Copper Wire Roadkill Jewellery

by Tamara Summers.
(Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)

A couple of weeks ago, I visited one of my favourite second-hand stores (I currently have five favourites!). I didn’t end up finding the non-jewellery items I went in for, but ended up coming out of the store with a couple of strands of jewellery draped over my hand.

You’ve got to look, right?! As I headed to my car, a flash of light from something really shiny hit my eyes. I looked down. There lay a skein of run-over fine copper wire. One of the ends of the spool had popped off by the impact.

Of course I picked it up. As I held it up and examined the poor thing, I started to laugh as the phrase “roadkill jewellery” immediately came to my mind. I noticed at that moment that there was a man sitting in a nearby truck watching me, so I simply transferred the wire to my other hand, the one that held my purchased treasures, and continued on my way. I doubted that anyone would return and claim the wire.

I took a quick picture before I did anything with it, because I knew right away that I would write a post about my roadkill (or in this case parkinglotkill) jewellery. I had no idea what I would end up making from it. The wire is very fine, much finer than I would normally use. And I don’t do wire crochet.

But I instinctively wanted to just start to stretch it out bit by bit as a whole unit, and not try to separate the strands. After I cut off the damaged end, I did that, then curved it into what became a lovely teardrop shape. I thought, “Great, I can make some earrings”. But the next piece refused to become a teardrop, choosing to be a triangle instead, I think because of the way it had been run over. So I remembered the “go with the flow of the wire” advice and let it be a triangle.

I considered just continuing on, seeing what shapes would emerge, but what I really wanted to do at that point was to gently stretch the rest of it out and see what I had.

Maybe that was lack of patience speaking, but that’s what I did. It seemed natural to gently twist the wire as I drew it out. I saw that I had just enough to make a necklace with, so I decided to go that route.

The first thing I did was to brush some sealant onto my twisted wire. I knew this would add a bit more strength as well, and secure the shape a little more. I also knew I needed to wrap something else with it.

And this eyelash trim was the first thing that came to my mind, maybe because I love turquoise with copper. I’ve had it for a while, and it’s never been right for any other project. So maybe that’s why I tried a few other cords and ribbons first, but none of them did anything for it. When I tried this, to me it was the perfect pairing. Finally, a use for this trim!

I decided to use the triangle as the pendant, and found these lampwork beads in my stash, which go perfectly with the other elements. I wanted to add one more thing for a bit of interest. One of the lampwork beads has a little white flower on it with a golden centre, which I went to for inspiration.

At first I was going to add some white freshwater pearls, but they made the design a little too busy. I do like a bohemian multi-media look for my jewellery, but I also like things to look really harmonious as well. Then I thought of these golden crystals, and knew immediately that I wanted to embed some of them into the “chain” part of the necklace, as well as for accents on the pendant. The light gold softens the colour of the copper a bit, and makes it more accessible for people that generally wear gold.

I decided to do a bit of wire-wrapping on the pendant with a slightly thicker gauge wire, to add a bit more interest, and again another layer of stability.

The clasp for this necklace was made out of scrap pieces of copper wire as well. I had previously bent a bit of wire into the “eye” portion of the clasp, not knowing what I would use that little shape for. I realized it would work here for a clasp, mimicking the triangle shape of the pendant. I made a hook out of another little scrap.

I decided to make a pendant out of the teardrop-shape I had originally formed (it eventually became an oval). I was able to add a couple of the pearls here. I remembered that not long ago I had bought some rose-gold chain. I think it looks beautiful with this pendant. It seemed like the crowning touch in transforming my copper wire roadkill into esteemed jewellery!

Tamara Summers
Pink Pearls by Tamara

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  1. Very pretty & creative use of ‘roadkill’ 🙂 No one would ever know unless they read it here.

  2. Thank you Tammie – that’s what I was aiming for!

  3. How satisfying to created something so beautiful out of an accidental find. Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. My husband and I have gotten a reputation for picking up smashed bottles if the color is pretty. Then we run the pieces in a tumbler for a month or so to make faux sea glass. Parking lots can contain lots of raw materials if your mind is open to the possibilities!

  5. Thank you for your comments Lynda and Anne! It certainly is satisfying to recycle things in this way. You’re right, Anne, the possibilities are endless!

  6. I love this story, Tamara, and your resourcefulness! And as soon as I saw the interesting title I couldn’t do anything else till I read the legend of “Roadkill Jewellery”. 🙂

    I love how you used this fab find – and hearing about how you went with the wire’s flow! The blue and copper make a great color scheme, and I like the eyelash trim’s contrast – giving the wire a softer yet very substantial counterpart.

    A lovely, unique necklace with an interesting history! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  7. Pascha Lee says:

    Very cute! Isn’t it nice how inspiration can come from anywhere? You just have to have an open mind and the possibilities are endless!

  8. Rena, I’m glad you enjoyed the humour! That was the best part for me. I’m very pleased with how the jewellery turned out, but it was the funniness of the term that came to my mind that was the most enjoyable and memorable part.

    You’re the one that put the phrase “go with the flow” in my mind regarding wire. I don’t usually do a lot of wire work (this is as much as you ever see me do), and I don’t gravitate toward triangles generally, but it ended up working out well. Thank you for your compliments!

    Thank you too, Pascha Lee, for your compliment, and for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment!

  9. Wow… what a brilliant use of this gauge of copper! I’ve got a lot of that type (in case you didn’t know, this gauge typically comes from ethernet cable) and have only been using it to make wraps around larger gauges of copper. I’ve been a copper hoarder for a few years. I started when the building I worked in started a reconstruction project and I saw, literally, yards and yards of copper in a recycle bin.

    Of course, they were taking most of it to be sold but, because I can flirt and bat my eyelashes with the best of them (being Southern has some advantages!), they gave me about 15 feet of 10, 12, 14, 18, and 26 gauge each. You’ve got me beat with the “roadkill” but the oddest place I’ve found my “treasure” was at my brother’s beach house. There was a bunch of 18 gauge (yay! very hard to find in salvaged copper these days) run through sand and under the driveway for an electronic dog fence that was no longer used.

    My husband came out and looked at me, on my hands and knees, digging in the sand, shook his head and went back inside! I think that, in order to be a true jewelry artisan, you’ve got to be willing to do some dumpster diving and, definitely, get dirty.

  10. Hi Liz! Thanks for informing me on this type of wire. There may have been a label on the end that got popped off, but there was nothing I was able to read regarding gauge or where it came from or what it was for. And I’m not that knowledgeable on wire, except for the basics.

    Sounds like you’ve scored some great wire, too! Yes, I’d dig in the sand too for jewellery making goodies! 🙂

  11. Not that I’m an expert – just mounds of wire – but, from looking at it, I’d say it’s probably 24-26 gauge. But your use is quite innovative (and cute!) and gauge, as they say for size, doesn’t always matter 🙂

  12. Thank you, Liz – for the compliment and the further info!

  13. Awesome piece and terrific story! I don’t know how many times I have passed up wire bits and pieces on the ground! After reading your post and seeing your piece- never again!

  14. Thank you, Wylene! Sometimes all it takes is seeing how someone has used something for our own creativity to click in. I know that happens for me, and that’s part of what this community is about. Glad to be a catalyst! 🙂

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