Many things can be utilized in crafting unique hand made jewelry and accessories. I find inspiration literally everywhere, and give new life to things that might have been thrown away in the process.
1. Tiny Treasures
I have jars filled with springs, gears, screws, washers, and other small parts from old toys of my children’s that I like to use when I can. You never know when one of these tiny tidbits might come in handy on any given project.
2. Old furniture hardware
I save old furniture hardware, even when the furniture itself has to go. You can often find boxes filled with an assortment of these at thrifts stores, flea markets, and antique stores as well. Besides being great for jewelry, belts, and other crafty items, these can actually come in handy should one go missing from a piece of furniture, cabinet, drawer, or decorative item.
3. Old jewelry
I used to shop around at flea markets, specifically looking for boxes of junk jewelry people were willing to get rid of for a buck or two. In fact, when I worked flea markets a bit myself, other vendors got so used to me doing this, that when they had such things at the end of the day, they would bring them to me. They usually either sold them to me very cheap, and often gave them to me, simply so that they would not have to lug them back home.
4. Old belts and purses
Especially when made of leather, or containing many decorative parts, such as studs, buckles, and metal loops, purses and belts can be of value, even when they are worn out beyond use. Some or all of the leather can often be reused. Even small leather scraps can be fashioned into a lovely jewelry item, or hair bow, and metal studs and other such trims can be invaluable in all sorts of projects.
5. Pieces of, well…anything!
Before throwing anything away, I examine it for parts I can reuse. Buttons from old shirts can go in my button tin, to save future shirts that might be missing one. Buckles and fasteners of all kinds can be given new life on a new piece, and even old wires can be striped and reused for their copper or other metal in wire wrapped jewelry and accessories. Old hair bows that have broken can still be utilized for their ribbons, lace, or tiny metal parts. The only limits are your own imagination, creativity, and ingenuity.
Source : Over 30 years as an artist, crafts-person, and trainer of others in these fields as well.