Brenda Hancox has always been artistic.
As a former employee of the Commercial Dispatch in the 1960s and 1970s, she worked with the photo pages, creating collages of images of the Golden Triangle.
“Before, I was doing all sorts of things. I was doing bigger pictures than others and trying different things,” she recalled of the pages she created, during an interview with The Dispatch.
One day, while talking about her pages with editor Birney Imes Jr., Hancox found a nugget of truth that she still carries with her.
“He said I had an artistic sense of arrangement,” she laughed. “I guess that’s what I still do today.”
Now retired, Hancox makes art that incorporates costume jewelry. They range from turtles to seahorses to framed pieces featuring initials, words or other shapes.
“I take all these old pieces — they might be missing a few jewels in a setting or they might be broken — and try to balance the colors and the pieces,” she said.
Hancox said she started working with jewelry in the 1960s when spoon rings became popular. She put the hobby aside for a while and traveled in retirement before returning to the Golden Triangle a year and a half ago.
“I found a bag of parts I used to sell and put together a piece of art,” Hancox said. “After it was sold, I felt the need to do something and I’ve been making jewelry ever since.”
It takes about three to four hours to make a piece, depending on the size. Although she makes some parts using templates by aligning parts to work within outlines, she also creates custom parts.
“Once, I brought in a lady whose sister had died. She had all her fancy jewelry on and asked me if I could do something with it,” Hancox said. “She saw a bouquet I had made for someone else. I made a garden of jewelry that she could hang on her wall to remind her of her sister instead of having it all stuck in a drawer.
Other pieces she had made included an owl from clock parts and a mermaid that features an antique bracelet that Hancox wore when she worked as a buyer at Ruth. She also makes angels and crosses.
Hancox said she had friends who helped her find jewelry for her pieces. She also looks for them when shopping.
“I now look at old jewelry and try to imagine where I can put it in a piece or what I can do with it,” she said.