From junk to jewelry

Francine Marquis

Photo by Whitney Garcia

After retiring from her office manager job in 2010, Francine Marquis wanted to try something new and creative. She started looking at the scraps her husband saved in his auto garage, and quickly realized she could turn them into upcycled jewelry. Marquis uses tools such as grinders, drill presses and tin snips to make her unique designs featuring metals such as brass and aluminum. What's even cooler is that she does most of her creative work inside a vintage Airstream trailer. Initially, Marquis gave her creations away to friends. Eventually, one of those friends offered to display Marquis' jewelry in her store, and a business, called ShopScrap, was born. Find ShopScrap at the Birkenstock store in downtown Chico, or email

Why scrap metal?

My husband has a car shop, and I've always said that shops aren't just for guys. I've always been a part of it and I already knew how to use basic tools. One day about a year ago, we were in there and I saw some scrap and I started thinking about how I could use shop tools to make things out of the metal. I had always gravitated towards metal jewelry when I went shopping, but they were so heavy and costly. The ones I make are light and inexpensive to make, and it puts my time to good use.

How does using scrap metal affect your jewelry designs?

Well, first I had to learn how to work with metal. After I shared my idea with my husband, he taught me how to use his tools to modify the pieces. I learned how to use big tin snips for cutting, drill presses to make the holes, the soldering gun, the belt grinder, and recently a 20-ton press. I had to learn all the techniques it takes to make delicate designs. In the process of using these tools, sometimes I see a shape that I like better, and I am able to change it.

What creative designs are you planning for the future?

Now that I use the 20-ton press, I can take gears, springs and other auto parts to press into the metal. I want to see what kind of designs I can come up with. There are many tools to be used to make many things, and it's so fun.

What plans do you have for your business?

Before the display at the store, I was happy making them for the people I knew. Now, I would be delighted if I got to make more for the displays. I have started playing with the idea on putting them online or going to other stores, but not yet. We are trying it out and we will see how it goes!