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  • Nancy

How I Gave an Old Light New Life as Crystal Jewelry



The Ugly Light at the Garage Sale

Designing crystal jewelry out of upcycled chandelier crystals all started for me with a dated 1960s-era light I found at a garage sale. My sister and I used to go treasure hunting at garage sales most Saturday mornings. That meant getting out of my nice warm bed before 7am, and I am not a morning person! However, you can find some really cool things at garage sales so it was often worth it. On one particular trip, I found an old ceiling light, a round dome with a base of tarnished brass and a variety of chandelier crystals swagged in a dome shape. It was pretty ugly and dated and not in a cool retro way. I figured I’d just take it apart and salvage the crystals. At another house, I found a simple black iron chandelier with pretty scrollwork that I envisioned embellishing with some of the crystals I just found. The price for each light was a steal, and we needed a new lighting fixture for our dining room. My guy and I had just bought a new home, so we were short on money but well-stocked in creativity!

When I got home from the garage sales, I grabbed some tools and got to work. I carefully removed all of the crystals from the dome and played with a few layouts to swag on the new-to-me chandelier. Once I chose a layout, I restrung the crystals on wire and draped them from the rungs of the chandelier. To add the rustic vibe I was after, I added some faux-wood-wrapped twigs with little crystals. I was initially inspired by a chandelier I’d seen in a Pottery Barn catalogue that had sparkle and yet a rustic feel. They no longer carry the exact chandelier, but it was a bit like a cross between this one and this one. I’m quite pleased with how mine turned out!


How I Started Making Crystal Jewelry

I had several chandelier crystals left over from that project, and I stored them with my arts and crafts supplies for a few years until I started making jewelry. I’m a life-long artist, and I’ve worked with a variety of mediums. I've created several wine-themed paintings and drawings - at times even using wine as paint - and I didn't want to limit my art to a paper or canvas surface. I wanted to design artistic pieces that could be worn, so I came up with a way to pair my artwork with upcycled chandelier crystals. After I created the Cork Collection, I started working on new sparkly crystal jewelry designs. For the Crystal Collection, I combine reproductions of my original paintings, drawings, and handmade mixed media artwork with upcycled chandelier crystals to create one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art.

I created a third collection apart from my crystal jewelry featuring two-dimensional art, but I wanted to display it in a more modern, structural shape. For the Structure Collection, I make reproductions of my art, carefully set it into framed pendants with a touch of sparkle, and preserve the art under hand-poured glass-like resin.

Check out the Crystal Collection, the Structure Collection, and see the art that inspired the jewelry (Fyi ... the painting in the above photo might just start to look familiar ...).

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