Item of the Day: DinnerWear Jewelry
April 16, 2018
One person’s trash is another’s…jewelry?
Designer Mary-Ann Wood and her company DinnerWear Jewelry creates treasures out of discarded antique china plates, cups and saucers that are chipped, cracked or broken. The sentimental memories from these vintage or more recently owned items? Preserved forever.
“The jewelry pieces I craft aren’t just one-of-a-kinds and beautiful, they carry great sentimental value to the wearer,” Wood said. “They are worn, shared and passed on. The fact that each piece has been made by hand from a china piece that’s probably been in the family for years or even generations only makes it that much more special. It’s very gratifying for me and the customer.”
DinnerWear Jewelry takes broken antique china and turns it into beautiful necklaces, earrings, brooches and lariats.
April 16, 2018
Wood was born with a keen eye for geometry and the way things fit together, as well as an appreciation for beautiful and artistic creations. “I’ve always been fascinated by working with tools, and I’ve always wanted to repurpose things,” she said. “I’d buy vintage clothing that was way too large, for example, and cut it down into something I could wear that had my stamp.”
So the interest and the talent was there from an early age, and it evolved over time with regard to her china collection. “In later years I started to play with cups and saucers in a different way,” she said. “I had a lot of broken pieces, and I hated the thought of just throwing them away. I wanted to do something with the pretty designs on them. That’s what led to my Eureka moment.”
Artisan creates jewelry from broken china
May 11, 2018
Mary-Ann's father did work with leaded glass windows and passed on to his daughter an appreciation for glass and the skills to become an artisan. “Dad taught me how to solder at age 13,” Wood said. “He was quite the craftsman. He repurposed all the marbles at the aquarium, which had been installed in error, and re-sold them to the gift shop, where they were retailed as marine objects.”
Inspired by her father, Wood became a glass artist, a pastime she pursued on the side while helping run the picture framing business, but over time she found glasswork to be tedious and time-consuming. “Plus it was a crowded field,” she pointed out. “Everybody was making these wonderful mosaics and other glass creations. I wanted something new, but I didn’t know what.”
An antique china plate that's chipped, cracked or broken might be trash. But for Mary-Ann, it's treasure.
April 16, 2018
Wood works out of a spacious studio in Franklin, Mass., with hours by appointment, and is fast coming up on her 20th year in business, the last three of which have been dedicated full-time to DinnerWear Jewelry. Prior to that she split her time between jewelry design and the longtime family picture framing business, begun by her mother and father in 1968 and closed in 2015.
Now, she has a loyal following, mostly the result of the arts and crafts fairs and other events she attends in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the region. Her fan base will only get bigger with the launch of a website, www.DinnerWearJewelry.com, that’s attracting new business. An expanded menu now features alternative bridal bouquets and men’s jewelry, mainly tie tacks and cuff links.
DinnerWear Jewelry uses designs cut from fractured unfortunates and turns them into keepsake jewelry.
April 16, 2018
The process of turning a chipped or cracked piece of china into a beautiful, wearable jewelry item is, understandably, a precise and painstaking task. It’s one that involves many tools, each one serving a specific purpose for cutting different materials. These include saws, grinders, files and drills. It’s slow and delicate work. Each piece is cleaned in-between steps of hand-carving.
Final detailing enhances each piece before it becomes jewelry. And then – voila! – the end result: a treasured piece of jewelry that the user can not only appreciate for its beauty and significance as a family heirloom, but actually wear, literally wrapping oneself in personal family history. “I call it bringing the past into the present,” Mary-Ann remarked, “and who can’t appreciate that?”
Mary-Ann painstakingly hand-makes each and every DinnerWear Jewelry piece she sells, using equipment like this drilling machine.
June 23, 2018
The idea for repurposing old, degraded china pieces into lovely wearable jewelry (that is also often a family heirloom) is one that developed over time. “Many children are fascinated with fancy dinnerware and tea sets, and I was no exception,” Mary-Ann said. “I always wanted to help set the table for Sunday and holiday dinners with grandmother’s ‘best china’ and silver.”
It was then, as child, that she started her own personal collection of china. It should be noted that Mary-Ann grew up in a nurturing, art-filled environment. Her father, before he went into picture framing, was an engineer who helped build the New England Aquarium, among other projects. Her mother was a watercolorist who produced art and taught art classes at the framing studio.