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Trash to Treasure: Merging Creativity and Environmental Responsibility

November 21, 2012


Our new customer checkout stations. Made from recycled and re-purposed materials. There are five total, including one handicap accessible unit.

People often ask me what it is like to work for Rings & Things. The truth is, I love it. I was initially drawn to Rings & Things because being a jewelry-maker, it always seemed like working there I would literally be like “a kid in a candy store”. Quickly after being hired though, I discovered there was so much more to Rings & Things than just beads. They have to be one of the most creative, innovative and environmentally responsible companies around. One recent example of this mentality is these beautiful new additions to our Spokane, Washington showroom. These new customer checkout stations were made from recycled, re-used and re-purposed materials.


Rings & Things co-owner, Dee Mueller, working on one of the  mosaic portions of the new fixtures. The mosaics were created with scrap tile and broken beads.


Over the summer, we decided that the showroom was in desperate need of new customer checkout stations. While most business owners would order something new, Dee Mueller, co-owner of Rings & Things, decided she was gonna make something better than you could ever buy. Dee and her husband, Russ Nobbs, own Rings & Things, a company that just celebrated its 40th anniversary. Over the past 40 years, both Dee and Russ have made huge efforts to promote environmental responsibility in the Spokane area and to their employees. At our Spokane warehouse, everything in house is recycled (and I mean everything!), a bike is available for employees to travel green on their breaks, and there is even in-house composting. The compost is used by Russ and Dee in their garden, where they grow fresh produce to share with all their employees. Recently, Russ was inducted into the Washington State Recycling Hall of Fame for all of the contributions he has made to recycling in the Spokane area. He heads up recycling at several events here in Spokane as well as leads the recycling portion of an annual clean-up of our cherished Spokane river.


Russ Nobbs, in his signature tie dye shirt, at the annual Spokane River Clean-Up. Every year, Russ, Friends of the Falls, and a brigade of volunteers remove, sort and recycle three to ten TONS of garbage from the Spokane River gorge.

Russ Nobbs and Dee Mueller, husband and wife, and owners of Rings & Things.


The cabinets were a way for Dee to honor the efforts her husband has made over the years. Dee is an experienced cabinet maker and jeweler, so this was a fun opportunity for her to bring together her passions. Dee worked in her home garage and her shop at the warehouse to build these beautiful fixtures, which without a doubt took hours and hours to make.  She used scrap wood left by a neighbor to build the frames, found “seconds” counter tops at a local counter top fabricator, and got the side panels from the Habitat from Humanity store. Those are the functional elements. What is really fun about these portable checkout stations though is the decorative elements. Dee’s creativity really shines through here. She used scrap tile and broken beads to create beautiful mosaic strips on each unit. Each one is slightly different, though they are all unified by a similar color scheme and focal point. The focal on each cabinet is an inlaid carved stone Cicada, an exotic winged beetle like insect.


Mosaic detail on the front of one of the checkout stands featuring a carved stone Cicada, broken gemstone beads and freshwater pearls.

The front to another checkout stand. This also has a broken Chinese turquoise pendant.

The new stations are an amazing addition to our Showroom and are really a testimony to the philosophy of Rings & Things. It would have been easier to buy mass manufactured units, but Dee wanted something special, that would stand the test of time and be unique to Rings & Things.  For me, it is inspiring to see what beauty and functionality can be created from one man’s trash.  If we could all reuse, recycle and re-purpose just a little more, imagine the reduction in waste to our lovely Earth.

~~Tiffany White,   Rings & Things blogger


Co-owner of Rings & Things, standing behind one of her completed checkout stations.


Please feel free to ask any questions about the construction of these fixtures below in the comment section.  Click here to learn more about Russ Nobbs’ recycling efforts.


DIY Earring Cards that won't break the bank!

July 20, 2012

Whether you make jewelry as a hobby, to sell at craft fairs or to just give as gifts to friends and family, presentation is always an issue. You wouldn’t hang up a beautiful print on the wall without a proper frame. Well, the same goes with your jewelry. It is after all wearable artwork that you have created, and it should be presented in a pretty way! I decided to try and find some DIY earring card ideas that are cute, quick and inexpensive. That way you can spend more time making the jewelry, and less time (and money) worrying about how to display it.

For this project, there are are few basic supplies needed to get started. A paper cutter makes this process much easier and faster. You can find small affordable ones at any craft store. Also, a glue stick is great for layering paper, to make thicker cards. I just use a pushpin to make my holes on the cards, though craft stores will sometimes have paper punches available specifically for creating earring cards. I have tried them, but I still prefer my pushpin. The last two items I recommend are nylon or rubber earring stoppers, to keep your earrings on the cards, and adhesive clip cards, so you can hang the earrings on display racks. The rest of the items I used I found for less than $3 at my local mega store.

Basic supplies needed. Paper cutter, glue stick, pushpin, adhesive clip cards, and nylon earring backs


Close up of the earring clip cards. Sometimes,you may need to trim the bottom. This can be done easily: just trim them with scissors.

Close up of the nylon earring backs. There are a few different styles of these available, but I like the bell shape best.


Okay, so now that the basics are covered, time to have fun! Check out all the affordable ideas I came up with below!


Playing Cards

52 cards for a few bucks! And they come in so many different designs!

The classic poker card transformed! Simply adhere the clips to the back so they can hang!

I particularly like these Japanese themed playing cards paired with the Buddha Heads Earrings!

Greeting Cards

All of these cards came from packages of six or more and were less than $3. A paper cutter can transform them into functioning earring cards in no time!

Use your glue stick to glue a second neutral piece of paper to the back, creating a border. The floral card was perfect for resin flower studs and I just love how the zebra print looks with the neon pink chalcedony!

Paint Chip Samples

These offer great pops of color! Coordinate your earrings to have matching colored cards!

Total cost for paint chips, Free! At least for now, though I am sure due to Pinterest, they are disappearing more quickly from the shelves, so don’t be surprised if they start charging for them soon!

Gift Bag Tags

I found a 6-pack of these blank floral gift bag tags for $1! Check the dollar bins at your store, you never know what you might find!


Book pages

Love this look! Cut the pages vertical or horizontal and use the glue stick to adhere them to thick white construction or scrap book paper. Great for vintage looking earrings!


Buy inexpensive road maps, adhere to thick white scrapbook paper. I love this one, because you can pick out your favorite cities or coordinate your jewelry with the maps. Pair beachy earrings with maps of Hawaii of Celtic Earrings with maps of Ireland!


Well I hope I have inspired everyone to make some pretty earring cards! Please feel free to ask me any questions and add any ideas that you have for creating funky earring cards! Look forward to more blog post to help you with displaying and packaging your jewelry!