Intro: 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.
-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)
Step 1: Prepare Earrings or Pins
If you decided to use old earrings or costume pins for tacks, you'll have to clean up the back of each piece. (This step works for altering old jewelry for many other projects too.)
Use a pair of pliers to grip the earring post where it connects to the back of the earring. Slowly bend the post from side to side and twist it a little bit; the post should pop right off. If it leaves a little stub, you can use the wire cutters to trim off the excess. Just be sure to aim them downward when cutting so the metal doesn't hit your eyes if it flies upward.
For clip-on earrings and pins, do likewise. Grab the earring lever or pin hinge as close to the back of the jewelry piece as possible. Bend it side to side and twist slightly, if need be.
At this point, you should have decorative jewelry components with flat backs.
Step 2: Attach Tacks
Use a plastic toothpick, a popsicle stick, or a disposable chopstick to dab a drop of glue onto the earrings, pins, or buttons. If you use superglue, you can just carefully apply a glue drop with the attached nozzle. Place the tack head into the glue, pressing firmly to set. Allow this to sit tack-point-up for the required drying time (varies by glue, usually around 24 hours in all).
If you have a piece that will not sit flat -- a rounded earring component, for instance -- dab the glue onto the tack, not the decorative piece. Stick the tack into a piece of cardboard to allow it to stay flat in place; press the decorative piece onto the tack in this position. Allow this type of piece to sit tack-point-down, so gravity will hold the materials together while they dry.
And, there you have it. The project is complete. Try using a variety of materials for your own decor -- recycle if you can! Feel free to customize these to your own interests or those of someone you'd like to give them to. They are a simple decoration, but, made right, they are a thoughtful piece of art. Enjoy!