Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vintage! We all love vintage!

Let's talk vintage! I've been collecting vintage jewelry forever. I love old books, the way they feel compared to books printed today. Plus, they're just gorgeous to have around the house. I also have a weakness for little cat figurines (suprise), small white vases and footed compote bowls. I went through a phase where I only carried vintage handbags, especially frame bags from the fifties. A friend of mine in college came to pick me up one day, and I had this two foot long gold clutch bag. I was probably wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but that was my handbag of the day. He said, "We're not going to the opera, darling." Ah, well. . .

One of the great things about making jewelry is that you can take broken or abandoned jewelry and make it into something new and useable and beautiful. The little shamrock coat of arms in the picture above was in a bag of vintage chain that I bought. The poor thing was hanging from a broken key ring, and, at one time, had something adhered there in the center shield-shaped area. Well, whatever that was came unstuck, and it was a sad looking bit of junk when I unearthed it, let me tell you. So, I added some vintage watch parts and gears, strung it with some lovely Czech crystals, and made a one-of-a-kind pendant. It's kind of beautiful now, if I must say so myself. And I saved it from going to the landfill to boot.

There's a thin line between vintage and garbage, I suppose. I set up at an antique farm toy show every April. I know, it sounds like a strange place to hustle jewelry, but I always make a mint there. These farm fellows come in and drop $800.00 on an antique John Deere toy tractor. The toys are interesting, but way expensive. I don't get it. However, they can't exactly object when their patient wives linger at my table and want to spend $30.00. I never knew how valuable or collectible these tractor toys were. If I had somehow ended up with some, I don't know that I wouldn't have just given them to the neighbor boy or set them out by the curb. To me, they wouldn't be desirable. To these farm fellows, they're worth hundreds of dollars. If they saw the vintage and antique stuff that I have, they would probably just shake their heads and call the auctioneer.

The same with broken vintage jewelry, or any broken jewelry. There's almost always a finding or beads or chain that can be salvaged and repurposed. Very seldom does it turn out to be a total loss. Vintage handcut crystals are a joy to behold. Nothing sparkles like them. Vintage lucite beads and bakelite. Lovely old skeleton keys. Sweet little charms. Rhinestone pins with broken closures. The pieces and parts of vintage watches are one of the key elements of steampunk. Most old watches are not worth much in their entirety, but those pieces are too wonderful to just throw away.

There's something wonderful about taking these little shiny discarded bits that look worthless to most people, and were probably destined for the dumpster, and pairing them with new beads and findings to make an entirely new necklace or bracelet. Just as it's fun to wonder who might have owned the jewelry before, where the lady went while wearing the crystal necklace. The history of the piece.

Maybe my vintage gold purse has been to the opera. Or Madrid. Or who knows where. Just like the antique toy tractors brought joy to knows how many little ones. And the broken crystal necklace, or the lovely length of vintage silver oval chain, or the little shamrock coat of arms that used to be a lucky keychain? Their timelines almost came to an end. Then, I scooped them up, cleaned them off, and used them for something new. A history and a future.


  1. I can't disagree with that... plus there's just something exciting about going through a bunch of old junk at a garage sale and finding that one piece that you KNOW can be something special.

  2. I love the thought that your purse may have gone to the Opera or Madrid. Our items sometimes live fabulous lives! :0)