What to Do with Your Jewellery Supply “Left-Overs”

by Helen White.

Hemalyke and siam crystal bangle by Helen White.

Making jewellery inevitably produces waste – you end up with left over threads, beading wire, single beads, chipped beads and other materials.

But before subjecting these to your bin, spare a second thought on these items as they might still be useful.

Memory Wire

When working with memory wire, I often end up with half a loop, especially when I create my three-tiered bangles.

Red agate three-tiered bangle by Helen White made from loops of memory wire.

Instead of binning these bits I keep and use them for cute dangly earrings. Just form a small loop on one end, thread your beads on, form another loop and attach to an earring finding of your choice.

Red agate earrings by Helen White, made from left over half-loops of memory wire.

Beading Wire

Mistakes can be easily made when creating necklaces using crimps and beading wire.

When this happens I snip off wire ends with the crimps, kinks or rough bits and often I still have wire long enough for a bracelet. I use shorter wire for earrings or as test pieces.

Silver Wire / Plated Copper Wire

Wire that has been worked with and straightened a lot gets brittle, however if you have bits of wire that are still workable, keep them for creating links, jump rings and wire jig test pieces.

Dark rose pearl necklace by Helen White features connectors made from bits and bobs of silver wire.

Silver Sterling

I never bin silver bits – even though I can’t use them.

Instead I collect my silver scraps in a designated plastic container and when it’s full I will send it off to the British company Cookson Gold.

Cookson’s scrap recovery scheme allows you to send your collected silver scraps to them for recycling.

They charge for the service and their charges depend on the quantity of materials, the assay type and the process they use to recover the scrap. However they also pay for your scrap.

I don’t know about American companies, but would imagine some operate a similar scheme.

Left Over Beads

Often you end up with one or two beads of a kind. Don’t bin these – they can form the basis of an unusual design.

Beads with scratches or kinks in them, which I can’t sell in a finished piece, I often use for creations I either wear myself or for test pieces.

If you a have a chipped bead or pendant you can try and hide it strategically by wrapping wire over it.

Dark rose pearl necklace by Helen White.

Clays: PMC, Art Clay and Polymer Clay

The beauty of working with all these clays is that as long as they are not fired or cured you can re-use them.

Dry PMC and Art Clay can be re-used by adding water to form slick paste which is handy when you want to “glue” clay together in a piece.

Polymer clay can be re-used as long as you ensure that you don’t mix different brands (because they have different curing i.e. baking times) and store them in an air-tight box so they don’t dry out.

However often you end up with mixed colours which you normally wouldn’t use for a piece. These can form the core of beads or the back of a pendant over which you can lay the actual colour.

What do YOU do with your jewelry supply “leftovers?

Helen White

Helen White Design

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