Trash to Treasure

The wedding was over. My wife and I had returned from our blissful honeymoon. And yet, we were left with a dilemma: what to do with all of this wedding stuff?

You know - the flowers, the centerpieces, all the little personal touches we worked so hard to make special. Well, now that the wedding's done, we can't just throw them away, right?

If you're like me, you held on to the stuff knowing someday you'd think of something to do with them — anything but putting them in a glass shadow box (it makes me think of funerals).

Sometimes you have to wait a long time for inspiration to come along. For me, it was seven years! That's when I met jewelry designer Heather Lawrenz of Lawrenz Jewelry. She makes amazing beads, charms and intricate pieces of art all out of stuff most people would throw away. You wouldn't believe how beautiful she can make a discarded bottle cap or a spent A1 steak sauce bottle look.

After seeing her work and getting to know Heather, she mentioned to me that she can make a piece of jewelry out of old photographs — the wheels started turning. If she could take a three-dimensional object and turn it into a charm the possibilities were endless.

Finally, I knew what to do with all those boxes of wedding dodads taking up valuable shelf space in my basement.

With Heather's talents, I could have her preserve those memories in an exciting new way. I turned my box of "stuff" over to her and let Heather work her magic. (Of course, I photographed everything first, just in case I wanted to look at it later). Within minutes, Heather was taking pieces of the materials and constructing tiny compositions.

It was great to see the way Heather thinks and not to give her too much direction. I knew I could trust her to do her thing and the results would be spectacular. What I didn't expect were some of the happy accidents along the way, like when Heather realized the newspapers stuffed around the dried wedding bouquets to protect the delicate flowers were from the newspaper I worked at during the time of our wedding. In fact, the newspapers had some photos that stick out in my mind since they were from meaningful assignments.

"I'm going to use that as a background for one of these charms," Heather said.

I couldn't believe it — fishwrap to some, colorful interest to Heather, a significant memory for me — and now it would all be preserved on this hip piece of jewelry for my wife to wear every day.

And the best part, my wife and I could finally part with all that wedding clutter. Meaningful, yes, but clutter still the same.

If you want to have one of these ah-ha moments, definitely visit Lawrenz Jewelry.