A photo essay of the re-imagining of a simple bracelet, quirky brooch and a couple of necklaces into a pair of earrings.
Here’s a daunting fact; nearly every piece of plastic EVER MADE still exists today!
I’m just emerging from a black-hole of information on the manufacture, make-up, and end-of-life possibilities of nylon vs hemp. I’m exploring their properties as two possible options to use for the pendants of my new collection.
On the one hand you have nylon which is really strong and durable, looks fantastic and comes in truly magnificent colours. But, it is made using crude oil, requires lots of energy to make it, and produces CO2 emissions and a whole lot of other nasties which you can read about on this terrific blog here.
A fact in its favour is that it can be recycled, but, let’s be honest, the likelihood of people making the effort to recycle their small bit of nylon thread is very low.
Hemp, on the other hand, seems to be the goody-two-shoes of thread! One of its most impressive credentials is that it is “among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years…” (thanks HIA) Does that blow your mind? It does mine. 10,000 years? That’s what I call sustainable! (by contrast the first bit of nylon was made on the 28th of February, 1935 – and, since it is of the plastic family, we know that every single piece of nylon that has been produced since that day most likely still exists on the planet somewhere. Ick.).
Anyway, I haven’t been able to find out much about the processing of hemp (dying, factory conditions, energy required to convert it from a plant into thread etc), but the fibre itself seems almost infallible. With only 8 natural enemies (out of 100 common pests) it is usually grown without pesticides (less pollution of our water ways and poisoning of the land), has very long fibres (longer and tougher than cotton), and is even good to eat (totally irrelevant to this blog but true none the less). It’s grown in Oz but sent OS for processing as we don’t have the set-up here yet (looks like they’re planning one for Qld some time soon).
The hemp I’m considering purchasing comes from Romania (Romania has a great and long association with hemp – unfortunately 50% of the general population are unhappy with their working conditions so this may mean that it’s made in a factory where conditions aren’t so great, I don’t know this for sure yet). Another brand comes from the USA but as growing hemp there is banned, I’m not sure where the fibre comes from or where or how it is processed.
From a design point of view, hemp’s available in many great colours (which coincidently go very well with the colour scheme in my new collection), and comes in a lovely polished finish. Almost perfect. But it’s so un-cool! (Yes, I am aware of how un-cool using a term like un-cool makes me sound. What evs.) Mention hemp and most will picture a hippy in dust-coloured Hessian-like trousers. Well, people, its time we changed that. The argument for natural fibres is clearly a strong one. From start to finish, their impact on the Earth is much lower.
So caught up in the nylon v hemp battle I almost forgot to address the topic of this blog; I have signed myself up for Plastic-free July. Read more about the awesome folks in WA running this here (you could even sign yourself up!). I’ve no doubt this will be challenging, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. I like to participate in a bit of extreme behaviour every now and then. The last time I did something similar was the ‘two-dollar a day’ challenge set by the kids at Oaktree. I had to eat on a budget of $2 a day for a week. Think about that for a moment. No coffee (had to go cold turkey) and only the tiniest amount of milk, sugar and salt to prop up my diet of beans, oats, rice and, well, that was pretty much it. But out of that experience I learned how to fit breakfast into my morning routine, broke my dairy addiction and gained an enormous appreciation of how ridiculously hard it must be to have to survive on that amount day-in day-out (important to note that a large percentage of the world’s population have to include medical and general living expenses in their $2 a day budget). So, as I say, bring it on!
In a little beach town called Torquay lives a gorgeous little workshop named Zeally and Cliff. I recently delivered a full-day workshop here and had a delightful day with the ladies who came to learn how to fix and re-create their old jewellery.
Here’s what some of the students had to say about the workshop:
“I learnt some great skills and Emma is a very lovely, relaxed and patient tutor and was generous in sharing her skills. A warm and cosy room” Sarah, Jan Juc.
“Thought [it was] fantastic from start to finish, great, thoroughly enjoyed the day. Emma explained things really well…. it was great to be shown and then do it myself. I was also inspired by what everybody else was making.” Deb, Parkdale.
Zeally and Cliff was a beautiful place to teach; the workshop room was sunny and open, and our host Kathryn is one of the loveliest people you’ll meet. If you’re in the area, I recommend checking them out!
Well, it hasn’t even been officially launched yet but our first piece from the new Tucker & Grace collection shone bright under the spotlight while adorning the lovely neck of one Missy Higgins yesterday on a popular morning TV show. The amazingly talented Kate Tucker and I made this piece using 98% recycled materials. We’re pretty proud and we hope you like it too! Each piece in our collection is hand made so no two will ever be the same. And they’re so new they’re not even in the shops yet, but send us an email if you’d like to own one of these beauties for yourself.
As a result, I’ll be spending the next six months in residence at Northcity4 contemporary jewellery studio. While I’m there I’ll be researching and creating a sustainable collection of jewellery with the support of Northcity4 director and tenant, Ali Limb. I’ll also be working with Northcity4 to develop a list of recommendations and an action plan for sustainable improvements to their studio.
I have moved in and am LOVING spending time making jewellery surrounded by other professional jewellers and like-minded people. Here’s some pics of the studio – I haven’t quite got around to making my bench area look pretty yet but you can see it’s in a nice productive mess already.
Thank you to all the amazing people who generously gave their support!!!
Matt Wicking, Anna Davern, Sam Dugdale, Fin Mactier, Cheryl duxson, Philippa Davern, sarah edwards, Paul Fritze, Nicola Cerini, Melanie Katsalidis, Ramona Barry, Lisa Lubbock, Ilka White, Kate Stanton, Nadine Treister, Vicki Mason, Karen O Donovan, Jane Newbery, Kirsty Smith, Roseanne Bartley, Min Oliver, Loring Harkness, Maria Lieberth, Maria Lieberth, Nina Ellis, Danni Bryant, Ali Crowe, Zoe Brand, Mel Young, Florian Kaiser, Laura Binks, Julie Kiefel, Elenni Balis, Frances Alanna Knight, Jillian Carroll, Vesna Stefanov, Emily Dunstan, Jess Fritze, Peter & Meredith Wicking, allona goren, Lilli McCubbin, Kate Tucker, Liz Kennedy, Suzy Sagar, Jess Telford, Caz Guiney, Katherine Bowman, Valerie Odewahn, Jo Jepsen, Deborah McArdle, Claire McArdle, Inari Kiuru, Lucy James, Vicky Wittmann-lamb, Liz Franzmann, Erica Sanders, Karyn Herath, Eliza Muirhead, Lara Hook and Cass Partington.
If you haven’t yet heard of Do Re Me it’s time to get with the program. The Craft Cubed festival program that is! Do Re Me has created a festival within a festival; ‘Share the Love’ is a celebration of all things crafty with a host of fantastic workshops and creative happenings.
Last Saturday I hosted a bumper four-hour edition of The Treasury at Do Re Me headquarters in Elsternwick. Incorporating a shop and a workshop area, visiting Do Re Me on a grey winter’s afternoon is like walking into a rosewater-frosted cupcake that has just come out of the oven – all warm and tasty, and filled with sweetness and light!
These gorgeous pendants were made by an 11 year old who had carefully selected each trinket to represent the person who was to receive the necklace as a gift!
The Treasury was mentioned in Michael Green‘s article in The Age yesterday, Fix the world, piece by piece. The article talks about FixIt‘s initiative to encourage people to get together in small groups and fix their stuff, as well as the increasing interest in repair in general. It seems you could plan a round-the-world trip based on repair cafes and hubs – I made the long and complicated trip out to visit the Fixer’s Collective while in New York only to find they were closed for the summer, oh well, next time! The Bowe Reuse and Repair Centre in Sydney sounds AMAZING. Anyone want to start one with me here in Melbourne?!
The next Treasury workshop is in two weeks (Aug 25th) – as always, places are limited to 6 so make a booking quick!
I’ve collaborated with a collection of Melbourne’s most talented artists to bring together this exhibition. Each artist began with a pair of earrings and a necklace designed by me. Together we worked to re-imagine them, incorporating their skills, aesthetics and materials to articulate and illuminate new ideas, new feelings and new perspectives.
Participating artists: Clare James, Nicholas Jones, Chaco Kato, Ellie Mücke, Tai Snaith, Kate Tucker, Beck Wheeler.
When: Opening 6-8pm, Tue 7 Aug 2012
Where: e.g. etal,167 Flinders Lane,Melbourne
Exhibition runs 6-18 Aug 2012
The Treasury will be giving three free workshops at the Sustainable Living Festival this Saturday!
We’ll be putting on a taster for those interested in fixing, tweeking or re-imagining their old jewellery.
Workshops will be running from 3 to 6pm at ‘Under the Gums’, Birrarung Marr.
Kicking off this Friday is also the Melbourne Bikefest.
As a lover of art and culture, who uses a bike to just generally ‘get around’, I’m pretty excited about the festival program this year. Of particular interest is the Bikefest Bike Runway which will be showcasing local designers and fashionistas alongside their wheels of steel.
See you there!