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I’ve always loved big jewelry. Bold conversation pieces that can’t go unnoticed. Like the necklaces I used to see walking past Anthropologie’s window displays on my way to work. I loved seeing simple materials mixed in unexpected ways: chain with lace or ribbon with stones. And I loved how the background displays turned reclaimed and odd objects into something new, something just really really pretty.
Flash forward a few strolls past such displays, when I decided to make my own necklace from upcycled materials. I had a vision: circles draped in layers with a big, organic feel to it. For a while I debated over what material to use to: Shower rings? Too big. Metal rings? Too heavy.
Then one day while pouring a glass of milk it hit me. Those plastic rings around the tops of milk jugs! (Call it fate—I'm from Wisconsin… you know, the Dairy State.) I enlisted the help of extended family to collect rings from each jug of milk they bought. I loved that I could take something inconsequential, something that would otherwise be thrown away, and turn it into art.
Feeling inspired to help save the earth with your jewelry? Here’s a simplified version of the necklace, and how to make it yourself:
What you’ll need:
- 6 plastic rings collected from the tops of milk jugs
- 100% cotton fabric in the color of your choosing
- 12-15 inches of chain, depending on desired length (I usually go for a larger chain with some detailing for interest, but the one pictured here is simpler)
- 1 necklace clasp that matches the color of the chain
- 6 jump rings in size 10mm
- 2 jump rings in size 7mm (to connect the chain to the clasp)
- Needle nose pliers
- Fabric glue
And how to make it:
1. Cut strips of fabric 3/4 of an inch wide and 14 to 16 inches long. You’ll need one strip to cover each milk jug ring.
2. Wrap each ring with a single strip of fabric until it's completely covered.
Place a small drop of fabric glue—about half the size of a pea—on the inside of the ring, and wrap the strip an additional 2 to 3 times around the ring until you can’t see any fabric glue bleeding through.
For best results, allow rings to dry overnight. Then trim any excess length on the fabric strip from the ring.
3. Now, using needle nose pliers and referencing the diagram below, connect ring #1 to ring #2 using a 10mm jump ring. (Jump rings, in case you haven't worked with them, have small openings so you can pry them open to hook the rings through and them clamp them back together.)
Then, build upon this: connect ring #3 to #2 and so forth until rings #1 through #5 are connected and all exist on the same plane.
4. Ring #6 lies one plane above the other; connect it to the jump rings connecting rings #1 and #2, and connecting rings #4 and #5.
Since ring #6 exists one plane above the others, you’ll connect it with a jump ring to another jump ring.
5. Add desired length of chain to rings #1 and #5 connecting using a 10mm jump ring, then add the clasp to end of the chain using a 7mm jump ring to secure.
And that's it. Once you get the basic technique down, it's easy to make more elaborate, organic connections of rings—but I hope you love this simple, elegant version, too!
If you're not up for the DIY, you can shop more of Amanda Eggert's necklaces made from milk jug rings in her Etsy shop, Vintage Bleed.
What material are you constantly throwing away that you'd love to find a way to repurpose? Tell us in the comments, and we'll see what we can come up with.