Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Design Process For Working With Unique Elements: Vintage Keys

The keys I found at Blue Mountain Flea Market...waiting to be made into something beautiful

(Part 1: Designing with Unique Elements)

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog so I thought I’d share with you what I did with the vintage keys that I found this past summer at the Blue Mountain flea market (Saylorsburg, PA). I knew these keys were going to upcycled into something special, and it was going to be some type of neck or wrist jewelry.


When I’m creating a new design I usually start out by first choosing the main elements/materials. For instance, I might come across some outstanding gemstone beads that really appeal to me and usually the wheels will start turning right away about what other kinds of stones or materials they might work well with in a design.

Other times I’ll be working with some unique object, as in this case, the keys, and then my design process is a little bit different. When designing around one special, unique element, that element is known as your focal element, or focus of your design…the first thing that attracts your eyes…and you build your design around that.

My Design Process for Working With Unique Elements

Here is how I go about my design process: I usually will keep the item close to me on my workbench, and although I’m not yet using them or designing with them, I’m looking at them a lot and at that point, I just let them sort of sit in my mind and usually within a day or two I have a pretty good idea of what other materials I want to use with them and what type of design I am going to make with them. At this point, I’m looking at the keys and studying things such as their color, shape, size and texture.

When choosing my secondary materials in a design, I think about whether the materials will complement each other, and I also think about whether they will work together to make a whole…meaning, that when you look at the design, you experience a soothing aesthetic whole, as opposed to seeing something that is discordant, choppy, or awkward. Just like when you listen to a piece of music and you notice a wrong note – well the same goes with design too – you want your design to flow, and create a feeling of unity…sorta like music for your eyes.

After my secondary materials are chosen I lay everything out, and often moving pieces around like a jigsaw puzzle, will work on the design until I feel it is organized the way I like, and only then will I begin to fabricate it- put it all together!

Part 2: Fabrication of Necklaces Made with Antique Keys 
(…to follow soon)

Anybody see my keys?


  1. I adore old keys. :: sigh :: So pretty!

  2. Awesome post. My process is very similar.

    I can't wait to see what you did with them! :)