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Wearing your silverware

Silverware is often passed from one generation to the next. Sometimes, however, the heirloom pieces get forgotten and are left to collect dust in wooden storage chests, and random shoeboxes.

That’s where Darlene Nagan and her daughter, Misty Nagan, come in with their business, Silver Wear, LLC. The mother-daughter duo started making handmade jewelry from recycled silverware after Darlene’s mother, Vonnie Hammer, taught her a year ago.

The idea started back with Darlene’s grandmother’s silverware. She had collected eggs on the family farm and sold them at market in exchange for Betty Crocker coupons, which were then saved to accumulate her set of silverware. When she passed at 93, Darlene’s aunt received the collection. The set was later used by Hammer to create heirloom jewelry pieces that were given to family members.

Since May, Darlene has been selling through custom orders and at the Downtown Appleton Farm Market.

“It’s been going like gangbusters,” Darlene shares. “It means so much to them to be able to wear a piece of their grandmother’s.”

Darlene and Misty work with silver-plated or sterling silver silverware because it’s easier to bend and also shines up better. They also have workshops that include sanders, buffers and tumblers.

Pretty much every portion of a piece of silver is used in one creation or another. Any extra pieces from a custom order are returned. Darlene and Misty can be reached through their facebook page:

They also look for new pieces, swap and consider purchasing from people willing to sell if the price is right. Other resources include antique shops and hunting online, on sites like eBay where they can find mixed lots.

“It’s just so exciting when you get a pattern you’ve never seen before,” Darlene says.

“You think you’ve seen it all and then you’re like, ‘Wow! Where did this come from?’” Misty echoed.

Darlene’s favorite pieces to work on have been butter knife rings. “It’s a conversation piece,” she says. Darlene also refers to baby spoon rings as a “darling” keepsake.

Misty, on the other hand, likes “to bring the unexpected.” “I like anything where we cut the fork tines,” she says, like earrings.

She enjoys statement pieces and hopes to do more of them in the future, along with in-home parties and possibly expanding to Etsy. She has been selling her pieces at the farmers market in De Pere, too.

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