October 12 Bead Bazaar & October 18 Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show

by mary October 19, 2014

The last 2 weekends have been a great time for finding gemstones & beads!

Steve & I attended the Des Moines Bead Bazaar at the State Fairgrounds last Sunday afternoon & came away with some great finds!  Starting from the top right & moving clockwise, is an ocean jasper, turitello agate (looks like fossil pieces), canyon jasper bead, brazilian agate bead, & botswana agate; the pink stone in the middle is pink rhodonite.

We also picked up some strings of small jet, black onyx & shell beads.

And I even won something in a drawing (I almost never win anything) -- this brass anaclastic cuff bracelet!  Anaclastic forming is something I would really like to try sometime!

I was pretty happy with everything I found!

Then, yesterday, we went to the Des Moines Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show -- also at the State Fairgrounds.  This show only comes once a year in October & is my very favorite gem show!  They also have some of the most amazing fossils! 

Although I didn't find as many gemstones there, I am especially excited about the ones I did pick up -- including the following, starting in the lower left corner & going clockwise -- 2 fabulous boulder opals, fossilized coral & this amazing bumblebee jasper!

I also picked up 4 small oddly shaped gemstone pieces for only a quarter each!  I have no idea what I'll do with them yet, but for a quarter each, I'll feel comfortable experimenting!

While we were there, I also saw these really cool trilobite specimens, & decided a trilobite would make a great model for the chasing & repousse class I'm taking at the Art Center.  The exhibitor was kind enough to allow me to take pictures -- check this guy out!  I am really looking forward to starting to work on him tomorrow at class!  I'll be sure to post a picture of my piece when it's done.

An amazing 2 weeks here in Des Moines -- I couldn't be happier with all that I found!

And, as always, thanks for reading & for supporting small businesses!

And to see my jewelry, check out my website at http://paulinesjewelrybox.com!


Filed Under: Inspiration | Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

Treasure Hunting at What Cheer & Fairgrounds Flea Markets -- October 3 & 4, 2014

by mary October 5, 2014

This weekend was a great one for treasure hunting -- on Friday, we were able to check out the flea market at What Cheer & then Saturday morning, we went to the flea market at the State Fairgrounds!  Made for a full weekend!

What Cheer -- What Cheer was a challenge this time, as the temp was in the upper 40s/low 50s & the winds were really strong -- I'm guessing 25 - 35 mph).  Not the coldest What Cheer flea market we've ever gone to, but probably the windiest -- As a result, probably 10% of the dealers weren't set up at all or had their things covered in plastic to protect them from blowing away!

Despite the cold & the wind, we did find some fun things for jewelry making & photography/display . . . including this cigar box full of odds & ends like the doll arm you can see, as well as keys, garters (I've been wondering how they might work in earrings) & monopoly houses & hotels!

Also found some more fish lure pieces -- I made a pair of earrings out of fish lure beads & shiny pieces recently & really liked them, so have been on the look-out for more!

And I found this really nice cedar box -- I have a couple already & use them to display jewelry at shows & as a background for photographs.

Also found several Halloween decorations -- they'll be fun to put out at this time of year with the rest of my vintage Halloween things, plus will make fun props for photographing my Halloween-themed jewelry!

Steve also found a really nice old wooden easel for me.  He'll make some type of backboard for me that I can hang necklaces on at shows -- am really looking forward to that.

Fairgrounds Flea Market -- Fortunately, the flea market at the fairgrounds is in the 4-H Building, so we didn't have to brave the weather Saturday morning!  Although we didn't find as much as we did at What Cheer, I did pick up a couple of things.

I really like the graphics on this ink blotter from 1950 that I found -- I think it will make another great prop for photographing & displaying jewelry.

The other thing I picked up was 2 bags of used/vintage chain from a dealer that is there fairly regularly & always brings bags of chain for me to consider.  I was only going to buy one at first, but he offered me a "deal I couldn't refuse"!

All in all, another good weekend of treasure hunting at 2 of Iowa's best flea markets!

As always, thanks for reading & for supporting small businesses . . . and to see some of the jewelry I make from the treasures I pick up, check out my website at http://paulinesjewelrybox.com/.


Filed Under: Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

Party Time!

by mary September 14, 2014

With the 2014 elections only a couple of months away, tt's that time of the season again to show your party spirit -- and, what better way to do it, then with a Donkey or Elephant charm bracelet!

I was inspired to make this Republican charm bracelet after finding a Nixon for President pin with a large gray elephant hanging from it (he's the one at the center bottom of the picture!

According to the Republican Party, the elephant originated as the GOP symbol during the 1860 campaign as a symbol of strength.  It was further popularized by political cartoonis Thomas Nast. 

For some reason, elephant charms are much easier to find than donkey charms, so I am always thrilled when I can find donkeys -- especially those with the large ears like the silver donkeys I used in this Democratic charm bracelet.

Presidential candidate Andrew Jackson was the first Democrat to be associated with the donkey symbol in 1828, & political cartoonist Thomas Nast is credited with making the donkey the recognized symbol of the Democratic Party after he used it in a cartoon in Harper's Weekly in 1870.  Democrats see the donkey as smart & brave.

When I found red, white & blue donkeys, I decided to make one with similarly colored beads.

Interestingly, the colors red & blue were first used in the 1976 election, when NBC debuted the first election map on TV,  However, at that time, they used red for states that voted for Carter (Democratic Party) & blue for states that voted for Ford (Republican Party), while other stations used different color-coding.  It wasn't until the 2000 presidential election when the NY Times & USA Today published color election maps that it was firmly established that Republicans were the red party & Democrats were the blue party.

So, as the election season heats up, it's time to think about putting on your red Republican Party or blue Democratic Party jewelry!

As always, thanks for reading & for supporting small businesses!


Filed Under: Inspiration | Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds


by mary September 7, 2014

Meet Bette Davis, another of my favorite models.

I found this little picture several years ago at a place called Found Things in East Village in Des Moines.  I've always enjoyed Bette Davis as an actress & loved this picture of her immediately -- both the picture itself, as well as the frame & matting around it.  Two of my favortite Bette Davis quotes are, "If you want a thing well done, get a couple of old broads to do it" & "Old age is no place for sissies". 

For several years, I've displayed it on my dresser.  Then, over the last year, I got to thinking that this picture might make a great model for jewelry.  See what you think . . .

Here she is modeling one of the necklaces I made recently.

And, here she is with a goldstone charm bracelet I made last winter. (Goldstone is a type of glittering glass gemstone made in a low oxygen reducing atmosphere.  It's often mistaken as a natural material.  The original manufacturing process was created in Venice in the 17th century.  Urban legend suggests that goldstone was an accidental discovery by Italian monks or the product of alchemy.)

Finally, here she is with a pair of earrings I made earlier with buttons I picked up at the What Cheer flea market this summer & new old stock (NOS) beads I found last summer at a bead shop in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

I think she adds a touch of class to all three types of jewelry!

As always, thanks for reading & for supporting small businesses!


Filed Under: Meet My Models | Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

Treasure Hunting at What Cheer Flea Market -- August 1, 2014

by mary August 31, 2014

August 1 marked the 2nd What Cheer Flea Market for 2014 & the weather was perfect!  The What Cheer Flea Market is held 3 times a year -- May, July/August, & October.  Sometimes, the July/August market is so beastly hot, it's hard to walk through the whole thing -- especially since it's held at the county fairgrounds, with much of it on the race track where there is absolutely no shade!  This time, however, was a most pleasant exception!

I found several things to use in jewelry making, including this old skate key.  I loved to roller-skate in the bank parking lot across the street from our house when I was a kid & remember having one of these hanging around my neck!


Also found more of transluscent dice similar to what I found at the May market, plus a couple nice bright blue dice,

and this really cool vintage composition boot charm -- I'd never seen anything like this before,

and these tiny perfume bottles that should make great pendants for necklaces,

and these license plate charms, old buttons & little bakelite dice in this box of junk one dealer had.

I've already used the pair of buttons in a pair of earrings,

and one of the license plates in a car-themed charm bracelet.

I also found a couple of things for displaying jewelry . . . first, more frames,

plus an old slide case -- I think it will work really well for displaying earrings.

Lastly, I found several things for my own collections . . . including these Halloween cake toppers,

and this vintage lucite, confetti & seashell clamper bracelet.

Probably my favorite piece of all, though, is this amazing vintage black felt beanie covered with tiny Cracker Jack/gumball charms.  At first, I wasn't sure if I should get it, but Steve convinced me I would regret if it I didn't.  He was so right & I am so glad I got it!  I'm thinking I might wear it to one of the shows I do.

So, all in all, another great day at What Cheer -- with lots of fun finds for jewelry-making & display, & for my own collections.

To see the earrings or charm bracelet shown above or more of my other jewelry, check out my website at http://paulinesjewelrybox.com.

And, as always, thanks for reading & for supporting small businesses!


Filed Under: Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

Treasure Hunting in Wisconsin -- July 2014 Part 3

by mary August 17, 2014

Part 3 of my Wisconsin trip had me heading up to Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek for a weekend of camping with friends from college.  I got there Friday just as the early campers were finishing breakfast, so was able to join some of my friends for a trip into Fish Creek, & later for a good hike along the lake & bluffs, including a climb up Eagle Tower. 

Saturday morning, I checked out an antique show going on at the high school in Fish Creek & found a few goodies, including these vintage black glass buttons & gold bakelite buttons from one dealer, & the copper pin & celluloid-handled button hook from another dealer.  I plan to use both the copper piece & the button hook handle as pendants for necklaces.

Also found this great hat from the 1940s & hat box.  According to the Millinery Trade Review, Meyer's Millinery operated in New York City in the early 1900s.

I saw a lot of other really cool pieces including another great hat, a bakelite bowling ball & pin key chain, & some amazing compacts), but you can't get everything!

Later on Saturday, we had a "pre-wedding" for one of the young couples in our group (their official wedding is in September).  The ladies all dressed up & wore hats that I'd brought along with me, & the groom & some of the guys wore tuxedo t-shirts!   Here we -- or at least the ladies in our group -- are at the campground before the pre-wedding.

And, here's the whole group after the ceremony. 

We lucked out on the weather for the weekend -- mid-70s during the days & cool nights with great campfires & virtually no rain until about an hour or so after we had broken down our tents & left.  My only complaint was that Friday I had failed to seal my air mattress completely, so about mid-way through the night I woke up to find myself laying on the ground rather than a cushion of air -- first time I've slept on the ground in probably 20+ years! 

Sunday morning, after another nice hike along the lake & bluffs, I headed down to Kewaunee where I was spending the night with Pam again.  On the way, I stopped at 2 antique malls just south of Egg Harbor.

There, I found a couple of fun things, including more fishing lures to "disect" & use the shiny dangly pieces for earrings.

and this cute Halloween nut basket to add to my vintage decorations (Halloween is probably my favorite holiday for decorating!)

My final stop before heading to Pam's appartment was the antique ahop in Kewaunee, where I found these vintage Irish coins & a magic token.  Here in Des Moines, I've not been able to find any Irish coins, so I was excited to see these.

That finishes up Part 3 of my Wisconsin vacation . . . next stops Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin & Dyersville, Iowa; then on home to Des Moines!


Filed Under: Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

Tresaure Hunting in Wisconsin -- July 2014 Part 2

by mary August 10, 2014

The 2nd phase of my July trip & treasure hunting in Wisconsin started at the I43-JJ antique mall near Manitowoc, & included Kewaunee, Sturgeon Bay & Algoma.  At Manitowoc, I found a couple of things for my jewelry-making, as well as a really cool 1920s purse for my own collections & several gifts for Steve!

I thought some of the dangly things on these fishing lures might be fun to make into earrings . . .

And I'm thinking this postcard display could work as a backdrop for some of my jewelry photos or at shows.  I especially like the mirrored surfaces of the frame & the fact that I can easily change postcards!

And here's the really cool vintage purse I picked up for my collection -- I love the lucite/bakelite chain handle & the material print!

I also found this fun bunny for my vintage Easter decorations -- not sure if he is composition or some kind of plastic.

From Manitowoc, I headed up to Kewaunee, where I stayed several days with my good friend, Pam.  On Wednesday, we went into Sturgeon Bay, where I picked up some more fun things!

We stopped first at Acme Beads -- one of my favorite bead shops because they carry new old stock (NOS) vintage beads from the 1940s - 1970s, as well as niobium earring wires.  As you can see, I found several that had to come home with me!

We also stopped at an antique shop, where I picked up more Scrabble & other letter tiles for jewelry making & displaying.  I also picked up the metal disk with "37" on it -- it's an old cow tag & should make a fun pendant for a necklace!

We spent Wednesday night at Red's Pub & Grill -- Wednesday is Open Mic night & Pam played her guitar & sang, & a number of other musicians performed as well.  I even joined Pam for "Blowin' in the Wind" & "Leaving on a Jet Plane"!

Thursday morning, we went for a nice long walk along Lake Michigan, & then headed up to Algoma for a lunch & a leisurely afternoon of shopping.  I was amazed at the number of antique/vintage shops & what we found there for such a small town!

At the first antique shop we stopped at, I found a couple of cute charms to use in jewelry-making -- I'd never seen the little tic-tac-toe charm before.

I also picked up this cool clear lucite dangle/pendant with glitter inside . . .

and this fun book on Plastic Jewelry.

Lastly, I found this really fun witch goblin to add to my vintage Hallowen decorations -- she was made in the USA between 1960 & 1969, & measures 24" x 30", with hinged legs & arms!  The top of her hat & end of her nose are broken off, but we found a picture of her in one of my reference books, & Steve thinks he can repair her so she looks as good as new!

We stopped at one more antique shop & a consignment/vintage shop.  At the antique shop, I found an Eldon 1/32 slot car chassis that I gave to Steve when I got home, & a composition mannequin that hangs on a wall or frame -- here she is wearing one of my necklaces.  I'm not sure if I'll cover her with something like dress patterns or put clothes on her, or just use her as she is.

Our last stop in Algoma was the consignment/vintage shop, where I found this super cool beaded headdress.  The woman at the shop said it was from the 1920s; I'm not sure if that is true or not, but either way, I just loved it!

And that's it for Part 2 of my Wisconsin journey -- next stops, Fish Creek & Door County!


Filed Under: Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

Treasure Hunting in Wisconsin -- July 2014 Part 1

by mary August 3, 2014

I traveled to Wisconsin again in July for more camping & visiting friends.  And, of course, while I was there I did a bit of treasure hunting!  This post will cover the first part of my trip in southern Wisconsin.

I spent the first night of my trip in Waukesha visiting college friends Katie & Jed.  On the way there, I stopped at a fun little antique shop in Wales just off Highway 18.  There I found this fun little silver & rhinestone button that I think will work great as a pendant for a necklace.

We took a train into Chicago the next day (Sunday) with several other friends & spent the next day visiting Eataly (this upscale market downtown) & walking along the lakefront.

On Monday, I headed into Menomonee Falls, my hometown, for lunch & dinner with friends at AJ O'Brady's Irish pub & grill.  I always like to stop there, as it's right across the street from the waterfall that the village is named for.  We used to ice skate on the river just above the falls.

While there, I stopped at Purloin Studio, a really nice little art & coffee shop that's just up the street, & picked up a couple of interesting yard art sculptures for our garden.  An artist from northern Wisconsin makes them out of old spoons.

The next day, I headed north to Kewaunee via Cedarburg & stopped in at my favorite lapidary shop -- The Gem Shop -- & found some fabulous gemstone cabichons.  Starting at the center top & going clockwise, they are an aqua nueva noduler agate, druzy, butterfly jasper, regency rose, graveyard point plume agate, & condor agate.  I don't know which I like better -- their shapes or colors/patterns!

I also picked up some great beads -- including rose quartz, pink opal, white agate, howlite, tourmalated quartz, pietersite, & mexican red obsidean -- as well as an old geneva quartz watch.

A great start for my 12-day journey -- next stop, the I43-JJ antique mall at Manitowoc!


Filed Under: Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

Treasure Hunting in Wisconsin - June 2014

by mary July 20, 2014

I took a trip to Wisconsin in June this year to do some camping & visit friends.  While there, I had the opportunity to do a little treasure hunting as well.

One of the first places I stopped after visiting my hometown of Menomonee Falls was Cedarburg, which is just a bit northeast of Menomonee Falls.  While there, I stopped in at The Gem Shop -- a great lapidary shop with some amazing beads & stones.

The staff there are super helpful as well.  Here are some of the beads & stones I picked up.  Right now, I'm working on a ring for the teardrop stone in the upper left in 2nd picture.

While in Cedarburg, I also stopped in this really fun vintage clothing shop, Dime a Dance, & found a fabulous 1940s hat & hat box!  I absolutely love the feathers & rhinestones on the hat!

After Cedarburg, my next stop was Kewaunee, which is just south of Door County, to visit a childhood friend for a couple of days.  During my stay, we stopped at a fun bead shop in Sturgeon Bay. 

One of the really cool things about this shop is that the owner has a large supply of new old stock (NOS) beads & charms, etc. from the 1940s through the 1970s.  Here are some of the things I picked up there.

I've already used 2 of the brass beads in a pair of earrings I made recently.

While in Sturgeon Bay, we also stopped at a fun antique shop, where I picked up some more letters to use in my jewelry displays.

Here's an example of how I use the letters to highlight a particular type of jewelry, like my "healing" or "inspiratu" charm bracelets.

I also found a really cool mannequin at the shop that I didn't buy -- and am kicking myself that I didn't get her.  She would make a great model for charm bracelets!  I'm thinking when I go back up to Kewaunee in July, I may have to visit the shop again & if she's still there, she may come home with me!

My next stop after Kewaunee was Black River Falls State Forest where we were camping.  We had a super group camp site & for the first time in 3 years, it didn't rain while we were there!  In addition to enjoying the beach & doing some hiking, we ended up going into the town of Black River Falls for a couple of hours one afternoon, where I found this cute little child's tablet in one of the town's antique shops.

I think it makes a fun background for jewelry -- especially pieces that use the old Scrabble tiles . . .

All in all, I had a great time camping & visiting friends, & found some great pieces to use in my jewelry making!


Filed Under: Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

33rd Annual Walnut AMVETS Antique Show

by mary July 13, 2014

Had a great time this year earlier in June at he 33rd Annual Walnut AMVETS Antique Show!  Last year it rained all 3 days, so we didn't go at all, which was really disappointing since it's one of my favorite outdoor antique shows.  This year, though, the weather was just about perfect!


I found several fun things to incorporate into my jewelry work -- including these vintage dice & fun old charms!

I also picked up some more old letters to use in my displays.  While I already have a pretty good selection of the old wooden Scrabble tiles, I've been looking for other letters to make it a bit more interesting & thought these did just the trick!

I thought several pieces in this set of "Continental molds" would make great pendants -- especially the horse, bunnies, cat & fish.  Am anxious to play around with these!

One of my more expensive finds was this collection of amber-colored chandelier pieces.  The dealer actually had more, but this was all I thought I could afford at the time.  I especially love the color & the different shapes!  In restrospect, I'm wondering if I shouldn't have picked up more of them.

And, I picked up a few pieces of vintage chain . . .

My last 2 finds I'll keep for me.  Steve said he would re-wire the duck light for me, so it could join my vintage Easter decorations next year.

And I just love my "new" Mr. Peanut charm bracelet!

All in all, we had a great time checking out people's booth & I was quite pleased with what we found!



Filed Under: Treasure Hunting/Favorite Finds

About the author

Pauline's Jewelry Box was founded by Mary Nelson in 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa.  I chose the name Pauline's Jewelry Box because my mother's name was Pauline & I have many fond memories of looking through jewelry box & playing with her jewelry

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