Resident transforms old watches into new jewelry
HUNTINGTON -- Beth Ingels' visit to a rummage sale about a year ago has turned into a hobby and even part-time business.
The Pea Ridge resident came across a box of old watches and watch parts at that rummage sale. She was intrigued by the vintage look of the watches and the tiny gears inside them.
"To anyone else, it probably looked like a box full of junk. To me, it looked like a box full of interesting little parts," Ingels said. "I guess one man's junk is another man's treasure."
Her first thought was to use the parts for scrapbooking. But she would later learn through research on the Internet that some of the watches were made in the early 1900s.
"They were just too pretty to bury in a scrapbook," she said.
Ingels, who had been making mother's bracelets out of sterling silver and Swarovski crystals, realized the disassembled watches would make beautiful pieces of jewelry. Since then, she has perfected the craft and now sells bracelets, rings, necklaces and earrings online.
Ingels finds old watches -- Bulova, Elgin, Waltham and Illinois being the most common -- at rummage sales, garage sales, flea markets and on e-Bay. During her time off as an auditor at Alcon Inc., she spends hours at her dining room table disassembling watches and combining the gears, watch faces and even watch hands with brass stampings to make one-of-a-kind pieces.
"It's like giving an old piece of equipment a second life," she said. "It's good for the environment, too. I'm repurposing an old watch that otherwise ends up in a landfill."
Ingels discovered not long after she started making watch jewelry that it had been done before. But she says some extra effort -- sanding, filing, painting and putting the gears through a chemical process to change the color -- sets hers apart.
"This is something that's absent in the world of large-scale manufacturing," she said. "There's a lot of sweat and tears that go into my pieces. I don't know if you can get sweat and tears."
Between online sales and sales during a jewelry party at her home, Ingels made about $1,000 in December (most of her pieces sell for about $25). She also hopes to display her jewelry at the Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival in April. But her newfound hobby is not about making money, she said.
"It's therapy for me. It takes my mind off things," she said. "It's not really about making some extra money as it is creating something that makes people smile."
FAMILY: Husband, Jason; 4-year-old son, Bryson
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