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Bennie finds passion for creating recycled jewelry

Everyone from jewlery lovers and sustainability gurus has a grandmother, mom, sister or friend that is hard to buy girfts for. But, students can find a gift for any woman, right on campus.

Gretchen Osdoba, CSB senior, manages her own recycled jewelry business. Her pieces are assembled from bits she finds at thrift stores, local art events and donations. All designs are up-cycled, handmade and one-of-a-kind.

Osdoba began tinkering with trinkets at a young age, playing with beads and strings at summer camp. Throughout high school, she would collect small objects and re-assemble them for herself.

“People would come up to me and ask me where I got [the jewelry] from. I would just laugh and say, ‘Oh, I made that from crap,’” Osdoba said.

After her friends offered to buy the innovative ornaments, she knew she had something special.

In 2011, Osdoba set up a Facebook page for friends and family to view and order the accessories. Her crafty charms caught the attention of local boutiques, so she created an account on Etsy, a site for handmade craft lovers. She even put photos of some of her designs on Pinterest.

“When I see strangers re-pin my designs, that’s a good feeling,” Osdoba said.

Her creations are definitely pin-worthy. Her works appeal to vintage art deco styles as well as modern trends. Her most popular pieces are inspired by the world around her.

“I’m a math major and an art minor, so I have this blended weird mind. I look at an existing necklace and think about how if I re-arranged it, the beads could be something else entirely,” Osboda said.

Her materials range from vintage costume earrings to craft feathers, glitzy sequins from a scarf to antique lace snipped from a thrift store dress. She even created mod bracelets from iPod ear buds.

“It never made sense to me to throw good accessories away when a clasp doesn’t work or I don’t like it anymore,” she said.

Osdoba equates making and buying refurbished jewelry to using environmentally-friendly products and recycling. She believes it is the next step to going green.

However, her focus on sustainability does not take away from her classic and diverse styles.

“You can look at all of these pieces together and never think they were all made by the same person, I think that’s what makes me different,” she said.

Her art is about finding the patterns to make odds-and-ends work together. Osdoba spends anywhere from 10 minutes to a week perfecting the knickknacks.

Her favorite current project involves something “borrowed.” Osdoba walked past a lone bronze earring pinned to a wall outside her classroom several times last semester. After months of neglect from the lost treasure’s owner, she adopted it. Osdoba plans to pin an owl patch she found in Germany to the earring and ultimately turn it into a necklace. The history of each recycled bit is one of the highlights of her hobby turned business.

“Everything I have has a story to it,” Osdoba said.

Osdoba’s works are available for viewing and purchase at Etsy.com/shop/recycledjewelry1.

Custom orders are also available upon request to recycledjewelry1@gmail.com.