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Reinventing Vintage Jewelry Finds

Posted by rachel on October 18 at 08:32 pm

Not only am I a new Lima Beads team member, but I am also a novice in the jewelry and beading worlds.  When I was much younger, I dabbled in beading, making bracelets and necklaces for all my friends with those microscopic seed beads, little charms and found objects like shells and sea glass that I had, albeit very poorly, wire wrapped and formed into pendants.  That little hobby eventually dwindled away.

Vintage Owl Necklace

Vintage Owl Necklace

When I got older and became interested in shopping for vintage clothing, my attention was quickly focused on all of the great jewelry I could find. Not only was it affordable, but it was a practical guarantee that others would not be found wearing the same thing! Let it be known that I am not now, nor ever have been, searching for those valuable family heirlooms. My taste has always been quite the opposite.  I adore the things most people refer to as “tacky” and “garish.” If shopping with a friend, I usually hear “I wouldn’t wear it, but you could pull it off.” I’m okay with that.

Vintage Leaf Necklace

Vintage Leaf Necklace

I think most people would describe my collection as looking like that of an eccentric, flashy grandmother. I’m okay with that too. However, one really has to inspect second-hand jewelry before buying if you plan to wear as-is. A lot of the time, I find something interesting, but talk myself out of buying it because it’s not in the best condition. This is exactly the reason I have decided to learn how to refurbish all of those great finds. I am interested in using pieces I already own, pieces I have yet to discover, and some new items (from Lima Beads, of course!) to create one-of-a-kind accessories. 

Besides the originality factor, I believe shopping second-hand is a great way to lessen our individual impact on the environment (carbon footprint). Purchasing used items reduces the use of fossil fuels used for manufacturing and transportation of goods. It really is that simple. Also, the majority of local thrift stores are linked to a charitable organization. Whether it’s your school’s PTA or The Salvation Army, most of those dollars spent are headed to people in need!

Goodies Found at The Salvation Army

Goodies Found at The Salvation Army

So, I am interested in finding people in our Lima Beads community who do the same. I would love to get tips and feedback from you, whether it’s your story about how you got started making jewelry, what you do with your vintage finds, or even what kind of components you use. I’ll be learning to bead as I go, so I’ll need plenty of help and support! 

Thanks everyone,


Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    I can’t decide if I love the owl pendant or not. It scares me a little bit…

    This is awesome Rachel. I know you’ve been wanting to learn more about beading ever since you started here and this will be an great way to dive in!

    I’m sure you’ll get lots of tips and support from the Lima faithful :)

  2. Kitty Chicky Cat
    Kitty Chicky Cat says:

    I’d love to see some of your pieces, Rachel! I think you should have a gallery for the Lima team’s jewelry and pieces of bead art.

    I have some beads that I think were from a “costume jewelry” piece belonged to my grandmother’s mother. I am amazed at their quality, how beautiful and sparkly the beads are. No, they really don’t make ‘em like they use to!

    But the beads are antique and a family heirloom of sorts so I’m a bit afraid to use them. Any advise on what to string them on so the are best preserved?

    Even the plastic beads that my grandmother has from when she was overseas are prettier and of better quality than what you find today.

    What is your favorite stringing material for your Lima beads?

  3. CAS
    CAS says:

    I too love the old jewelry pieces. They are, in general, better quality than what you can find today, built to last in other words.

    I have a collection of pins and brooches, from the 1930′s to the early 1980′s. They range in materials from celluloid to sterling silver, including wood, bakelite and “costume”. I also love buying and designing with vintage beads.

    You can get converter pieces to turn pins into pendents. They come in gold plate and silver plate, and are either vertical or horizontal hanging. You just slip your pin’s clasp into it and then it strings like a bead. The advantage is, of course, that you can change it back into a pin very easily. Two pieces of jewerly for one.

    What to string vintage beads with totally depends on what material they’re made from. Rule of thumb is string it on what you’d string a modern day equivilant on. If in doubt, beading thread is always a good bet, it tends to be the gentlest.

    I’d love to see more of your “goodies” and redesigned pieces too.

    P.S. I think your owl may be circa 1970′s, they were very popular than and my Aunt had one very, very like it.

  4. beadaholchick
    beadaholchick says:

    YAHOO!! Another “second hand jewelry” lover! We hit antique/used
    even Goodwill type stores & find many treasures to turn new. This is my favorite way to make jewelry, epecially combining them w/Lima Beads. I would love to hear from anyone who does the same.

  5. beadaholchick
    beadaholchick says:

    I almost forgot a box of vintage buttons that my grandmother left me. I back them w/felt & suede, sew seed beads around the button & they make beautiful antique looking pendants.

  6. CAS
    CAS says:

    Buttons can be made into very cool clasps too.

  7. No Photo
    Rachel says:

    I’m so excited about getting started and all of you guys will be a great support team! :) It’s all a little overwhelming at this point, but I’m sure it won’t belong before I’m completely obsessed!

  8. J Cardenas
    J Cardenas says:

    I also love the vintage- I finally found something to do with some cameos I bought at a flea market years ago-. I used a filigree piece behind it, wrapped chunkey garnet stones, some seed beads, and WOW. It looks awesome! I don’t really wear this type of piece, but I absolutely love to make them! Crazy, but hey- I’m a craft-er. Of course I’m crazy! Jennifer

  9. T Mazzorana
    T Mazzorana says:

    I love vintage beads. I have recently started working with them when my grandmother died last year. I got all her jewelry and have been using it to make new pieces. Most of it is probably 50 years old. I am big into recycling and love the idea of secondhand jewelry. I check garage sales and estate sales. Usually you can get some inexpensive pieces.

  10. No Photo
    Faith g says:

    I, too am interested in vintage jewelery. Would like to see some more creations. I have never made anything vintage yet but want to.

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