The Art of Forgotten Things: Creating Jewelry from Objects with a Past

A portion of my treasure box.

When I first learned that The Art of Forgotten Things: Creating Jewelry from Objects with a Past was going to be published this year, I was giddy. I couldn't imagine a jewelry-making book more made for me!

For years I've been hoarding collecting beautiful old things–skeleton keys, pocket-watch cases, buttons, bits and pieces of flashy old costume jewelry, mother-of-pearl buckles, chandelier crystals, scraps of vintage velvet ribbon, old coins from near and far, orphaned shoe clips and clip-on earrings, and rhinestone-studded clasps–relics from a flashier, sparklier time when people dressed up more for dinner than they do now for church.

Sunset Boulevard necklace (that's a chandelier crystal)

Once in awhile I use a piece to accent a mixed-media jewelry project I'm working on, but for the most part, they've all been deemed too precious, too one-of-a-kind to use. I think I'm finally inspired to give them new life and let them shine in mixed-media jewelry designs, now that I've seen The Art of Forgotten Things.

In her introduction, Forgotten Things author Melanie Doerman writes, "As a child, I had a cigar box filled with an odd collection of miscellany: marbles, an old leather change purse that I had used in the first grade, three plastic bears, a wooden canoe carved by my grandfather from the branch of a tree, Cracker Jack prizes, and plastic bejeweled rings acquired from a visit to the dentist." I had a very similar box–I still do–and I bet many of you do, too.

I love the idea of using a button as a clasp!

If you don't–or if you just like to add to it whenever possible–Melanie recommends places to shop for mixed-media jewelry-making treasures. "Fill your treasure box from a variety of sources," she says, "including bead shops, fabric shops, antiques shops, secondhand stores, grocery stores, toy stores, hardware stores, craft stores, yarn shops, stained-glass supply stores, and even the beach."

Oh yes, the beach! Another favorite. I love collecting shells, driftwood, coral branches, and sea glass, the beachcomber's diamond. Here's a portion of a list of pieces Melanie suggests using for such mixed-media treasure jewelry, but truly, anything beautiful or special would work!


  buttons silk flowers dolls and doll parts
microscope slides chandelier crystals paper and letters
lace glitter (oh yes!!) shells
match boxes brass keyholes skeleton keys
metal filigree thimbles old jewelry parts
ribbon and fabric game pieces and dice optometrist's lenses
marbles sheet music sea glass
medals pebbles ticket stubs
Washed Ashore pendant using driftwood and sea glass

It's nearly impossible to go wrong when you're making mixed-media jewelry using treasured pieces–they're all already so unique and beautiful. The only challenge might be how to put them all together. Just use your imagination, Melanie says, because "if it can be sewn, glued, soldered, wired, or otherwise attached, then it can be used in these projects." So true!  

Memory Keeper necklace with a pocket-watch locket

If you'd like to learn more–including tips on what pieces to look for when you're treasure hunting, basic instructions for using beads, wire, crystals, and more with your vintage treasures (along with tutorials on several beading stitches that can be used to incorporate those treasures into jewelry)–plus 15 step-by-step mixed-media projects (with alternative designs to help you see how your own forgotten things can be used in Doerman's projects)–instantly download or pre-order The Art of Forgotten Things!


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