New Treasure: Key Neckace



This gift from Mr. MVP comes from an antique dealer who said it was from Mexico. It’s marked 329, so it’s more likely a mailbox or front door key than one used to open a hidden trunk filled with books and letters. I have a thing for old keys and this one feels like it can unlock treasures.

Good Luck Charm


I have always loved the idea of a good luck charm, even if I have not always been inclined to believe in luck or fate or things that cannot be explained by science. Still, I love charms and trinkets with a history, and my mother has passed on many charms from the jewelry box I loved to open and explore when I was a kid. This typewriter charm was one she received when working her first job; engraved on the back is the message, “Good luck from accounting.” I wore it recently for a job interview–and got the job. For as long as I can remember, my mom has been a confidence-booster, so it might be that I reached for the charm that day seeking luck. I’m glad I did.

Zen Place on a Chain

My favorite vintage items are the ones that I’ve had before they were vintage. I’ve had this beach scene charm since I was a kid. Closing my eyes and picturing the beach is the trick I use to calm myself. This is like wearing my zen place around my neck.

Key Charms: New Etsy Necklaces

New to my Etsy shop [editor’s note: the shop has closed]: Keys covered in words from a recycled old book (a paperback copy of “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin with yellowed pages and a missing cover). Here are two out of a dozen recently added to Miss Stefanie’s House of Crafts & Collectibles.

DIY: Wine Cork Necklace Holder

I’ve collected quite a lot of wine corks, with vague notions of getting crafty with them one day. My need for a better necklace holder was just the incentive I needed to upcycle a bunch. This was very simple: all you need are wine corks, a piece of cardboard, a glue gun, small nails, and a sawtooth hanger.

Cut a piece of cardboard from a cereal box, about 1-inch wide. Use glue gun to evenly apply glue to the back of a wine cork and place it on the cardboard to stick. Then glue a small amount to the side of the wine cork before applying the next, so the wine corks are glued to the cardboard and to each other. Continue until the cardboard strip is filled. When glue has solidified, gently push in a small nail into each wine cork. On the back of the cardboard strip, attach the wall hanger in the center. I applied my corks a bit unevenly so each side curves down a bit, but you could also make it straight. Voila.

Double the Pleasure: Cameos and Mermaids

In the style section for Sunday’s NY Times, the shopping snapshots feature showed cameo brooches and rings worn by stylish fashion editors and other taste-makers. I’ve long loved cameos and always like to see a vintage accessory appreciated. For me, it’s like is a tiny piece of art. I like that cameos are carved out of seashells and generally reveal one side of the subject in only one color but with much detail, providing a bit of mystery (find more about the beautiful art of carving them in this much older NYT story).

I also love mermaids and my mini-collection of cameos includes a mermaid cameo ring (pictured). It was an eBay find and I remember being thrilled to see it during a general search for cameo rings. Many others share my love of mermaids, but the mermaid cameo was an unexpected, double-the-pleasure discovery. (Like accidentally dropping a piece of chocolate in peanut butter and realizing they tasted better together?) This cameo one is set in a sterling silver ring and the siren is sitting with her arms wrapped around her tail, resting peacefully (and, I imagine, soaking up the sun’s rays before diving back into the sea).

Fashion Flashback: High School Rings

During a recent family visit, I found the high school ring of my cousin’s husband and suggested that my cousin wear it on a chain as a necklace. That’s when I wished I had my own high school ring. I wore rings in high school and had already developed a fondness for jewelry, but I had no interest back then in a high school ring. Then Mr. MVP told me he didn’t get one, either. So this sent me to Ebay and Etsy to search for castaway high school rings. I found this one on Etsy and chose it for its color (iridescent blue, so dreamy) and high school name (Pleasant Grove High, which sounds like the name of a school in a book that would be made into a dark indie movie with a really great soundtrack). The Etsy seller wrote that she purchased the ring with a lot of others from an estate sale; it was dirt-cheap and now I have it hanging on a black cotton string made from a recycled T-shirt, with two other childhood rings.

DIY: Key to NY

I found an old key to a NY apartment and was inspired to make it a necklace. Simple DIY decoupage job: I tore words from the yellowed pages of a thrift store paperback copy of a favorite book (“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin) and glued them on one side of the key. The key is hanging from a chord made of a strip of black jersey from an old T-shirt.

How to Look Punk (Or, Well, Almost)

I love this ’zine from the ’70s on “how to look punk” and its declaration that the symbol of punk is the safety pin (via Boing Boing, via threadbared). One of my favorite ’80s accessories was a watch with a band made entirely of safety pins (similar to this one). Lately I’ve been wearing a vintage gold-toned safety pin with faux pearls on a string (made of excess fabric from a recycled T-shirt). Not quite punk—but a nod in that direction.

Love on a String

I believe that handmade items are the best gifts. I was having a bad day when I found this in my desk: a beaded string necklace made by my niece Mary. I recognized her initials when she gave it to me, but I asked about the others: “That stands for Aunt Stef,” she told me. That’s a good memory to cancel the badness of the day.

Hankie Friendship Bracelets

Are you ever too old for friendship bracelets? I say no. These upcycled bracelets are made from an old handkerchief; I simply braided strips of the fabric and secured the end with a few stitches. I like the slight messiness of the stray threads and ties. I also like making something new from an item that was collecting dust in a drawer or closet. I used a lavender and floral-printed hankie for this trio—for me and two friends going to see a Prince concert. (Accessorizing in purple seems necessary for the Artist Once Again Known As Prince.)

Better Than Before: Upcycled Bracelets

My favorite DIY projects are ones that involve taking something you have and making it better—more functional or simply more fun and stylish—using materials I already have. Before I added some embellishments to these two bracelets, they didn’t come out of my jewelry box very often. The one with the subway tokens now has the addition of glass beads from a broken chandelier I found years ago at a yard sale, along with some freshwater pearls from a broken bracelet. The silver Tiffany ID bracelet now has tulle ties from a leftover roll of tulle I got when I made a hair accessory for a family wedding.

Irish Pride: Upcycled Accessories

Showing my pride on St. Patrick’s Day today with these accessories, modeled on Buttons, my childhood teddy bear. The headband is a stip of fabric from a men’s necktie with shamrocks; the Claddagh charm is hanging on a strip of fabric from a recycled T-shirt. 

Fine Feathered Trend

Here’s a vendor selling feather jewelry on the boardwalk in Venice—a sure sign that a trend has hit the mainstream (and maybe already peaked?). It’s another ’80s style comeback and I like this one a whole lot more than the return of the scrunchie. When I was a teen, wearing feathers in your hair was all the rage and we wore colorful dyed ones attached to roach clips. (Because I was a good girl, I had no idea about the more common use of a roach clip—neither did my grandmother when she bought it for me at a shop in the mall.) The one I had for my hair was lavender and I clipped it behind my ear so that it peaked out from underneath my permed curls. Now I’m less inclined to wear actual feathers but am still drawn to the feather motif and found some cute handmade and vintage items on Etsy from fellow sellers on the EcoEtsy team to make a “Birds of a feather…” treasury.

Eyes Everywhere

JR, the artist awarded the TED prize for his photographic murals, left his mark in my neighborhood last week with a close-up of a man’s piercing eyes. Yesterday, I saw a guy wearing a shirt with a print of the classic cover of “The Great Gatsby.” This morning, NY magazine’s “The Cut” blog posted a fashion week shot of a runway model with a Man Ray eye hat. Just purchased from Etsy: this milagro eye charm, said to offer protection from the evil eye. I’ll attach it to a necklace or bracelet.