Many people feel that recycled art has a certain look to it, almost hokey or very folk in nature. While that can be the case, I like to go out of my way to make my recycled art look like something new or a unearthed treasure. One of my favorite forms of recycled art is in jewelry. I am always on the hunt for vintage beads, chains, findings, “junk beads” (basically beads that are not uniform in shape and are normally discarded), reclaimed wood and bone. Garage Sales, Swap Meets, Thrift Stores and old dusty little gift shops are some of my favorite places to find them. When traveling I also keep an eye open for artisans who work with reclaimed materials, by buying their work you are supporting ecologically sound resourcing, individual artists and their communities.
I always research any vintage or odd pieces I find to make sure it is not more valuable in the original state, I go out of my way to preserve artwork from past ages. I feel any responsible recycled art artisans should do the same. Once I find out it has little or no value in the current state I go to work dismantling, sorting and cleaning all of my finds. This is when I find some of the “trash” might be treasure, many metals age and discolor with time as well as bone, which can make a passing resemblance to plastic.
Once everything is prepped I might look at some of my history books, draw some sketches or even look to nature for inspiration. I like to start laying out objects on a soft cloth to get an idea or feel for the necklace, I might go through many versions till I am happy with the final design. The fun part for me is to see how much can I use of recycled or reclaimed supplies without resorting to buying anything new.
“Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. The main starfish is made from coconut shell from a artisan in Sri Lanka, vintage beads, vintage findings, vintage silver chain and “junk beads”. Everything on this necklace would have been melted down for metal, thrown away or discarded but instead is now a new piece of art.
Of note is there is no coral in this piece, it is all glass and recycled shell, I NEVER buy coral. The ecological impact of coral harvesting is horrific, coral is a living marine organism, home to millions of aquatic life forms and acts as a natural bulwark against heavy waves. Please use other products to reduce the demand on these fragile and amazing life forms.
Until next time, Safe Travels!