There are a lot of things I love about vintage and retro styles. It hits all the fashion high notes for me… the clothing, the purses, the shoes, the jewelry, and other accessories. Swoon! When it comes to jewelry, while I love lots of different styles and types of jewelry, the plastics have long been my favorites. New, old, I love and collect it all!
Source: LIFE Magazine, April 28, 1941 found via Pinterest,
original source of this copy of the image unknown
If you follow me on Instagram, you maybe have caught some glimpses this year that I’ve been working on learning how to make my own jewelry with resin. Basically, making my own retro plastic pieces. This is definitely not a “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to play with that!” kind of a craft; it’s been a full-on indoctrination into learning about plastics, mold making, jewelry making, and everything that accompanies it. And that is a mighty big “everything”, I must say!
I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours this year studying, practicing, and working towards getting even a little bit decent at it.
earring and brooch pieces in the works… several of them cast from molds I made of vintage pieces
I’m happy to say that I am getting a little bit decent at it! But it’s been a huge investment of time and energy to get there, and I still am regularly making lots of mistakes. For all the neat pieces I’ve made, there are failures, too. And for all the extensive research and practice, I have tons more to learn and try, and it’s still very easy to make mistakes. There’s lots of parts of the process that can go wrong even when you think you’ve done things correctly.
And that’s not even touching on the investment of money—lots and lots of supplies involved in what I’ve been doing, and even months later I never seem to have all the things I need!
It’s worth mentioning I won’t be doing any tutorials or anything like that. It’s fun and addicting, but I would not call all of this a casual craft! Phew, not in the slightest! There’s no way I could possibly ever cover the intricacies and minutia of everything I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn, un-learn, and re-learn!) on my blog. If you’re interested in learning about resin and mold making too, I’d encourage you to get out there and look for articles, books, workshops, or other resources that may help you in your exploration and studies. Just be prepared for a veritable ton of research, trying different supplies and methods, and endless trial and error! That’s what I did, and continue to do. It’s nothing like getting knitting needles and a ball of yarn and teaching yourself to knit, or even buying a sewing machine, fabric, patterns, and supplies to start sewing, which is a bigger investment in time and money at the beginning than knitting.
I’m really having a ball playing around with all of this, but in full honesty, it has not come easy or cheap in any respect!
I’ve already had several questions about if I’m planning on selling my jewelry… and the truth is, I doubt it. I went into this exploration totally for fun. Mainly because I wanted to make my own chain brooches with charms, because original vintage ones are just stuuuupid pricey. And I haven’t truly sat down and learned a new skill (new skill? try about 10 new skills with this!) in some time, so it’s really been satisfying (as well as frustrating, admittedly).
It’s never been my goal to open up a business selling resin jewelry creations. I mean, never say never, right? But I honestly do not have any active plans for that, although I do toss around the idea every so often.
My finished Hot Tamale and She Sells Sea Shells brooches, made with vintage charms
There’s lots of fantastic jewelry makers out there creating vintage-inspired pieces. I love supporting them, and if you love plastic jewelry, you should check them out! Off the top of my head I can name several that I’d encourage you to support, if you haven’t already! Luxulite, The Pink Bungaloo, Desperate Beatnik, SparkleLux, Match Accessories, Glitter Paradise… just to name a few that I love! These are all fantastic small business creating amazing retro pieces. I love that we have a vintage online community that supports them, because what they’re making is truly so cool, and I know from just the little bit I’ve learned over the last several months how damn hard they work to make such beautiful and professional pieces! My lust for creating my own fun little pieces hasn’t quelled my love of supporting them, which I will heartily continue to do. Once a plastic jewelry lover, always a plastic jewelry lover… 😉
What I might decide to do is some limited-edition reproduction button sets now and again, cast from real vintage buttons. You know I love vintage plastic buttons, since they appear on literally every cardigan I knit, and anything I sew that has buttons. I’ve had so much fun with making repro buttons, and I think it’s something knitters and sewists alike might get a kick out of. I mean, I made my own freakin’ buttons for the cardigan I’m currently knitting! That was amazing even to me, and I’m the one who did it. Ha ha! And frankly unless I start putting buttons on every single thing I sew or knit, I’m probably going to end up making more buttons than I can possibly use, just because I enjoy making them. Can’t say that I’ll ever sell any for sure, but it’s a possibility. Regardless, if I do ever decide to sell anything I make, I’m sure it would be on a very limited scale. I do have a job and a life and oh yeah, those other crafts I love too…
Most of what I’ve shown in this post (with a couple exceptions) hasn’t actually been turned into jewelry pieces yet. But I thought I’d share a bit of the new things I’ve been up to this year. Don’t be surprised when you start to see some By Gum, By Golly jewelry or buttons peppering my outfits soon!
What can I say, I’m a plastic jewelry fanatic, now more than ever!!
Thank you for the blog post. I wish I had half your dedication at your craft. I have yet to make a dress even through I 30 odd patterns! Cant wait to see more swoon worthy jewelry.
Thanks, it does take a lot of dedication! 🙂
Those buttons! I love vintage buttons, but I rarely find sets with enough for my projects. Using vintage ones as molds to make new buttons solves that problem nicely. That’s so cool.
Thanks, Andi! Yes, the idea that I could make 8 when I’ve found a great button set with 5 buttons is really appealing.
WOWZER. It seems completely amazing to have the option to make custom buttons for your creations. Please do be sure to let us know if you decide to sell button sets. I can’t ever see myself getting into plastics, but I’d certainly support your habit. 😀
It had never occurred to me before that I could make buttons and then suddenly one day WHAM! I certainly will let you know if I do ever sell any!
Kacy Burchfield says
Wonderful work, the pieces all look beautiful! I’ve been playing around with resin for a little while, amd I’m trying to get the hang of the finishing process. It is a lot of fun and my favorite part is coming up with new glitter and color combinations. It’s good for the creative soul! Keep on creating!
It’s really fun playing with glitter combos! Except when you do something that’s a dud. lol You keep on creating, too!
I tried resin once, got annoyed and quit. I commend you for sticking with it. I thought about trying it again but don’t see how I can feasibly do it in my NYC apartment without getting my cats seriously high. They already need to go to Nip Anonymous. I would buy buttons from you in a nanosecond. Those blue ones are to die for!
Nip Anonymous, ha ha! My cat would be at home there too. And thanks about the buttons!
All of this looks so amazing! I know that we’re not really seeing the duds, but still… those two finished brooches look lovely, and even the loose pieces have so much potential. It sounds like a tough craft to perfect, but it seems like you’re doing a fantastic job with it.
Yowza, but those are super cute!!!!! Amazing work, and so creative!
You’ve done a beautiful job of your jewellery! Love the idea for making repro buttons- genius. I’m still at the purchasing supplies phase of resin jewellery and cannot wait ti give it a whirl. So far I’m the cliche of ” all the gear and no idea”!
Jessica Cangiano says
Way to go, Tasha! I really admire your dedication and desire to immerse yourself so fully in this beautiful jewelry making art form. The pieces you’ve shared here are all flat out stunning. If you ever opt to start a line of jewelry or sell some buttons as you mentioned you might, I have no doubt that you’ll get customers lining up around the (virtual or literal) block for them.
Happy creating, my lovely friend!
This is so cool! I’ve never done any plastic work myself, but knowing what is involved in plaster casting and chocolate molding (two things I HAVE done) I can’t even imagine how much of a project this has been. The pieces are turing out great!
I love what you’re doing with resin. I dabble a lot in jewellery making especially mixed media like resin, UTEE and polymer clay – all plastics of a sort. I started making jewellery with gemstones and transferred all those skills to the plastics. As a knitter I make lots of my own buttons usually from polymer clay, because I can get exactly the right size, shape and colour (s) for the project. Well done!
love that you are making these yourself. So cool! Have you heard of Tatty Devine? It’s a British brand that does laser cut plastic jewellery. Not strictly vintage but definitely very retro!
Yes, I haven’t bought anything of theirs but I love it!!
A very big well done! Your creations are wonderful and I can’t wait to see you wearing them soon.
Veronica Darling says
I love that some crafts are casual crafts and others … ur a little harder! What an amazing thing to make, I would never imagine going DIY on these pieces but of course you could. I love the shells and ferns you made!
Great work! I love playing with resin.
What did you use for the metallic lines in the light aqua pieces? It looks like nail striping tape!
Wow! You’re really good at making jewelry! Since you aren’t planning to sell, you could always make personalized gifts for your loved ones or maybe a giveaway. I love that you’re making buttons, too. I’m a button lover and treasure my grandma’s collection. Those old ones have so much character, don’t they?
I’ll be checking out the links you listed. Thanks!1
Jennifer Elizabeth says
Wow, what a neat craft! I make some bead and wire jewelry and I thought about learning metalsmithing at a local arts collective, but didn’t want to put in the time/energy/money investment. Good for you for soldiering through and coming out the other side with some really beautiful pieces!
Yes, it does kind of make me think of metalsmithing which I always thought looked fascinating but have never delved into! I do think resin crafting can be done on a lower key level than that, but I’ve jumped in whole hog! 😉
Jennifer Elizabeth says
I will admit, everytime I think of metalsmithing, I also think of Johnny Tremain, and that rather scares me off. I may have to try resin.
Ha ha, that’s true! 😉
Recreating vintage buttons is a brilliant idea , I’d never though of using resin for that although I’ve seen a few of the resin retro jewellery vendors online. There must be a niche for buttons so if you ever DO decide to do a shop, that’s your idea right there! 🙂
What fun! Your work is beautiful! I swooned over the buttons 🙂
Elena Knits says
Great pieces! I also started to play with resin recently but I still have a lot to learn. I’m using EasyCast because it’s (almost) odorless. What have you been using?
I love those buttons!
These are gorgeous! They look positively juicy!
Rochelle New says
You talents never cease to amaze me! Sewing, knitting, resin casting (no big deal lol)… I mean seriously. Amazing! I can’t wait to see all the fantastic jewelry you create. I’m predicting a cuckoo clock brooch of epic proportions in your future…
Lithia Black says
Wow, your pieces look awesome. I envy your skill. If you ever consider selling I truly adore the set in the image below. (i could settle for buttons in that style too):
But I understand your wish to keep it as a hobby, sometimes crafting for money destroys the fun.
Miss Beta says
This is wonderful! Lately I’m also trying to make my own jewelry, but hadn’t enough time to see results. Your pieces look fantastic. I love, truly love your buttons! 🙂
So I have a BILLION vintage buttons, but I’m never quite sure what I should do with them. I considered selling them, but it seems like it would be a full time job since it takes me a day to organize them every time I get a new button windfall…
Wow! Tasha, these are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your new craft. And, I love the button idea! 🙂
Wow, talk about global zeitgeist!
A friend and I have been talking about doing this for ages, and decided to bite the bullet and buy casting supplies this week. It’s very reassuring to know it does work – your jewellery looks great xx
allie J. says
Oh, wow! How neat to be able to make your own buttons, especially. If you ever decide to set up an etsy shop, I think you would have LOTS of takers!!
These are beauties, especially the buttons! I would be in the queue if you ever decided to sell them. It must have been fun and really interesting learning this new craft.
Thank you so much for your kind words! You are doing an amazing job! I just love the chain brooches you’ve created! If you ever have any questions, let us know! We still have problems with molds. We should swap secrets some time!
Thank YOU so much for your kind words!! That really means so much to me coming from you! ❤ ❤
I’ve played with resins myself, but haven’t really gotten into the jewelry making side of it ~ button making however?? Awesome! Now I need to learn how to make molds to cast into…. Oy. There’s always something more to learn!
I am so inspired by your pieces though, they are simply stunning! And yes, I’d buy your buttons in a heart beat. ❤
bonita of Lavender & Twill
The first round of molding and buttons went way better than trials since, so I may be making less buttons than I thought. lol Soo thin and hard to deal with! But thank you. 😀
Eeeep!! I pink puffy heart plastic jewellery! With the exception of my wedding rings, it’s what populates my jewellery box! Throw in glitter and I’m sold!
Your pieces are fabulous! Well done, you!
Hi there… just wanted to say that these are really lovely! It’s so hard to come across this type of jewelry so I love the idea of making molds to reproduce the pieces exactly how you want them (with sparkles, of course!). Thank you for sharing!