Back in 2007, a friend gave Jodey Hathaway an ankle bracelet fashioned from a bicycle chain. Perhaps not everyone’s idea of high fashion, but it suited Hathaway’s sense of style. It didn’t quite fit, though. She needed to remove a link to make it a little smaller.
Like all good cyclists, Hathaway had her own chain tool to do the job.
That gift – and the simple adjustment she needed to make to it – inspired her to begin making and selling her own jewelry from bicycle parts. She hadn’t made jewelry before of any kind. Perhaps it isn’t the typical career track for someone who graduated from NC State 1996 with a degree in history.
But Hathaway says her line of untypical jewelry has engaged a creative urge that she’s always found a way to satisfy. Before the jewelry, there were the custom candy wrappers.
“I’ve always been kind of creative and on the funkier end of style,” says Hathaway from her home in Houston, Tex., where she lives with her husband and two sons after moving from Fuquay-Varina, N.C., last year. “But the funny thing is, I don’t wear jewelry myself.”
She sells her jewelry through her own business, bikepartjewelry.com, and in a few stores from Boulder, Colo., to Greenville, S.C. Her jewelry incorporates chain parts such as the little plates on the side of chain, the rollers that engage the gear cogs, the cogs themselves and the small nuts that tighten over the valve stems on wheels.
“The longer I’ve been doing this,” Hathaway says, “I find fewer cyclists buying my things.” Instead, she says, purchasers are difficult to categorize.
“I’m always amazed when I do shows, people make unexpected choices. Men’s bracelets may appeal to women,” Hathaway says. “People think the biker crowd is a good market. It sells to whoever finds it and likes it. It’s kind of industrial looking, and funky.”
Now the jewelry has led to a different artistic expression for Hathaway: chain maille. Hathaway has always used the small “jump rings” used in chain maille to make her jewelry. She’s devoting more time now to using chain maille to make jewelry without bike parts (“sans velo” and clothing items with chain maille).
“It’s cool and fun to make, and it’s not overdone,” Hathaway says. “It’s figuring out the right metal for the particular application.”