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Jewelry, sans the jewels ; Designers play with nuts-and-bolts necklaces, postage stamp pendants, tiddly-wink earrings

Heather Mordaunt sees beauty in rusty nails, nuts and washers. Karol Kirberger tinkers with miniature vintage perfume bottles and keys. Barbara H. Willis plays with recycled Bakelite game pieces.

All are local jewelry designers who incorporate these unique objects into their creations. Others use vintage stamps, coins, fossils, feathers, even doll shoes.

Oftentimes, they add beads, shells, pearls, semi-precious stones and other more "traditional" materials.

"The juxtaposition of the old and the new is what I like," said Kirberger, whose jewelry is available at Wild Things, 224 Lexington Ave.

Her necklaces feature vintage pins on some, mini perfume bottles, 1-inch souvenir pocket knives and keys on others. She shops local flea markets and also has a source who lives outside Paris scouring flea markets for additional treasures.

Feathers, fossils, coins, leather, and bone and horn beads are among the materials found in the Morgen Love jewelry line, which also can be seen at Wild Things. Her pieces are handcrafted from natural materials, semi-precious stones, found treasures and oxidized metals.

Mordaunt's supplies for her hardware line of jewelry come mostly from her father, Peter Mordaunt, who is a carpenter. For years she enjoyed poking around his basement workshop, opening drawers of "rusty treasures."

"I always knew I wanted to do something with them, but I didn't know what. Then I started working with resin, and it was the perfect way to preserve them the way I discovered them," said Mordaunt, who graduated in 2006 from Buffalo State College with a bachelor of fine arts degree in design.

For one necklace, she incorporated two nuts, a washer and her own metalwork with scribed lines "to enhance the mechanical feel of it," Mordaunt said.

To create the pendant, she floated the hardware in resin and polished it after it set. For this particular necklace, she added a hook from an old canvas strap and an oxidized chain.

Prices range from $20 for earrings to $200 for more intricate necklaces. Pieces from the hardware line are sold at the Museum Store at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

>History meets whimsy

Diane Campanella, of the Town of Tonawanda, is drawn to glass-encased vintage pictures and postage stamps from different countries.

One necklace, on a titanium chain that can be twisted and folded in many different ways, is available at Thin Ice, 719 Elmwood Ave. It's priced at $120.

Or how about a pair of earrings made from Barbie shoes? These are created by Stephanie Molnar and sell for $8 a pair at River Art Gallery & Gifts, 82 Main St., North Tonawanda.

Jewelry like this captures people's attention, said shop manager Mary Grace Ohrum.

"The recycling factor is important to a lot of people; we try to get a lot of things made from recycled materials in here. And it's the quirkiness of it, too. It's a conversation starter," Ohrum said.

Nancy Celeste, of East Aurora, is one of a community of metal clay artists who use a product made from reclaimed silver derived from film processing. In one of her designs seen at Thin Ice, she began with a leaf from her garden.

"I made a slip out of clay by watering it down and painted one layer at a time on the back of the leaf," Celeste explained.

"After 12 to 15 layers, and it was dry, I peeled the leaf off. Then I fired it in a kiln, and it turned into fine silver," she said.

Barbara H. Willis' creations are just plain fun. She calls her jewelry line From Helen Gaughn, a name she made up, and it includes pieces made from Bakelite poker chips, tiddly-winks and mahjong tiles from the 1920s to 1950s.

Before putting them on new wires or chains, Willis cleans and polishes the pieces.

"They're gorgeous. The colors are exquisite. They have a luxurious feel to them, and many of them are translucent," said Willis, whose jewelry is available at River Art Gallery & Gifts and Everything Annie Likes, a vintage and secondhand women's clothing and housewares store at 83 Webster St., North Tonawanda.

Earrings range from $12 to $18; necklaces, $25 to $30.

"The jewelry isn't serious; it's all for fun," Willis said.


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