Shabby to Chic: New Uses for Antique Tableware

When I first decided to go into business 25 years ago, I envisioned that I would open an antique store. However, that idea was quickly scrapped when I realized top notch objects would difficult to acquire, especially with a limited investment. While the medium range items were hard to market due to people's changing life styles.  There are fewer opportunities to use the 100+ plus pieces of heirloom tableware tucked neatly away in the china closet.   People typically don't entertain guests they way that they did in the past.

I often observed dozens of beautifully patterned heirloom silverware sitting in the corner of some antique shops, dusty and mired, wondering when these beautiful pieces would get a second chance to shine.

That day would come when gifted crafters Karen and Crag came to my store presenting a counter full of antique patterned spoon rings, fork bracelets, earrings , and all kinds of cleverly designed table accessories using the long forgotten vintage tableware. 

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By now I had tweaked my original idea and opened a jewelry and gift store, featuring handmade American crafts. Gradually, the concept of recycling became ever so prevalent in our society, especially in recent years. The spoon and fork jewelry stirred great interest among our customers; often they would try on a dozen or so bracelets, rings, and earrings before they decided on which set they really wanted. They also complimented the quirky earrings display Crag made for Enchantments, which was made of 16 vintage long spoons and forks; crisscrossed, and screwed on a recycled broom stick.

Fanwood marked its annual Earth Day celebration in April, which enlightened me to take inventory of the recycled merchandise that Enchantments has to offer. One of the first things that I noticed were beautiful hand-painted wind chimes and candle holders made from recycled beer bottles by artist Amalia Flaisher, who discreetly covered the Budweiser trademark by her brilliant brush strokes.

Worrying that huge amount of discarded wine bottles could cause problems for disposal, an enterprising Californian made use of them to hold soybean candles scented with different wine aromas. A young artist experimented with old watch parts and created a line of necklaces called “Frozen Time" pieces.

I believe the process of using recycled material for artistic creation projects positive energy. When visitors oh and ha with amazement looking at the repurposed objects in my store, I know instantly they get it. That's the moment we realize shopping is not all about consumption, but a means of discovery- like finding a long lost friend who just had a makeover. It's so exciting to be reconnected.

Enchantments is a delightful shop in downtown Fanwood that specializes in unique gifts, handmade jewelry, and hand made American Crafts. Owner Helen Ling has created a truly "enchanting" experience for the avid shopper. Enchantments is located at 234 South Ave. in Fanwood.  Call (908) 322-6161 or visit

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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Scotch Plains/Fanwood