Enter Our Spring Cleaning For Your Jewelry Contest!

Above: Sunflower Bracelet Kit in rose.

Below: Sunflower Bracelet Kit in blue.

The signs of spring are definitely in the air! And despite the temperatures that still fall into the too-cool-for-my-tastes range and the wool socks that feel as though they haven't left my feet since October, I'm thinking about ways to freshen up my life to welcome the arrival of another glorious spring!

And it's not just my house that's going to get the spring cleaning treatment this year — I'm going to start digging through my old jewelry, finding pieces that I haven't worn in a while, and figure out how I can recycle or upcycle them into new beaded jewelry creations. I've always loved doing jewelry-making makeovers using vintage jewelry that's a little bit broken or might need some love, and I think it's a great way to use beads that you already have, saving money and energy.

Do you have a great tip for recycling jewelry? Do you love to use old, broken vintage jewelry to create new designs? If you have some great ideas for recycling jewelry, we want to hear them! Leave a comment on this blog here on Beading Daily, and our panel of judges will pick one winner from the best tip we see. The winner will receive a Sunflower Bracelet beading kit in their choice of rose or blue, plus a copy of Stitching With Shaped Beads: 10 Beaded Projects to Make With SuperDuos and Twins.

To enter the contest, leave a comment below and share your spring jewelry recycling tip. At 11 a.m. Eastern time on April 7, 2014, our panel of judges will pick one winner for best tip from the entered comments.  Check back on April 7 to see if you’ve won.  The Contest begins on April 4, 2014 and ends April 7, 2014. Due to the variety of rules regulating contests worldwide, we can only select winners from entrants that are U.S. residents (excluding Puerto Rico), 18 years old or older at the time of entry; and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec).View full contest rules.

Good luck and happy spring!

Bead Happy,


P.S. Need some inspiration? Here are some of my favorite recycled jewelry blogs from Beading Daily!

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Beading Daily Blog
Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

61 thoughts on “Enter Our Spring Cleaning For Your Jewelry Contest!

  1. When I am working with vintage beads, the first thing I do is take the old item apart and set all the beads out in piles. This removes the old look and allows the creativity to begin in a new fashion. Sometimes I take apart several similar colour pieces so that I can intermingle the beads and see what will work together. This usually gets things going but if I need further inspiration I browse the hundreds of pictures on the internet. A little of this one, a little of that one and before I know it, I have ideas for a whole new wardrobe of spring jewels. Gayle Dyck (DragonflyCrossStitch@gmail.com)

  2. I use leftover bead woven components as focal or accent touches on my bead embroidery. If I have a pretty beaded flower that never made it into a bracelet or a necklace, it’s great fun to stitch it down to my foundation and bead embroider around it! AND, you don’t have to cut things up to use them! 🙂 Nancy Dale @ nedale67@aol.com

  3. We all have those UFOs (unfinished projects) and sometimes they are projects that just don’t work out but are made out of amazing beads and really beautiful color palettes. I disassemble those projects and bag up the beads in small clear baggies. Then I throw those projects in a fishbowl and when I find a lovely button, pendant or other element at a garage sale I dig through the fishbowl to find an already assembled colorway that works well with the element. This saves time trying to put all those tiny beads back into the right tube or string and it saves money because I already have most everything I need to design a project. It also helps with cleaning up the mess because a large pet store fishbowl has a flat side that fits snug against the wall and keeps the projects contained neatly while enabling me to see all the pretty beads.

  4. I use old earrings and make pendants with them and use them for wire-wrap rings and even bracelets. You can also use the old clip on earrings also and with a little wire you can make anything. I also go to garage sales and flea markets to look for old earrings and other jewelry just for this purpose.

  5. # 1 – I like to have a Krylon 18K Gold Leaf Pen handy and use it for color repair on found vintage pieces so I can make them into something new.

    #2 – I also use Elmers Acrylic painters pens in Silver, Gold, and other colors for repair or just to color my filigree or vintage pieces to make a new project and I always coat the paint with Vintaj Glaze for Metal Sealer and Patina Extender.

    #3 – I sand and ruff up some pieces and paint them with nail polish and then seal them also.

    Thanks Janice

  6. #1 – If a item does not sell in my shop after a while I will re-purpose it into a new project and then I always have a revolving door of new items to sell and I have used up the beads so they are not just collecting dust for the next need for an odd bead.
    #2 – I also save my seed bead containers to use to hold needles till they are needed again.

    I could go on and on but it’s time to use these tips.
    Happy Beading

  7. I have a marvelous stash of odd pieces of vintage jewelry, some broken and some just hanging out. I use pins as a decoration for my curtain tiebacks. But most recently when working on an altered book journal, a wonderful starburst aquamarine brooch came to mind and was the perfect match for the book’s cover. You can check it out here.

  8. Recently, while cruising Pinterest, I saw a pendant made with a buckle. Idea! Then, while beginning to spring clean, I found an old pair of sling back shoes with tiny gold buckles on the straps. The soles were broken, so the shoes needed to be discarded. I saved the tiny buckles and will be making a set of matching buckle pendants for earrings. It is so much fun making beaded jewelry from items that are no longer used or are broken.

  9. One of my favorite finds is often overlooked and yet so easy to convert into something handy. I am talking about old fashioned clip on earrings. They make an awesome clasp, connector, a great way to lengthen a piece, and for an “add a pendant” they are super slick, super easy! Sometimes they can be used just as they are, attached to your finished piece with bead stitching or jump rings, sometimes taken apart and reassembled more directly into a design. Vintage rhinestone pieces are some of my favorites and the added bonus is you dont have to find these in pairs for them to be uber helpful!

  10. i love to find the “old” projects that didn’t get finished, the contest pieces that were started and then abandoned (usually out of frustration..lol.). i go through all of my newly purchased bobbles to find which may complete the project with no thought at all, as if they were meant to fit together. i don’t have any more vintage materials, they were used long ago when i first started making jewelry. for a while i would purchase vintage pieces from flea markets but those pieces never really told me their story and i didn’t have as much luck recreating with them.

    the greatest part of spring cleaning is to find all the new shapes and sizes of beads that i purchased on sale and putting them to good use making new pieces. i have to say that i am in love with the newest shapes,, some of them actually making me think of vintage pieces of projects from the past.

  11. I had a set of white slant cut seed beads, (looks like bone)consisting of a 6 strand vintage 40’s necklace and a pair of twisted woven post earrings. One string was broken on the necklace, I took it and made a 3 strand bracelet, which I then wove the 3 together. The necklace I took and tied the middle of the strands into a loose knot. Then the earrings , I took them apart, and am going to put them in a several string dangle, on a hook instead of post. Joanne Braden

  12. I always seem to have two things around. Clasps that are worn or just not as pretty as I thought they’d be and odd earrings, some very old.
    I just clip off any of the earring back that I can and glue or solder it to the newer, but ugly clasp. One of a kind clasps.

  13. Wash those beads!. Don’t be tempted to use old beads that have been lying around for years after being worn for years. The accumulated dirt and oils can actually harm your new beads, especially those with exotic finished. Mix up a little liquid hand soap and barely warm water and swish them around a bit. Rinse with cool water and spread out on a towel to air dry. You will see the true color and sheen as well as protecting the finish of the new project. If the beads peel or the color washes off, you are better to know now than after you spend hours creating a new piece.

  14. My mom passed many years ago. She had this one necklace that as children we adored.I inherited this necklace, but I also wanted to share it with my sister. I had the Aha moment. I was lucky,as it was a three strand A.B.Swarovski crystal beaded necklace.I took it apart, and now my sister gets to enjoy hers and I mine. I also repurpose some of her other vintage jewelry and pass these on to my daughter.

  15. Since the subject is spring cleaning–I buy a lot of old beads and necklaces at garage sales, and when I get them home they get a bath. I unstring and soak glass and plastic beads in warm water with a little dish detergent. Let them soak for a bit then agitate with your fingers. Rinse in a strainer and dry on paper towels. Use a white bowl so you can see how much crud you are getting rid of. 🙂 The first time I did this I was really surprised at just how dirty beads can get. After their bath the beads are sparkly and ready for their new incarnation. Of course Do Not do this to anything you think may be harmed by the soaking or detergent.

  16. Whenever we go out for Mexican food, I make sure I get extra salsa/sour cream/peppers from the buffet bar. Each condiment goes in its own little plastic container, with lid, guaranteeing a steady supply of small round storage cups. Plus they are clear so I can always see what I’m grabbing.

  17. I have a necklace I’m particularly proud of; it was the result of a class I took and it came out beautifully. It survived a hurricane with minimal damage, and its look is at the same time classic and fresh because of the colors I used. But while everyone who sees it admires it, no one has been compelled to purchase it. So, rather than take apart what took me a lot of time to create, I turned it into art by mounting it in a simple black shadow box frame. Now it serves as decoration in my bedroom and an inspiration for further creative endeavors, and I don’t feel pressured to sell it.

  18. I took apart a necklace that used to be my grandmas. Added some other beads and made a necklace, earrings and bracelet for my mom. I also use old pill bottles to store my beads in.

  19. I wanted to repair/reuse the beads in a vintage necklace. I wanted to keep the look but the wire connecting the beads was so old and tarnished that it was not reusable. To keep that “look” I used black softflex wire to reset all the beads.

  20. I not only use beads, broken jewelry and other components to make new pieces of jewelry but I also use them to embellish handmade cards and Encaustic art projects. Throwing away broken objects doesn’t happen often which can be a real problem so I try to go through every thing twice a year and (hopefully) toss at least a quarter of the “treasures” out.

  21. There are almost always collections of beads or “orphan” beads left over after putting together necklace, bracelet or earring projects. I combine all of the leftovers in a small, clear plastic container and add more of the same/similar colors as I clean up new projects. Eventually there are enough beads in the containers to create new projects. No waste, and quick and easy to clean up after each project! An added bonus is there is always a cache in which I can find beads that I can use to create an extra pair of earrings, do a repair, or create other jewelry if it is needed in the future.

  22. I can think of three recycled jewelry projects that might be worth a mention:

    1) My mother-in-law gave me a long, vintage, crystal necklace, probably from the 1920’s, that belonged to her mother-in-law. She’d never worn it herself, because it was a much larger piece than she’d ever be comfortable wearing. I decided to take it apart and make something out of it my mother-in-law would enjoy. I washed the beads first, by the way, by soaking them in denture cleaner. While I was at it, I made a piece for my sister-in-law and a piece for myself. I used the larger vintage beads as focal points in the three necklaces, adding smaller, new Swarovski and sterling wirework to each. While the materials were similar in all three necklaces, the finished necklaces were very different from each other, made with the recipients’ tastes in mind.

    2) One year, my friend was in charge of our bead group’s annual retreat challenge. She bought a thrift store necklace that was mostly made of the same large beads in a single strand. She cut it apart and gave one to each beader who had registered for the retreat, with the challenge of making something new out of the bead. It was fun to see a nothing-special necklace transform into many gorgeous (but different!) pieces!

    3). Our bead group is now talking about a new type of challenge where we’ll exchange abandoned UFO’s.

  23. I have my grandmother and mother’s vintage pins. I got a frame and put material in it and then put all the pins in the frame and have them hung in my bedroom and every time I see them they remind me of my mother and grandmother and how they would love to wear them especially to church.

  24. I like to “spring clean” my stash of beads at least once a year. Those that I no longer love as much as I did when I purchased them go into a separate container for use with my young nieces when they visit and want to create their own beautiful jewelry. Bonus for both … I get more room for more beads and they create jewelry with me and I don’t have to purchase separate beads for their projects.

  25. I love to go to rummage sales all summer and buy necklaces and other jewelry items to take apart and use in my creations. I sometimes find things at the Salvation Army and other resale stores as well. I browse the internet for ideas and I’ve also snapped pictures with my phone if I’m out and about and see something that inspires me.

  26. I have a large collection of buttons; many of them are quite old, which I love using in my bead embroidery projects. I especially love mother of pearl and bone buttons. They just seem to have a voice of their own.

  27. I have repurposed beads from no longer worn earrings and necklaces into unique Christmas ornaments to give as gifts, or to even hang on my own tree. Sometimes I make dangles to attach to purses and satchels, or attach to a ceiling fan chain. I have even taken the beads and placed on decorative head pins to adorn candles, which makes for nice gifts.

    Christie Gomez @ gomez.crew@att.net

  28. I love recycling old jewelry and found objects. I have used my Granny’s jewelry to create pieces for honor her memory in a modern, usable way. As clothes wear out, I recreate pieces to go with their replacements: adjusting length, adding/subtracting colors, etc. I upcycle old puzzle pieces to create charms and pendants. Old game pieces can be beaded around to become pendants or mini works o’ art.

  29. When working on a project if you need a piece of metal to be purple or any other solid color, here are two suggestions:
    1. Before attaching the metal, heat metal with a scrapbooker’s heat gun then sprinkle embossing powder on it and heat again, repeat until color is solid. Seal it with Iced Resin. This is an opaque color.
    2. Before attaching the metal, use alcohol inks and a paint brush for transparent color. Seal with clear nail polish or an acrylic spray sealer.

  30. So interesting that I found this post today on FB. I was just cleaning out my closet and found a long-forgotten jewelry box filled with random jewelry I’ve collected over the years. I recently resumed art quilting and am working on a mermaid themed quilt. She is holding a treasure box and some of these pieces, or parts of them, will be spilling out of the box and onto the sandy sea floor.

  31. An alternative way to recycle is to have a bead swapping party. I take unused beads and broken jewelry to the party and switch with another beader who has their stash. From there the ideas flow and out comes a unique piece of art. Necklace, bracelet, or a pair earrings.

  32. My spring cleaning this year was going through my vast amount of handmade and purchased jewelry and donating the items I don’t seem to wear. (That happens when you accumulate too much!) My local hospital has a “Garden Party” every June and they always have a table of “baubles, bangles, and beads” for sale. I donated over 100 items and the sale of those items will benefit the hospital auxiliary! 🙂

  33. I organize all my beads, crystals, and buttons in clear jars by size and color. I label the crystal and bead size on the bottom of each jar. Every time I go to “Cracker Barrel” I take home my used little maple syrup jars ~ they are perfect for storing the tiny delica beads. I then keep all the jars on a shelf in my craft room where I can immediately see what I have to work with and the beads and buttons stay clean. The “gem jars” are also attractive and brighten up the room!

  34. I save samples of bead woven patterns that I’ve designed that didn’t quite work for the project at the time. When I find a focal piece that speaks to me, I go through the samples to see if the design ideas work will with that focal. Sometimes even the colors match–so I’ve already got a start on the next project.

    Also – don’t forget your husband’s workshop! When he cleans out, I find some nice pieces – 2 weeks ago I grabbed some beautiful brass pieces from an old irrigation system. I can’t wait to use them in a new necklace!

  35. I have used old vintage pieces or small new pieces, that I make, as closures or decoration on the purses I crochet. Sometimes, sparkly beads are just the thing to finish it off. I love glass beads, but also use wood. Beads also add pizazz to the middle of a flower. I use flowers of some sort on most of my purses
    Also, DragonflyDreamweaver, I love your tip about taking the old piece apart first. I have had trouble getting inspiration, because all I see is the old piece. Thanks. Roseanne Salyer

  36. Wow, what alot of cool and unique ways to recycle! I’ll add these and hope someone else can benefit too. 🙂

    I had noticed over the last several years how popular steampunk jewelry has become, and one of the things I love abt this type jewelry is the popular use of watch parts. There were few artists using the bands though. My first tip utilizes the band, and the second involves using the face/case of the watch.

    First: Use the band to make a bracelet that will serve you to make a piece perfect for one of those special lampwork beads as the focal. The focal can’t be too wide though! The watchband can be made of leather.

    Second on the list is to use the case for a memento mori (or any other filled pendant). Detatch case from band and then empty case. Fill case with tokens/beads, etc and seal the case. You could also choose to fill the case with resin and place the tokens within so they will appear to float. Make a termination point, hang it, and wear it!

    If you’d like to learn more but have questions, give me a call – I’ll be happy to help out 😉

  37. I like taking several old necklaces and combining them to make new ones along with earrings and sometimes bracelets. If a certain piece has a special meaning I’ll make a charm from part of it for a charm bracelet.

  38. I scour thrift shops and garage/tag sales for jewelry. I find ‘treasures’ for cheap then take them home and put all in the same container. I love to sit and look at the treasures almost as much as finding them and then taking them apart for their individual components. I let them ‘talk’ to me for a while. Some times they set in the box for a long time, others jump out right away. It is always fun to see the combinations that evolve from these found items from my wanderings. I love visiting family to see if garage/tag sales are in their areas to get new items. Different areas seem to have different types of jewelry. It’s a real treat and have to admit, an obsession.

  39. I up cycle from yard sales, so when I find a bead or bag of broken something, I set it on the counter where I can walk by it for a few days and let the inspiration set in. I find that once it “grows” on me, I find it’s new purpose.

  40. I reuse “old” (beads & jewelry are never “old”) in new pieces and/or embellishments in crazy quilting and doll making. Sometimes I just hold them and admire them.

  41. I love using vintage jewelry elements, but I’m also very aware that sometimes the older, unregulated materials contain less-than-healthful substances. As such, I design my jewelry with this in mind. I keep the vintage beads and metal parts from coming in direct contact with the skin by using new settings for old beads and crystal, letting vintage chain dangle from earrings (away from skin), etc. When skin contact can’t be avoided, I use sealers and epoxies to contain any leaching. This will also prevent skin discoloration.

  42. The American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Los Altos, CA, has an annual jewelry sale, so I just go through my jewelry and give them the things I enjoyed making but really don’t wear. They make money for cancer research and I feel good.

  43. Wow, there are so many of you with such great tips and ideas. I do find it hard to remake a vintage piece that is beautiful and has a story behind it. So many times I do as many of you have suggested, cleaned the item, then remove the old stringing and replace with new stringing, trying to keep the original design. Perhaps removing a strand or adding to the piece another. It all depends on color, size, and materials used in the vintage piece whether or not to keep it similar to original design. I too have collected strands or jewelry unwanted by others and wait to be inspired into creating something totally unusual and different making it a one of its kind.

  44. I keep a large glass jar on my desk that my daughter and I toss broken jewelry in. Seeing the contents gives inspiration. Also inspiring is going through the contents and taking the components apart. They are used not just for jewelry but mixed media, collage, decopauge…

  45. I have so many old brooches, clip on earrings, and necklaces that belonged to my mother and grandmother. My favorite way to recycle or repurpose these fabulous pieces is to use the focal piece as a cabochon for a bead embroidered cuff, a bead embroidered pendant, or take some of those old clip on earrings, strip the clip, and turn them into bead embroidered earrings. Some pieces look great bezeled with a few Swarovski pearls or crystals and turned into a pendant or ring. Add a piece of shibori ribbon and those “old” colors pop.

  46. tattdgma@gmail.com

    I have so many pieces of wonderful jewelry from my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother. I take all of those old earrings, brooches, and necklaces, clean them up, and repurpose or recycle them into new jewelry by bead embroidering or bead weaving a bezel around the focal piece and using it as a cabuchon. I have made pendants, earrings, rings, and bead embroidered cuffs. I have also used old clip on earring by removing the clip and using it as a focal for some stunning hair fascinators by adding flowers, netting and/or feathers.

  47. Since I love many art forms including the use of fiber, I enjoy combining fibers with hard components in jewelry making. I often take vintage jewelry apart and repurpose with leftover fibers from my other endeavors such as ribbon work or knitting and found objects that have special meaning to me. Mixing it up in this way always nudges my creativity.

  48. I love repurpose – I comb thrift stores for something that catches my eye. Sometimes a necklace/bracelet only needs a new clasp and it will stay ‘old’. Sometimes it needs to be restrung to update it. Sometimes I take beautiful pins and I bezel stitch around them to make focal pieces for a necklace. Sometimes, I make two pieces out of one. I even cut the buttons off of the clothes that I am getting rid of so that I can use them for bracelet/necklace closures.

  49. I have a favorite thrift store I go to almost every Tuesday and that’s because it’s 15% off jewelry on Tuesdays. I always find something I can use. A necklace with a pretty pendant, a bracelet with charms on it…even old clip on earrings. I always find ways to re-use these items in new jewelry pieces. It’s so much fun!

  50. My favorite way to repurpose or upcycle any odd bit is embedding them in resin either as a focal point or background. My favorite resin pieces are mini collages with variety of layers. This is an excellent use of broken charms, lonely beads and even old electronics. Short bits of “waste” wire can be incorporated. A few small bends or a twist and suddenly the small over used, usually in my case abused, bit of wire becomes a central part of a resin collage. Bead woven test pieces, failed wraps anything can be effectively used in resin collages.

  51. I like to recycle any beads or pieces of jewelry in my stash of beads to be used when the muse strikes me. Since I use beads in my art quilting as well it pays to be frugal and add any find that I get into the stash….

  52. If a piece is looking stale, I like to bring in a surprising element. If the colors are dated, perhaps a splash of the latest palette; if the style is classical or romantic, perhaps a touch of something industrial, like a bolt or gear. The trick is to bring in something different enough that I can see the older elements with fresh eyes.

  53. Taking jewelry that was worn by a treasured family member, such as grandma, and giving it new life in a contemporary design is something that I love to do. Recently, I was asked to make a piece of fun and funky jewelry for a 17-year old to wear to a cousin’s hip wedding in California. She gave me a bag of costume jewelry pins that were her grandmothers. They were not signed, not precious metal, but very sentimental. I selected a large abstract goldtone pin. Here is my tip… Knowing that someday they might want to use it as a pin again, I kept the back intact, but used some wire to lash the pin back closed. Doing this makes the back secure so that the pin does not pop out, and allows them to take it off and use for a pin again in the future, if they like. Then I selected a bunch of eclectic art beads and gems to match her outfit for a one-of-a-kind asymmetrical necklace with the beads connected through the openings of the pin (no holes drilled). Her California cousins thought this Wisconsin girl was pretty posh (and she got to have a special piece of her grandmother with her)!