Eco-Friendly Thumbtacks from Recycled Old Jewelry, Buttons, Stones, etc.

I do a lot of arts projects with salvaged materials, and these tacks were a simple, fun endeavor. I love how they recycle little pieces and can be customized for whoever wants them since they incorporate a range of materials.

Make-to-Learn Youth Contest

What did you make?
I made a small collection of tacks -- for bulletin boards, walls, posters, etc. -- out of several different materials. I make jewelry as a hobby, and I try to incorporate recycled components whenever possible: parts from old broken jewelry, vintage buttons, sea glass and stones. Thus, I often have many of these materials on hand, so I was able to use some costume earrings, buttons, and stones for the tacks. I only needed the help of my pliers and jewelry glue.

How did you make it?
With this project, I wanted to create an item that kept with the recycled theme but would work for guys and girls of many ages. I had a couple of friends over one evening, and they wanted to help me with some arts projects (I'm preparing for a big show, so my materials are scattered all over the house). One of my friends is a guy, and I wanted to make something he could put to use -- not jewelry -- so I came up with the tacks. Initially, we were making them with decorative vintage pins, but we also added in some single earrings.

Where did you make it?
I made this project at home. I actually taught it to my friends along with several other of my older projects while visiting in my living room. I want to design eco-conscious jewelry and accessories for a career, so this was another accessory I could add to my collection. It is sort of an exercise in making the available resources do and creating, both practices I am always working on in my art classes and hobbies. 

What did you learn?
I learned that nearly anything can be turned into something, given a purpose -- even a most simplistic function like being a thumbtack. The first time I made these, I worked primarily with vintage pins. To get a good set of photos, I actually made a second batch of tacks, and this way, I managed to incorporate a wider variety of materials -- buttons, old earrings, stones, etc. I did not have many significant issues along the way -- my biggest one was the tacks sliding off of the decorative components during the drying. I remedied this by propping the tacks on other small objects to level them as the glue set. And, I actually used a thicker glue the second time around, so the tacks set in place sooner. If I were to do this again, I would use other materials -- game pieces, puzzle pieces, beads, and so on -- to further extend the possibilities for this project. I think that's the best part of this project -- making something from seemingly nothing, recycling, and just plain being creative.

Materials list:
-plain metal tacks
-strong glue (I used E600 jewelry glue, but superglue/crazy glue would work as well)
-recyclable materials: single post earrings, old pins, buttons, flat-sided stones, etc.
-wire cutters (optional)

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That's a great idea! I know of a craft reuse store that always has bunches of unmatched earrings too, this would be perfect for that!