This semester I am taking a class called Lost and Found that is all about reusing and reworking materials or components into new pieces. Our first assignment was to select a piece of old, unwanted, possibly ugly jewelry from a pile of stuff to be donated and somehow remake it into something new and fabulous.
I selected a surfer-style shell necklace that had multiple disc-shaped white shells strung together and some chunks or coral and dyed turquoise in the center. Instead of stringing the shells together, I envisioned them riveted to a backplate of some sort. After an intense design session, I decided to create a spinoff of my Floral Chain Maille nekclace.
I punched out a series of nu-gold brass discs, drilled holes, then linked them together using double-balled wires. This has become one of my favorite constructions, not only for the aesthetics but because it is relatively fast and creates a pretty impressive end result. The pieces move like chain maille and drape really nicely against the neck and chest.
As a result of the torch technique required to get the double-balled wire links, I got a really interesting patina on the nu-gold discs. For a while I thought it might be too charred for appealing wear, but I liked it so much I decided to leave it. I waxed the metal to make a nice surface and preserve the patina, then got to riveting. I attached a selection of shells from the surfer necklace I'd originally selected to recycle, then added some black antique trade beads from Mozambique Island that I'd collected on a visit there in 2009.
The final touch was a pair of stud earrings to coordinate with the necklace. I am so excited about this piece. It's really nice and heavy to wear, and I love that the materials are a combination of old/antique and old/reclaimed/recycled plus a new design. This set will likely go into an exhibition at D+H Sustainable Jewelers in San Francisco at the end of our semester.