first. I just don't know who.To prep for the bead, the keys are dipped in bead release. Once dry, it is put directly into the flame where I make the bead on the key. Because the key was dipped in bead release, I am able to "release" the bead from the key, clean the release off the key, and the bead is free to slide and turn and be played with by the wearer. I like to leave the patina of old age on the key and just polish it with a little wax.Honestly the keys are beautiful enough to wear on their own, but having that colorful glass bead just add that extra little something. AND I get to use the word upcycling when referring to them. If only I was always that hip about everything....The next blog will cover another hot trend in artisan created jewelry fashion. Stay tuned...



Nice! I've never heard of upcycle either. But it sounds really cool. I might just try that.


Jennifer - thanks for an informative post. I've never heard of upcycling, but am eager to think of more ways to do it with lampwork. I've made a few beads using recycled wine bottle glass, but that's about it. Great blog!

Jennifer Cameron

Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one to never hear of if before. That's interesting making beads with wine bottle glass. Was it very difficult?


It wasn't too tough. First, you have to use a glass cutter (like you use in stained glass) to cut the bottle up. I aim for long strips that are easy to melt in the flame, but it's tough to cut something that's not flat. The glass tends to be pretty shocky too, so pre-heating it in the kiln helps a little. I hold it with tongs in the flame while making the bead.

Jennifer Cameron

Interesting! I will have to give it a shot. Maybe I'll drink a bottle of wine tonight for the sake of making beads. LOL!

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