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One Persons Trash Is Another Persons Jewelry

ATHENS, GREECE -- Environmental consciousness shapes the thoughts and decisions of us all, more and more with every passing day. The creative world is highly reflective of this movement. As ecological awareness has had an effect on what people choose to put in their homes and bodies, it has also extended to what they choose to put on their walls and bodies.

Ethically, as well as aesthetically, the use of recycled materials is making a noticeable impact in art and design. Jewelry is no exception. “Jewelry, as an art form, lends itself to the use of recycled and found items,” says R. Nakatani, a jewelry shop curator from Athens, Greece.

It’s becoming quite the trend, in fact. Shops such as Ms. Nakatani’s are proof of both the output by designers and the interest of consumers. “People are using the most unexpected things as material. As a curator, I find it very exciting when an artist creates a piece that looks so polished that you wouldn’t guess that it came from a recycled source, or even trash!” laughs Nakatani.

A good example is the work of Beth Martini, a jewelry artist, who operates the 3409 label in Seattle, Washington. She incorporates urban harvested hardwoods and other organic materials (as seen in Photo 1), which have been recycled or appropriated for reuse. Starting with unassuming pieces of recycled wood, her fabrication techniques shape them into objects that finish with a fresh look not necessarily associated with “recycled art” (as seen in Photo 2).

Both the size range and overt ornamental qualities of jewelry make it a great venue for incorporating diverse materials. Many artists working in this form also find it easier to spend a little bit more money on ecologically friendly materials, because they do not tend to need a large quantity.

Such is the case with recycled metals. As the market for green-minded design expands, the demand for such material is also growing. There are a number of companies that provide recycled brass, copper, silver, and gold at varying degrees of post-consumer content.

While a number of established designers are going out of their way to use friendly materials, some younger, burgeoning artists are pulling from even more eccentric material sources to create. Aside from the standard fare of materials one might associate with jewelry making, artists are experimenting with a wide array of non-traditional materials. Some makers are finding new sources to pull from, which are sometimes right under their noses.

Everyday household items are making appearances in modern jewelry design. Plastic, metal, and glass items, often deconstructed or prepared, are being given a second chance as elements of handcrafted pieces of jewelry. From pieces of glass bottles and aluminum to computer parts and chopped up compact discs, it’s open season on objects that might have ended up in the landfill. Such commonplace objects can spark some big ideas.

This trend, which is on the upswing, offers great potential for those interested in both traditional and avant-garde jewelry design. There are many sources to look to when considering recycled or reusable material, and even more creative ways to incorporate them.

Whether you’re searching for recycled material providers, or reexamining your own recycling bin, the saying about one person’s trash being another’s treasure has turned out to be truer than ever.


Photos Courtesy Of: Beth Martini