Published on July 1st, 2011 | by Karen Lee2
Green Crafter: Alex Keller
Buying vintage is the ultimate way of being green. Recycling what we already have is one way of not requiring new raw material and reusing items. Alex Keller has a mission of keeping her business as green as possible by redesigning vintage jewelry and selling vintage housewares. She first started with her jewelry shop and when her vintage collection got bigger, she started her vintage shop.
1. You have two shops on Etsy that are eco-friendly; a jewelry shop and a vintage shop. Tell us a little about your jewelry shop. How did you start making jewelry?
I’ve been making jewelry on and off for years. Back in college I made friendship bracelets and worked with seed beads on a loom. When I lived in Chicago, I started beading and wire wrapping and sold my work in a couple of shops there. After I had my son, I decided to stay home.
One day I pulled out all of my beading supplies and made a necklace from an old piece I took apart. Living in Tucson, I have annual access to the premier gem and mineral show in the world. There are so many vendors with beads and findings, it’s amazing!
I was on my way to the show a couple of years ago, and stopped at resale shop similar to Buffalo Exchange (which started in Tucson). There was so much jewelry in the case …. I thought why not trade for some of that, take it apart, and make new pieces from those. So that’s how it all started.
2. Tell us briefly about the process of redesigning vintage jewelry. How and where do you get your design ideas from?
My first designs were inspired by pieces that I saw at large retain[sic] chains. I thought, “I can make that!” I have binders full of tear sheets from magazines, too. I began selling my work on consignment, and the shop manager gives me lots of ideas – what sells, what is popular.
Other artists have given me inspiration as well as friends who have an idea of a piece of jewelry they want. More recently, I’ve been working with a mid century furniture shop on some pieces inspired by designers of that era.
3. How do you find vintage items for your vintage shop? or is that a secret?
It’s not a secret! I frequent thrift stores & resale shops. I’d love to go to more garage and estate sales, but it’s tough with a five year old in tow.
4. What is your tip on shopping for vintage?
That’s easy: Buy what you like! I think it’s well worth it if it is something you truly enjoy. I tend to gravitate to vintage office supplies, kitchen items, and I have a large addiction to vintage wooden blocks. Oh, and books! I had to give up buying vintage chairs – just not enough room!
5. What new green crafting technique(s) do you want to learn?
I love anything to do with paper… so I’m currently in search of something to craft with vintage paper and books. And in the future, I’d love to learn metalsmithing so I could make jewelry with recycled metals.
Thank you Alex for sharing your vintage crafting and thrifting tips!
[Images courtesy of Alex Keller, used with permission]