Repurposing Vintage Bits and Baubles

By Beth Brubaker

A woman that many people considered their mentor and friend passed-away suddenly a few years ago. After family and close friends sorted through her jewelry and chose what they wanted as keepsakes, there remained a pile of vintage costume jewelry that had no home. I decided to make purse charms/ keychains using the deconstructed pieces, and since I also had her sewing kit, I made tassels out of her thread. This project can easily be duplicated from tag-sale finds. This is a basic-jewelry making project, the main skill needed is closing jump rings.

Here are the supplies you need:

  • Various beads and/or charms
  • Needle-nose jewelry pliers
  • Bent-nose jewelry pliers
  • Wire cutter Scissors
  • Jewelry wire
  • Assorted jump rings
  • Crimp beads
  • Charm clasps/key rings
  • Thread (for tassels)
  • Glue (E-3000 or similar)


Step 1: Cut a length of wire for the charm, I cut eight inch pieces to work with. Crimp one end, then thread the beads until you are happy with the result.

Step 2: Crimp the other end, then add jump ring and a key chain clasp or fob.

Step 3: To close a jump ring, twist it further than the starting point, then come back to the starting point. With practice, you can create a near-perfect connection. You can also add a drop of glue for extra security/durability of the connection.

Step 4: Make a tassel by winding thread around a piece of cardboard, tie a knot (double-thread is easier to work with), then add a jump ring. Remove from cardboard then wrap a strand of thread around the tassel using a dab of glue to hold the thread in place. Trim to desired length. Attach tassel – you’re done. You can also add charms or bead caps if you want some extra bling on your project.

It’s a Beautiful Day on Broadway in Westport has a display of the charms in honor of our mutual friend, Lynda Callon.

Beth Ann Brubaker became interested in DIY when her career in public service did not accommodate her sometimes expensive tastes. This project was inspired by the late Lynda Callon, who was a mentor and friend to countless people. As the Executive Director of the Westside CAN Center, Lynda worked tirelessly to ensure that the westside neighborhood in Kansas City was safe, welcoming and prospering. As a tenacious advocate for the community, Lynda gained national recognition for her efforts. More info on Lynda’s life and work can be found at