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Art & Antiques by Dr. Lori: Cool Ideas for the Not-so-Valuables

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by Lori Verderame

I have been known to say that just because something is old that doesn’t mean it is automatically valuable. I have junk in my house, my grandmother had junk in her house…sometimes it’s just older junk.

With those sage words of wisdom offered to the masses, here are some creative ideas about what to do with those keepsakes that you just can’t part with but you don’t want to just store away in a plastic tub for the rest of your life. Objects that have some value to you on some level but that really won’t make a big difference when it comes to cashing in are the objects that are the topic of this particular column.

Repurposing is very popular now. There are more people seeking out antiques and thrift store items in order to reuse or recycle them than those who just want to collect for collecting’s sake. Be sure you only repurpose those objects that really are not valuable.

Of course, you don’t want to repurpose that Chippendale side table or a Picasso drawing, so get it checked out before you move ahead. Once you know that you have a low value object, consider some creative ideas.

Piecing up the Plates

Plates can be among some of the most inexpensive collectibles that nearly everyone has hanging around the house, attic, or yard sale. Vintage decorative floral plates can be used at parties and even given away to guests as favors. They really spruce up a buffet line, block party, or family get together.

Look around your grandma’s, aunt’s, and neighbor’s cupboards and see if you can spot any plates. I have some chipped yet colorful examples from the 1970s hanging around my cabinets that would be prime examples for this project.

Some creative craft aficionados have taken such plates, broken them into pieces and used them in craft projects. Just break the inexpensive plates into 2 to 4 inch pieces and then use them as you would tiles. Some of the most popular repurposing objects for old plates are refrigerator magnets. Just simply stick an adhesive backed magnet to the back of your plate piece. Some damaged or chipped plates have been recycled into a decorative concrete frame around the kid’s sandbox or kiddie pool area. They will look great stucco-ed or glued onto wooden birdhouses, garden jardinaires or bird baths, and trivets. Some folks have used broken plates as walkways leading to a garden shed or pool house. These are some great ways to use those damaged and not so valuable floral plates and keep the memories, too.

Picking up Jewelry

Damaged jewelry or fancy buttons—particularly cheap pieces of costume jewelry that can no longer be repaired or worn—can be reused and made into really cool art objects. Damaged pieces of costume jewelry can be the source for jewelry pictures by sewing or gluing the broken pieces onto a piece of velvet, felt, or fabric. Then, the textile is framed as you would a collage. Old broken jewelry or pieces thereof can be made into a brooch tussy mussy or brooch bouquet comprised of both fresh flowers and colorful fake gemstone pins in the shape of flowers. Country music star, Miranda Lambert carried a brooch bouquet at her country themed wedding. It is a cool union of vintage and Victorian, fresh and faux.

Some pieces of costume jewelry are valuable so be sure to check out the value with an appraisal before you start taking apart the jewelry pieces that are still intact. However, the damaged pieces are fair game for your crafters out there.

Dr. Lori Verderame is the award winning TV antiques appraiser on Discovery channel's hit TV show, Auction Kings.

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