SALEM - Nearly a year of experimentation and frustration paid off recently for Salem jewelry designer Lori Mlinarcik.
The handmade bracelet she created using sterling silver and a vintage Coca-Cola glass bottle is now featured on the soda company's website as one of the 10 most clever and inventive gifts fashioned from Coca-Cola products.
"I was very excited and very honored," she said.
Salem resident Lori Mlinarcik of G & L Treasures displays some of her handmade jewelry creations, including a bracelet made from a vintage Coca-Cola bottle. The bracelet is now featured on the Coca-Cola company website as one of “10 clever upcycled Coca-Cola finds on Etsy,” an online marketplace for handmade items by artists and crafters from all over the world. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
The soft drink giant contacted her last month after seeing the bracelet on Etsy, a website used by artisans and crafters to market their one-of-a-kind, handmade creations. The bracelet is now one of 10 items shown under the heading "10 clever upcycled Coca-Cola finds on Etsy."
To find it, visit the Coca-Cola website at www.coca-colacompany.com and go to holidays, then go to holiday gift guides and gifts from Etsy. Each of the 10 items includes a short description about the artist and the item itself, along with the cost. The selections utilized not only pop bottles, but cans and wooden crates to make jewelry, a pet feeder, drinking glasses, and a wind chime decoration.
Mlinarcik's bracelet was described as "a chic, sterling silver-accented cuff that's hand-cut and frosted by Mlinarcik, who specializes in crafting one-of-a-kind upcycled jewelry."
A Salem native who has lived here most of her life, she's a full-time paralegal who is registered with the Ohio State Bar Association and works at the Stacey & Powers law firm in Columbiana. Her husband George, a Perry Township police sergeant, helps out and creates jewelry from vintage flatware.
Under the name G & L Treasures, Mlinarcik sells their creations at craft shows, on their Facebook page, on their website at gandltreasures.com, on Etsy and at a couple of Beloit establishments, A Gathering Place and The Rustic Nail.
She never had any art classes or training and started out about nine years ago making cancer awareness bracelets out of fiber optic cat's eye beads and sterling silver. She sold her bracelets at a local salon and participated in her first craft show at West Branch Middle School. It all kind of snow-balled from there.
"Jewelry's always been my vice and probably my passion," she said.
She taught herself everything through trial and error, watching videos on YouTube and just bouncing ideas back and forth with George. She prefers to use natural stones and items found in nature, such as beach glass they gather from the shores of Lake Erie.
The pop bottle idea took some doing. They tried a lot of different methods for cutting the glass and found a way that worked for what she wanted. She wore samples to work to test them out. Just short of a year, she achieved the bracelet she wanted and has been able to successfully repeat the process, with each piece unique.
Mlinarcik said they try to use the entire bottle, with earrings made out of the top lip and pendants made from the top section, bracelets from the middle section embossed with the Coca-Cola name and even the bottom turned into paperweights, highlighted by the location of the bottling plant.
She also creates wire-wrapped jewelry and jewelry items using gemstones and beach glass. She said George records the maker and the pattern when he reshapes flatware, including spoons and forks.
"This is kind of like our stress relief from our jobs," she said.
Mlinarcik has had success through the craft shows and social networking, still doing about 15 local craft shows per year, some large and some small, from Boardman and Canfield to Columbiana and New Garden. The business has worked well for them and there's even a following of customers now. She also does fundraisers for groups.
"I feel very privileged. I feel George and I are very blessed," she said.
Mlinarcik is a member of Self-Representing Artists in Jewelry Design, which is a support organization of jewelry artists.