Monday, October 5, 2009

Jewelry Made from Recycled Brass Bullet Shells

It's our neighbor's fault! He gave us some boxes of "spent" brass bullet-shell cartridges and said, "You guys are creative, why don't you make something with these?" It seemed like fun challenge. Little did we know, that it would be the beginning of a full-time venture in making bullet jewelry.

We put photos on our website and sold all the earrings, necklaces, key rings and pendants that were made from our neighbor's used bullet shells. And soon, (Yippee) orders for more bullet jewelry started coming in...but now we were out of bullets shells! We drove into town to see if we could buy some shells simiar to the ones our neighbor had given us and Boy, were we in for a shock! They were expensive! The shells came in all sizes, shapes and forms, but none were what we needed for our bullet jewelry designs. (Obviously, we had never owned, or shot a gun, of any kind.)

When the store clerk saw our disappointment, he told told us about an off-road spot in the desert where gun lovers go to practice target shooting. He said the Rancher that lives near the open-range property was mad about the mess left behind and that he would be grateful if we picked up some of the shotgun litter.

So we packed up our dogs and trucked out to find this off-road, make-shift, shooting range in the desert. (It was Noon on a weekday and, luckily for us, no one was around!) We were amazed at the variety of bullet shells scattered over almost 10 acres. There were plastic shotgun shells and lead buckshot, too. This poses a serious problem for birds and wildlife that might ingest the lead shot. And, it could contaminate ground water and take years for the shells to recycle back into the earth.

We grabbed our shovels and went to work. Soon, the Rancher spotted our truck and stopped by to thank us for helping to clean up the mess! We told him that if this worked out, we would be back for more.

We got home with a load of mucky, dirt-filled shells that took 3 days to clean, but with some serious elbow grease they reverted back to the shiny brass shells we needed. We melted down some of shells that were badly bent and recast those into new shapes for pendants.

If you are curious, here are some photos of the jewelry we made from these used shells! If you have any spent bullet shells you want to trade for jewelry, contact us! We would be happy to recycle old shells and keep our deserts beautiful!

Tucson Desert Dwellers

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