Upcycling..the best way I have found to feed my jewelry obsession.

So, I know you’ve seen this word upcycling a lot lately and I have resisted it for a while but now I have come to realize it is a great word, and totally applies to what I’ve been doing!

Let’s back up a bit.

My Dad collects and sold antiques. When I was a kid we used to go to a local Flea market  (back in the day when Aurora Flea market was a really legit flea! Now its an outlet mall ……sad face). He used to sell antique jewelry and pocket watches.

Now…..I freakin loved that stuff. I mean it… obviously , I love jewelry. I mean LOVE Jewelry. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. All of it…even ugly jewelry has a place in my heart (poor little things…come here, I will hug you) When I see beautiful jewelry something just happens to me. Its magic. My heart beats a little faster. My hands itch a bit (just let me hold it dammit!) When I see movie where something awful happens (pirates, earthquakes, volcanos….) and one stupid  character has to go back for the treasure (which is always the most glorious trunk of jewels with a crown on top)…everyone watching is yelling “NO! Don’t do it! Its not worth it!”……..Yeah, I was totally thinking “worth it.” Don’t just leave that treasure there stupid! Its TREASURE!  GO BACK! PLEASE! I NEED THAT CROWN!

Will someone just give me a diamond crown please? I need one. I will love it and pet it, and wear it whilst I sleep. Promise.

Sorry….I digress. In any case, I used to help my dad set up (which included a lot of handling of jewelry…which inevitably turns into me having to try on everything. I can’t help it. It just happens. “oh…look at that…how did that ruby victorian ring get on my finger??”) Also, I used to help him sort, clean and price his purchases. Some of my greatest memories were of dad bringing out large boxes of  jewelry (most costume) for my sisters and I to look at and sort. It was awesome. We would sit at the table trying stuff on, untangling chains, and talking. Like I said , awesome.

Than there’s my beloved best friend Simi, who loves jewelry as much as I do..but always had WAY fancier jewelry that I did. Everyday of High school we would trade rings back and forth (guess who was getting the batter end of the deal?) She would pull off what ever ring I was wearing and slip hers on my finger “will you marry me Hen?” she used to say. As I looked at the wonderfully gorgeous emerald or sapphire she slipped on my hand I would reply “of course!” As much as my sisters love jewelry , no one I know has the deep, insane, weird love of it like myself and Simi. When she and I look at great jewelry and I say to her…”I kind of want to eat it…” She doesn’t judge. Pretty much because she is licking her lips too!

So, moving on. For years now I have hunted flea markets and ebay for jewelry. Costume, real….whatever. Its all good. I never had much money to work with so I had to get creative. I started getting stuff that needed repaired. Ok, great..so I learned how to repair. But it just wasn’t enough.

Enter Pinterest. Oh the Glory. Oh the Wonder. I couldn’t get enough….I would pin for HOURS in the middle of the night when my youngest son just refused to sleep (seriously…like for 3 yrs, no more than a few hours at a stretch). So for hours I hunted for tutorials on how to make different kinds of jewelry. Enter Resin.

Resin…what a fickle mistress. One time it works beautifully…the next time…CRAP. In any case I started making resin pieces using antique papers as my images…well you got about a 50/50 shot of that working. SO much trial and error later  (about a year of fooling with it) I think I have it pretty well down. Every once and a while the resin gods ruin a bunch of stuff just to remind me who is boss…but my percentages are much better.


This is one of my currant favs…..I love it so.

I started pouring resin into watch cases. As I hated most the commercially made bezels..plus (if you have read my other entries )I am insanely cheap and I was able to hunt down vintage and antique stuff I liked at prices I was ok with, given my propensity for being a cheap ass …..also recycling appeals to me. Don’t get me wrong…watch parts aren’t cheap. It takes a long time to hunt down all the stuff that goes into my pieces and lately pocket watches ( my favorite to work with) are getting harder and harder to find (not to mention more expensive). I spend a ton of time searching for the elements that make up my jewelry. Flea markets, estate sales, antique stores..you get the idea.


See the great old tiny key? Also the watch body? Don’t they look like candy when set in resin! I want to eat’em!

Than it occurs to me…thats my thing. I upcycle! I take some thing that would have sat hidden in a drawer, or even thrown away…and I turn them (  I think of them as “THEM”……I know…..shut up) into something useful. Maybe even beautiful if I do say so myself.

All those years of helping my dad polish pocket watches rubbed off (pun intended)….I love that stuff…I want it to see the light of day! Lets be clear though…I am not tearing apart gorgeous heirlooms here. If I find a watch in good shape I leave it alone……tearing it apart would be like killing it!  I just can’t do it! I would hear its little whisper….”murder”…as it ticked its last tick….ugh. Can’t do it. I look for  pieces parts. Stuff already torn apart.  I love watches, the faces are beautiful and stately, but also just look at the guts….there is beauty there in the tiny works and gears.


Oh..the beloved Dremel. Also….It terrifies me to do this….this little thing is a hundred years old…don’t fuck up!

I find it  interesting what influences you….having been a singer, I have a deep love of sheet music. I tend to make lots of pieces from vintage sheet music. Its art…just take a second and look at it sometime. Gorgeous. Years of being around antiques has left a real love of things that have a patina to them that nothing else but age can provide. I really enjoy working with elements like paper that has that glorious browning that only happens after being in an old ladies basement for years (there’s also a smell that goes with it…and either you love that smell or you hate it. You, out there, collectors and recyclers , you  know what I mean…..).



See? Music!

I also find I love the part of making things that requires tools. OH BOY DO I LOVE TOOLS! When asked what I want for Christmas and I say “OOOOHH…..I totally need a more powerful cordless drill!”……well that merits a few odd looks. This is where I credit my stepdad. As a contractor there were always tools around..tools he was happy to teach us to use. Also he me gave a great sense for reusing things. If you can’t buy something the way you want …make it. Having the right tools makes a HUGE difference with that. If you took away my Dremel (and the hundreds of tiny attachments that I love so) I would cry. I mean CRY. It is the coolest damn tool EVER!! I felt like a whole new world opened up to me when I got that little thing. I CAN CUT THROUGH ANYTHING! and sand it smooth when I’m done.

So in any case …….I now make jewelry ( I upcycle other things too..but I sell a lot of jewelry…plus its my dearest love). Something for years I wished I could do….so I learned. I think there’s a lesson in that. If you love something…LEARN about it. You will be a better person for it. Or maybe….like me…..it just means that you now have made enough jewelry that you could spread it all over your  bed and roll around in it “Indecent Proposal” style. I haven’t done that…..I can assure you if you buy a piece from me I haven’t rolled around on it ass out. But  just knowing that I COULD is enough. I promise.

If you would like to purchase a piece from me check out my Etsy store, my facebook page (Hennysartiques) or just send me a message.


As always Thanks for listening!


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