Greenspace: Mabel woman gives 'old jewelry a new twist'
By Dawn Schuett
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
MABEL – With old buttons, vintage jewelry and some glue, Kirsten Wyffels has crafted a hobby turning last century's accessories into modern-day bling.
The mother of two from Mabel collects buttons and jewelry made decades ago and reuses them for new rings and pendants that she designs.
"It gives the old jewelry a new twist, a new purpose and a new life," Wyffels said.
She got the idea in September after attending the Junk Bonanza in Shakopee, Minn. While there, she saw the inventive things that artisans created with repurposed items.
"I looked at it and I thought, 'Gosh, I can do this,'" Wyffels said.
A week later, her grandmother passed away, so Wyffels put the idea on hold until December. Once she started making the jewelry, it became like therapy for Wyffels in coping with her grandmother's death.
"It was something different than my day job," she said. "I found a lot of joy in doing it."
She educated herself about the buttons made in previous eras, from bakelite and celluloid buttons, types of plastic buttons popular in the early 20th century, to the more fanciful rhinestone and cloth-covered buttons.
Buttons manufactured today are nothing like vintage buttons, which are so well made, Wyffels said. The vintage jewelry can be imperfect and the little flaws make it more interesting, she said. Wyffels buys old buttons and jewelry at antique stores and on eBay. People have given her jars of buttons collected by their grandmothers.
Wyffels makes adjustable rings, which go for $5 to $10, for adults and children by gluing together vintage buttons, sometimes layering them with new buttons for a more glamorous effect. She takes apart vintage brooches, clip earrings and pins to make pendants, which are available for $7 to $15. She's going to start selling decorated bobby pins and also sells pedestal plates and Scrabble tile signs.
She now has an inventory of about 500 rings and another 500 pendants. Before she began with the jewelry, Wyffels said, she wasn't much of a crafter.
"I don't sew and I never considered myself a scrapbooker but by gosh, I can glue," she said.
She originally intended to make a few pieces of jewelry for herself, but then she sold some to co-workers who encouraged her to get it into area shops.
Wyffels markets the jewelry under the name of Vintage Chic . It's sold at Generations of Harmony, an antique mall; two shops in Spring Grove, The Back Porch and Country Attic Primitives, and Lanesboro Local Marketplace in Lanesboro.
Dawn Schuett is a Farmington freelance writer.