A few years ago, one of my thrift store searches yielded a collection of vintage pins/buttons including an old Red Cross pin that was given out to those who successfully completed the beginners swimming class. Like many of my finds, I initially had no idea how I might use the pin, but I appreciated the boldness of the graphics and tucked it away, waiting for the right inspiration to reveal itself.
With the recession of 2008 came the right inspiration.
Prices at the grocery store were rising, my retirement account was shrinking, preparation for college bills was looming.....I felt like I was suffocating with fear.
I felt like I was sinking.
There was my inspiration!
That angst manifested itself in a pendant stamped with
'I'M JUST TRYING TO STAY AFLOAT'
The necklace that I made was included in my inventory for that year's holiday show at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford.
As I worked one of my shifts during the show, I saw a man casually glance at my work as he walked past my display.
He stopped when he noticed this necklace, took it from the display to study it, then put it back and walked away.
It was so interesting to watch him come back several times to look at and hold the necklace.
On his 4th or 5th return, he took the necklace and purchased it.
I felt satisfied thinking that this necklace that had special meaning for me had also connected with this man and would hopefully resonate with the intended recipient.
I decided that I needed to find more of these Red Cross pins....easier said than done.
Thrift store searches.....no luck.
Internet searches.....found some, but always too expensive.
Then, a lovely thing happened.
A friend who was aware of my search had found a collection of the Beginner Swimmer pins online, purchased them, and sent most of them to me.
She also makes jewelry and kept some of the pins to make her own, inspired interpretations which I look forward to seeing.
I got to work making a new and improved version of my original necklace.
I used a similar bezel that was cut from an old copper pipe and soldered onto a brass base.
Riveted to the bottom of the brass base is a segment of my old tissue box holder that continues to come in handy.
Wanting more textural interest than my original version, I chose to stamp the staying afloat sentiment onto a piece of German silver which was also riveted to the brass base.
Using the bold colors of the Red Cross pin for inspiration, I wire wrapped a chain with carnelian, vintage red glass beads that were rescued from an old necklace, honey jade and another creamy colored bead of uncertain origin.
Tiny carnelian beads were also wire wrapped and dangle from the bottom of the pendant.
The necklace was finished with a handmade clasp made from recycled copper wire.