Here's the scenario:
My friend got some boxes of junk from someone who was a friend of a relative. The fellow was cleaning out his garage. One large box was full to overflowing with costume jewelry. Actually, it was a horrible mangled up ball of broken necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc. She stayed up late going through it, trying to make sense of what she had, untangling chain, salvaging whatever parts she could. Much of it was so broken and grungy there was no point in doing anything with it.
But, at the bottom of the box, were many logo tags with the name of the company who made the jewelry, on them. Some of the pieces in the tangled mess also had price tags on them.
After doing a little checking, the guy who was cleaning out his garage lived next door to a facility where are the returns and repairs for this brand, were sent. The stuff they considered to be beyond repair was put out for the trash truck. The neighbor spied the box and asked if it would be okay to take it for his wife's crafting hobbies, and they said sure, take it!
Here's the dilemma: my artist friend is concerned that perhaps some of the components were made expressly for this company and that she might somehow be in violation of some legality, were she to take and use them.
What's your take on that? Feel free to comment on this post.
This is my belief:
In my artist friend's case, using bits from the box would not be damaging anything of value. It was true trash, nothing that could be repaired, no huge collectable value---it's stuff from a contemporary home party line. No harm done on that level.
As far as having issues with using the components in a legal sense, I'd have to say, I'm not a lawyer! BUT! Warehouses are FULL of material like this. Where did THEY get this stuff? Well, not from dumpsters.
Many times job houses are contacted by companies who are going out of business, discontinuing a line, or have excess manufacturing inventory. The items are then purchased by these warehouses, either directly or at pallet sales/auctions. I myself have purchased discontinued/damaged manufacturers' inventory from time to time. Sometimes the stuff worked out great; sometimes I bought a sight unseen load of horse doody. But that's another story.....
Here's the deal: Resale of components, loose stones, manufacturers' old or damaged inventory is no different than reselling vintage jewelry that someone owned and put out at a yard sale or in an antiques store.
There is ONE big NO-NO, however: Those tags in the bottom of the box with logos on them.
You NEVER repurpose any component, tag, clasp, etc that has a designer's logo or signature on it. It creates confusion about the maker of the piece and is misleading to a buyer. In the past, unscrupulous jewelry 'artists' faked many pieces of designer jewelry, in particular, Miriam Haskell, by cabbaging the metal swing tags or even name plates off the vintage pieces, and applying them to their new forgery---sometimes even using old Haskell parts or loose Haskell pearls.
Unwitting new collectors/dealers bought these pieces only to have them outed as just what they were: fakes!
You can read more about this in the book, MIRIAM HASKELL JEWELRY by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff.
So....No matter how lovely that clasp is, if you flip it over and a name is embossed into the back, unless there is some way you can totally obliterate that name so it is no longer recognizable---that clasp goes in the garbage. It's the best way to respect and honor that line, by making SURE no one ever gets hold of it for the wrong reasons.
If any of the components have the company name embossed on them, it's the same: you don't use them. Into the trash. If you resell them, the chances are great they will end up in the wrong sort of creative hands.
So..... to my artistic friend: Enjoy the fruits of all that detangling labor, use the lobster claws, chain, bibs and bobs and have fun. Throw the tags out.
If you follow me at this blog, at my newsletter, or at YouTube, you probably already know I am no huge fan of the repurposing trend. This is NOT because I'm a vendor of components; it is because I began my life in this trade as an antiques dealer specializing in vintage costume jewelry. And I've done my own share of repurposing...but then....I KNEW WHAT I HAD, I knew the value of the components and the pieces I repurposed.
My respect for the work of those gone before is a matter of record, and if there is any catch phrase I would preach regarding the recycling/repurposing trend, it would be this:
KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE, FIRST.
Far too many have no clue about the material they have found, inherited, discovered in a flea, purchased in a shop. The trend is NOT NEW, it's been done for decades.....how many of you have found one of these Christmas tree arrangements done on black velvet, at yard sales?
If you pull the clusters of stones off the velvet, you're gonna find signatures of important pieces more often than not. At one time, all rhinestone and costume jewelry was viewed as JUNK. People thought it was fine! to desecrate Gramma's old jewelry collection or scarf around through fleas looking for little treasures to break apart.
And today, far too many view bags and boxes of old jewelry the same as they view cheap components on sale in a dump bin at Michael's. I'm here to tell you: even some BROKEN pieces have far more value that anything you will end up making from them.
I am *not* saying that you should revere every broken brooch or tangled mass of chain as something to be stored and insured! LOL Goodness, no. Sure! It's okay to use the bits and parts....but probably not okay to break things apart that are not broken.
Educate yourself FIRST to know what you have, as you may well build your own design business on the back of income garnered from selling those vintage pieces, rather than redesigning them.
If you know what you have, the element is viable, looks good in your new design and it won't hurt anything/anyone, then by ALL MEANS, repurpose it.
Education first, repurpose second.
You might like to review these videos.....they may help you learn and grow in design knowledge as well as fund your new ventures:
I will be making more videos along these lines as time goes on, and I hope you find them helpful! And please understand, my commentary here is not meant to squelch anyone's creativity.....only to help you use it in the most positive, beneficial way.