New Trend Towards Hardware Fashion Accessories

Original, Unconventional Jewelry

Creating Do-It-Yourself jewelry using items from the hardware has been popular since World War II. As you know, one of my favorite shows is Project Runway. A high note from the last hardware challenge was a stunning necklace of keys made by Maya. A popular episode each Project Runway season is the unconventional challenge.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show (Thursdays, 7:00, Showtime), the clothing designers are taken to a location filled with everyday items that they have to transform into interesting wearable clothing. For several seasons, the unconventional challenge has taken place in the hardware store. From duct tape, garbage bags, washers, and chains, the designers create evening gowns, pant suits, bikinis and more.

key necklace

Hardware jewelry is make with cording, jewelry wire, copper wiring or plastic coated electrical wire and plumbing or construction hardware.

Anni Albers

There is historic precedent for these fashion pieces. During World War II, Anni Albers a textile artist used window chail and bobby pins to create a dramatic necklace. She created an elegant necklace from a silver metal sink strainer and paper clips. She stated that she was surprised by how beautiful the results were.

Punk to Steam Punk

During the punk movement in the 80’s, early punkers wore clothes slashed and held together with safety pins. They wore nails in their ears and other fashion pieces using every day construction and plumbing items. They would repurpose second hand clothing rejecting the mainstream emphasis on accumulation of wealth and materialism.

The early punk movement reflected working class frustrations many were feeling about economic issues and the hypocrisy and neglect of working people and their struggles to survive.

Steampunk fashion appears to be an extension of a post-punk revival that began in the 80s.  It is defined as is a mixture of the Victorian era’s romantic view of science in literature and elements from the Industrial Revolution in Europe during the 1800s. The fashion is designed with a post-apocalyptic era in mind.  It is characterized by repurposed materials that are combined in unusual or utilitarian ways with a strong Victorian style sense.  This mixture of textiles, metals, hardware, and recyclables creates a distinctive look.

bike tire jewelry
Jewelry cut from used bike tires.


Focusing on the idea of upcycling, here is a Youtube video of a way to upscale your thriftstore find using safety pins.<h/2>

Thrift Store Fashion

As the economy dipped in the early 2000’s the resurgence of thrift store fashion and using unconventional materials to create accessories brought the use of things found in hardware and plumbing stores back in vogue. In 2001, the Duck Brand company started the “Stuck at Prom” fashion competition, in which couples are encouraged to create their outfits from Duck tape. According to their website, over 92, 796 rolls of tape have been used in the 15 years since its inception. The prizes are $3000, $5000, and $10,000 scholarships.

Upscale Designers Repurpose Hardware Pieces

Dana Hurusitz and Vince Barlie accessory designers have released a line of “neckties” that are worn under the collars of shirts buttoned to the top. The models have the neckties on casual outfits, as well as tuxes. They call the line “Bond Lockware.” They are fashioned from screws, door locks, hinges, chains, washers and rings. The names of some of the pieces are “Window Lock,” “Double Ring,” “Chain Lock,” and “Hatch Ring.” Hurusitz and Barlie use chain under the collar to hold the fixture over the top button.

Create Your Own Unique Pieces for Fun or Fashion

Do-It-Yourselfers can create bracelets with colorful cording and copper hot water fixtures, washers layered into a draping necklace held together with bits of cording or wire. Using window chain, they can immulate Alber’s necklace by putting various bobby pins mixing and matching hues for drama. Using wire, designers can weave together two rows of washers oriented in opposite directions. To get started, use the directions below curtesy of Kristen Hilyard, Lifestyle Expert,



  • 1 cabinet hinge (we used National brand)
  • 4 jump rings
  • 6+ inches of jewelry chain
  • 1 jewelry clasp


  • Cut two three-inch pieces of chain (more or less depending on the width of your wrist)
  • Attach the end of one piece of chain to the side of one hinge using one jump ring
  • Attach the other end of that chain to the other side (same end) of the hinge
  • Repeat with the other chain on the other end of the hinge.
  • Find the center of the chain loop and attach one jump ring to the center link.
  • Attach your clasp to that jump ring
  • Attach another jump ring to the center of the other chain loop (the other end)

Here is another project for the kids, or the kid in you.




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