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!
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.
Using the Sustainable Living Festival to launch this Melbourne initiative, the goal is to divert waste, build skills, and model systems-thinking by having skilled volunteers guide the public through their own repair tasks in a social atmosphere.
Fix It is a volunteer, community and free public event. Our hope is for people to return home from this event inspired to host their own skills exchanges, big or small. We imagine Fix It events could fit many forms: work drinks, a BBQ, a school club, workshops, a skills auction, a stall at the farmer’s market.
Info for Volunteer Fixers
The Fix It Sustainable Living Fest event needs Fixers (that’s you) 10:45 am-4:15 pm on Sunday 19 Feb. We’ll hold one orientation meeting beforehand around 1 Feb. We are looking for Fixers in the areas of “Stitches” (textiles), “Switches” (lamp repair & rejuvenation), and “Splinters” (woodworking with hand tools). We hope you can bring along tools to use, but will try to help with a small amount of materials to fix/upcycle & common tools. We’re also hoping to provide you lunch…
Interested Fixers, please email April the following info:
a. 1-3 sentences of bio for the public. Who are you? What is your passion?
b. What skills would you like to share?
c. What are your favourite fixing/making resources in Melbourne?
d. Would you like an A4 pin board space to display your business/contact info or project of choice? You can also hand out business cards while you’re fixing if you like.
e. What extras would you like us to provide for your work? Electricity, scrap fabric/wood, sockets, batteries, etc?
Look forward to seeing you there!
Wow, what an honour to be featured along side all of these amazing people!
Sustainable, social and ethical change makers made up a big part of this year’s Top 100. Among them, the lovely Nerida Lennon is making a documentary on sustainable fashion and the future of the fashion industry, the talented Anisha Bhoyro is a slow fashion advocate, who’s approach to fashion involves using zero-waste design principles when designing her garments, and the forward thinking Juliette Anich, co-founder of The Clothing Exchange and creator of Urban Food Maps.
I’ve had a few enquiries about the quartz-crystal necklace I’m wearing in this shot. While this particular piece is a one-off, I will be making more. But as I have decided to only use second-hand crystals (that which I can pick up at op-shops, garage sales and through trusted sellers online), you may have to be patient. If you would like one of these necklaces and have a crystal you’d like me to use I’d be happy to make one to order. Otherwise email me and I’ll pop you’re name on the waiting list.
Speaking of my jewellery, I have new pieces in e.g.etal and they have a gorgeous new online store – yum-o!
And last but not least – check out my new-look website designed by the uber-talented Jacqui Lau. And my modest little BigCartel store selling Gift Certificates for The Treasury and my Little Wonder earrings made out of Sterling Silver and recycled plastic.
Had the most wonderful time yesterday at The Treasury workshop!
Apart from the usual fixing and re-imagining of our old jewellery, we also made pompoms out of vintage fabric to put on the Christmas tree!
Its very easy and looks wonderful – you’re welcome to use the idea for yourself. Happy making!