Choose to Reuse: Beads, Buttons, and Bettering the Earth

By Maura Sheedy – 12th Grade, Oakland Catholic High School

...After covering the first ReMakers Workshop at the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (PCCR) earlier this summer, I thrilled to return for another workshop, entitled “Jewelry Remixing.” I showed up wearing a favorite necklace of mine, a chain of geometric figures, in honor of the workshop’s theme. Nora and Laura, workers at PCCR who coordinated and instructed the workshop, complimented my accessory, but also pointed out that I could have easily made a similar necklace with supplies from the workshop.

“You would have made it for less, could have had the freedom to design it your own way, and most importantly, it would have been better for the environment,” Nora concluded.

Jewelry Remixing

Jewelry Remixing

That was, in fact, what the participants did at the workshop.  They upcycled old or broken costume jewelry donations, added “alterna beads” (other reclaimed materials that typically aren’t used for jewelry making), and created a new piece of jewelry or an accessory. All of the items used in the workshop would have been thrown away, filling up already overflowing landfills.

Some of the many materials!

Some of the many materials!

Hard at work

Hard at work

Six girls, all bright, creative, and eager, attended the workshop. Laura and Nora began by giving the students a behind-the-scenes tour of PCCR. Some had been there before, but they pointed out the different items that PCCR has for sale everyday. All items are donated and are reasonably priced so that anyone, professional or aspiring artist, may purchase to reuse in any way they desire. Laura and Nora laughed, saying that things were a little messy right now, but adding that messy only means lot of people are creating (although I would disagree – the place is extremely organized).

They also explained PCCR’s mission of resource conservation. The participants listened intently and discussed their knowledge of restoration, renewing, and recycling (the 3Rs). They all agreed that it was much better to use things again, not just throw things outs, in order to help sustain our environment.

Rings and other bling

Rings and other bling

Laura and Nora showed them that following the 3Rs is easy and fun. After all, making jewelry with recycled materials is an enjoyable way to do your part. After a brief discussion on the different types of materials, clasps, findings, and tools, participants got to work. They were free to make any kind of jewelry they wanted, from earrings to anklets to barrettes, with some help from the adults. The girls eagerly went to the supply table to pick up whatever interested them to gain ideas and provide a little inspiration. They didn’t have to think for long before starting to whip out all kind of pieces, each truly a work of art.

A completed barette

A completed barrette

After over an hour of creating, numerous pieces were made and participants were able to take home some extra materials to finish at home. They took a short quiz in order to receive their digital badge from City of Learning and were awarded both the remakers badge and the re-jewel badge.

Proudly wearing her accesory

Proudly wearing her accessory

Nora and Laura, along with all involved at PCCR, hope that people simply “choose to reuse.” After all, we only have one planet and as its inhabitants, were are responsible for taking care of our environment. Luckily, with a little creativity, saving the plant is easy and fun to do!



"Creative Reuse"

“Creative Reuse”


Maura Sheedy 1Maura Sheedy is a rising senior at Oakland Catholic High School who lives in Thornburg.  She previously has been a part of Young Writers Institute.  She considers random things she has seen on the Internet to be her muse for her writing. She enjoys lacrosse, cheer, dance, and blogging.




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