Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Something Old, Something New - A Tale of Two Necklaces (Part 2)

(continued from Part 1)

Once at home with my box o' jewelry from Allie and Abby, I spread everything out on my table and started to play. The first necklace I got to work on was Allie's.
All of Allie's original pieces from our initial meet up.
Allie gave me a great variety of materials to work with. She wanted me to construct a multiple strand necklace using as many pieces of her jewelry as possible. I asked her which pieces were the "must haves" since there was a lot to choose from. She chose her bird brooch, a silver flower brooch, and a white enameled chain. The chain was interspersed with gold barrel links, that she hilariously described as very "Mrs. Roper." She wanted me to remove those gold links and reconnect the chain into one continual piece. Allie also liked the white daisies on her gold mesh bracelet and wanted to see if they could be removed and incorporated into the final necklace. Her pieces held so much potential and charm.

Sorry Mrs. Roper...
Having the bird brooch and silver brooch as the two main pieces to flank each side was a great start. Loops were fastened to each brooch for chains and Thom (my oh-so-creative and helpful husband) un-soldered the daisies from the mesh bracelet for me. I fastened them to the silver floral brooch for added interest. I added some of my own silver toned chains to drape across the front.

A mix of Allie's jewelry and mine. Gold daisy bracelet, white chain, floral silver brooch, and bird brooch were used in the final piece.
Several gold "Mrs. Roper" barrel connectors were removed from the white chain. The two silver chains neighboring the white one were also used.

Bird brooch with some chains attached.

Silver flower brooch with daisies attached.
During the whole process, I emailed Allie with updated pics for feedback and to make sure I was going in the right direction. At one point, we decided the necklace needed a little more color, so I ordered a vintage red enameled chain online. Allie also mentioned liking rosary chains around the neck, so I took her blue beaded necklace, removed the beads from the string, and wired them together in a rosary chain. 

First draft of the necklace before the red enamel chain and blue rosary chains were added. Dig the blue twist tie closure? 

After a few more revisions, we set a time to meet up for a final fitting and to add the clasp. We chose the IKEA cafeteria in New Haven. Allie was a real trooper coming in that day, with a relentless cold. It was great seeing her after all our emails and I was anxious for her to see the nearly completed piece. Soon after sitting down, Allie noticed that we were both wearing very similar scalloped Bakelite bracelets from the 40's (hers was off white...mine was green). We couldn't help but be amazed by the coincidence!

Wonder Twin powers activate! Form of...a Bakelite bangle!
 I forgot to bring one important thing on my trip...a mirror. We improvised by using my camera. Allie would hold up the necklace, I would snap a picture, and she would look at the pic (and repeat). Sure, sure I know what you're all thinking: "You're in IKEA! Go grab a mirror!" Of course we didn't think of it at the time but I have to say that our creative solution provided us with a few laughs.

One of our mirror shots in the cafeteria.

 With Allie's input, we tweaked a few things. The red enamel chain was draped the front of the necklace and the rosary was attached to wrap around one side of the necklace. Since the handmade rosary chain was so delicate, it was anchored to a silver toned strand for support. It was so nice to have an extra set of hands across the table to help me manipulate this complex piece and only took a few attempts to get the chain lengths correct. Once happy with the final composition, I added the clasp and it was finally done. Allie looked amazing draped in her new necklace! We took advantage of the cool backdrops at IKEA and snapped some shots of her in different living rooms.

Allie looking gorgeous in her Scandinavian surroundings.

Completed piece with red chain and blue rosary chain up the right side.
Being my first personalized upcycling project, I had no idea what to expect when I began. From start to finish, I enjoyed working with meaningful heirlooms and getting to know the amazing women behind them. Allie's final necklace linked pieces of her past with the person she is today. As we parted ways, I felt proud to have played a role in creating a new family treasure and having connected to a new friend.

(read here for part 3)

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