Monday, March 31, 2014

The Three R's

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Millions of people switched off their lights on Saturday night (3/29) between 8:30 and 9:30 PM, local time in celebration of Earth Hour.  Organized by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour is a grassroots movement to raise awareness about protecting our planet that started as a small-scale lights out in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has now grown to include over 150 countries on all seven continents.

While we didn't participate this year, Big and I did take part in Earth Hour 2013.  It was an amazing experience to experience life without electricity, and to sit in the quiet darkness with my daughter.  At first we never thought we'd make it an entire hour, but within just a few minutes we were playing word games and sharing stories, and the time went by so fast she didn't want to turn the lights back on when it was over.  I'm sorry to have been otherwise occupied this year and can't wait until March 28, 2015 to try it again...mark your calendars!

Things like that tend to be Big's idea.  This is a kid I have to hold back from collecting garbage along the side of the road.  On one hand, I so admire her dedication to the planet, but on the other there's the whole germ factor when your 10 year old tries to pick up used cigarette butts.  It's so different from when I was Big and Little's ages, when the three r's were reading, writing, and 'rithmetic.  Now it's all about sustainability and the environment (and Big isn't complaining...she's much more interested in the damage we're doing to our planet than she is in long division or parts of speech that don't involve Mad Libs).

My two most recent projects would make her proud, because both involve recycled/upcycled material.  I'd like to take credit for being green, but let's be honest here.  It's as much about my fledgling business' budget constraints as it is about being kind to Mother Earth.  I can't afford to waste so much as a jump ring if I can help it!

The first project was inspired by a conversation on a Facebook group for jewelry artists that I follow.  There was some talk about good sources for wire, and someone mentioned that they get theirs from, of all places, the hardware store.  Forget craft shops, jewelry-oriented on line sites...who knew that there's treasure to be had in the aisles of Home Depot?  Or, if you're married to my husband (oh, wait, I am...yay!), in the corner of the garage where he collects scrap metal left over from his many projects requiring a "Home Depot run" until there's enough to take to the recycling facility.  He did all of the electrical work for our home addition/renovation himself which means there's lots of odds and ends lying around.

So I scavenged a bit, dug into my stash of blanks for some things to go with it, and this is the end result -

The infinity symbols are made from the upcycled copper, which I formed, hammered, and added patina to for a rustic look.  Did you know you can do that using a hard boiled egg?  I didn't, either, until I started looking on line for ways other than the toxic, icky smelling chemicals I didn't own anyway.  And the sources I found weren't kidding.  A hard boiled egg, a zippered baggie, and voila!

It was quick, easy, inexpensive, non-toxic, and actually sort of therapeutic when I smashed the egg.  Plus I made some extra eggs at the same time for Big and her dad to snack on.  A win all around, I'd say.  I put the antiqued pieces on some copper chain, with hand stamped brass tags for "mother" and "daughter".  

Those were finished and posted to the shop just the other day so it was time to move on.  On Saturday morning, I was itching to start a new project but couldn't get outside to my work bench...I had to drop Big off at her Tae Kwon Do class, then come home to take Little to her Girl Scout activity.  Something I could do at the kitchen table in a narrow window of time was called for.  Then I remembered that I had pieces lying around from a steampunk-inspired necklace I'd made.  The customer who ultimately bought it asked me to re-tool the pendant into something appropriate for a man.  Not my typical target audience, but girls on a budget can't be choosy, right?  A few tweaks here and there, and it transformed from a necklace fit for a modern-day princess to a keychain.

That had left me with the "imagine" plaque lying around (and I won't tell you how many tries it took me to get it right in the first place so I was determined not to waste it!) plus some extra gear pieces from the original package.  A little brainstorming (and a major need to use my riveter!) left me here -

Brass cogs, with recycled copper swirls.  The Swarovski crystal is purple, the color of imagination.  Needs a few tweaks, I think.  I might redo the copper swirls attaching the imagine plaque since the one on the left in the picture shows a tool mark, but that's also part of the charm.  It's perfectly imperfect, all done by hand, and still has possibilities.  What do you think?

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