Finding Materials & Storing Them
Starting any hobby usually requires a small investment up front. Fortunately, making recycled jewelry is an inexpensive hobby that can actually save you money in the long run and you only need minimal tools and materials to get started. The best part of making jewelry from recycled materials is that most of your materials will be free and they're very easy to find. I will be doing a series of posts on how to get started. In this first post, I'm covering where to find things you can recycle into jewelry and how to store them.
In my journey making jewelry from recycled objects I've developed an eye for things that make great jewelry components. You would be surprised at what you can do with an empty hummus container or yesterday's newspaper. My favorite materials are cereal boxes, plastic food containers, plastic bottles, junk mail, magazines, catalogs and old calendars. As you start making jewelry from recycled objects, you'll develop a sense of what makes good material for your projects. You may even find that some things (like tissue boxes) already come with really pretty colors and designs. Take advantage of all the effort companies put into their product packaging. So many items already have beautiful colors and pictures that you can use in your projects that you won't have to do too much to have an interesting outcome.
With all of those materials, I know the question is going to arise as to how to store them. I keep my materials sorted based on size and composition. When I find a good plastic container for upcycling, I wash it, remove the labels and cut it into squares or sheets so that I can then store the pieces in a box for when I'm actually ready to do something with them. This helps me stay organized because I don't have tons of empty containers in my crafting space and it's also nice because when I'm ready to make something I can go straight to the fun part and skip the initial prepping.
For cardstock items, like nice tissue boxes, I flatten them out and store them in a scrap booking container. If I plan to use them for image transfers, I'll usually make the image transfer right away so that it doesn't take up as much space. Since image transfers are thin, you can store them in a smaller container and keep them stored until you're ready to use them. This also helps save time because the process of making an image transfer can sometimes be a little lengthy (especially if you have stubborn paper that doesn't rub off easily). Making your image transfers ahead of time and storing them will make it so much easier when you want to use them.
Other things that you may want to collect are things like small bits of ribbons, buttons and old jewelry. I usually store these types of materials in jars or a small container. This of course depends on the amount of materials you have. If you have hundreds of buttons, then a container with a lot of compartments is probably your best bet (like a bead organizer). Also if you have a lot of old jewelry for recycling, I would suggest a bead organizer. You can clean and take apart the jewelry and separate all of the beads and components to make it easier to use once you're ready to make jewelry. Again, prepping and organizing will make things easier so that when you're ready to sit down to make your recycled jewelry you can get right to the creative process and skip all of the sorting, cleaning and prepping.