Dogs, vintage and repurposing – all things I love that can be found at Charmed Menagerie. It was because of these 3 details that I found Melissa’s Etsy shop. Coincidentally, she lives in Anaheim as well. Her charm bracelets are adorned with vintage, or personal dog tags and mixed with beads and filigree. Dog tags really are a dog’s jewelry. To wear it, especially after losing a pet, is to wear their last physical attribute. Maybe it is because I am a dog lover, or that I recently lost my Aussie, but Melissa’s charm bracelets are not just upcycling, but uplifting. Here’s her story.
Hi, I am Melissa, owner and jewelry designer of Charmed Menagerie on Etsy and my website: http://www.charmedmenagerie.com/. I love Natalie’s blog because I am all about upcycling, recycling and salvaging. My Elliott family lived out in the country and my Wallace clan came from Scotland. They lived by the motto of “use it up, make it do, or do without”. I have so many antique and vintage treasures because they took care of their things and made them last. I grew up on stories from my Grandma Alice about “making do”. During the Depression my Mom had to have white tennis shoes for a school gym program but all she had was black tennis shoes. Grandma opened up a can of white paint . . . problem solved. They cut down old adult coats to make new coats for their children, wrapped bolted lettuce in newspaper for family to take home so they could save the seeds and plant them in their garden, and saved every scrap of brown paper and string so they never had to buy packaging. Grandma Alice also wrote on the back of every picture I have hanging on my walls so I knew what family member it had originally belonged to, as well as the bottom of every honey jar and dish. Her house was an eclectic treasure trove of turtle shells, pheasant feathers, dried flowers and herbs, scraps of fabric for dolly clothes, and lots and lots of jars of all shapes and sizes.
I inherited a number of pieces of vintage costume jewelry pieces from my grandmother, some of which had belonged to my great grandmother. That piqued my interest in vintage jewelry and as a young mother I would go thrifting and antiquing for more, collecting some lovely old pieces. I was always in a quandary about what to do with the little bits and bobs I had inherited that were missing stones, clasps, or were broken, as well as some single earrings, etc. The answer was vintage assemblage, a form of jewelry making where you take parts of vintage jewelry pieces and combine them with other parts and end up with a beautiful one of a kind vintage piece. I started taking vintage assemblage jewelry classes at a wonderful shop in Fullerton, Gilding the Lily, and began making my own vintage assemblage jewelry.
One day I was randomly shopping on Etsy for some vintage elements and found a listing of colorful old aluminum dog tags covered with solder. They just spoke to me. I made them into a charm bracelet, pairing them with some vintage curb chain, a Scottie dog charm, and vintage glass beads. I listed the bracelet on Etsy, wondering the entire time if anyone else would see the charm and whimsy in these beat up old dog tags. To my great surprise, the bracelet sold quickly and my vintage dog tag charm bracelet business was born. I do all kinds of vintage assemblage jewelry but I always have a soft spot for my dog and cat jewelry. Last year my husband and I rescued a little Maltipoo, Winston, who oddly enough came from a pit bull rescue. We just adore him. Because I love animals and want to give back, for every order over $100 I donate 10% to an animal rescue group. Donating to animal rescues has given an even more satisfying dimension to my jewelry.