Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thoughts On "Greenwashing"

I've been hearing a lot about the term "greenwashing" lately. There is a growing wave of backlash against products marketed as being environmentally friendly or recycled when a closer examination reveals that their claims are thin at best.

Articles like these:

I'm sure no one is surprised by this. Big business wants to latch on to the trend of green, independent, handmade - small.

In my own life, my work as a designer and crafter sometimes overlaps with being a writer and marketer. So while I understand the frustration of consumers that feel they've been deceived, I also understand the need companies have to convey every possible benefit their products offer.

Bottom line, I agree with full transparency. And I strive for that in every way with my own work, disclosing everything I can think of. I'm completely open about the fact that not all of my supplies are recycled.

I would never claim that recycling bits of computer parts, electronics, gears, and general junk is going to move landfill mountains.

I do, however, hope that when someone wears one of my motor winding necklaces, a computer part ring, or a pocket watch pendant, that these accessories serve as a symbol. My vision is that each person who wears a little bit of junk is making a statement that we don't want disposable possessions and constant manufacturing of goods we don't really need.

It's probably naive, but I'd like to think that trashion can start conversations that get bigger than fashion.

When those conversations take place, I hope the average person won't dwell on the new thread used in making a dress from two old sweaters. It's the bigger idea that counts.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Top 10 Ways to Get Good Junk & Supplies

Supply sources in Vancouver & beyond

Over the past few years, I've had lots of people ask me where I find the funky parts I use in my jewellery. Since my answers have always been complicated and convoluted, I'm putting all the links together here.

I source all my supplies with reusing and recycling as my first priority. Browsing junk and taking apart watches, electronics, and computer hardware is a great way to unleash creativity.

When it's the concept that comes first, I try to think about what I already have and what parts are already out in the world in circulation. It's a great strategy for life in general.

However, when a really great idea strikes and no amount of searching can produce the supplies I need second-hand, I look to several handy online or brick-and-mortar resources. So my list covers sources of used and new material.

Here in Vancouver, I like:

The Vancouver Flea Market
This funky weekend market is a great place to find the junk drawers of hundreds of people, all emptied under one roof. It reminds me of a cross between the Floating Market from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and the space port from Firefly and Serenity.

Urban Source
An art supply store that specializes in reclaiming leftovers from manufacturing and generally unusual items. I find a new delight each time I get the chance to visit.

Value Village
Sure, it's a chain, but you can't fault them for that when reusing and recycling is their business. I'm always dissapointed to see a flood of disposable plastic every Halloween, but other than that, they're a great place to find bags of watches, obselete gadgets, and small appliances that have seen better days.

There's no getting around it; this is an international chain and everything they carry is mass produced. But they do carry a few items I like to work with. Due to to price and ethics, I seriously limit the supplies purchased here.

Online, based in Canada and the US:

The Northern Bead Company
Based in Ontario, they have a great selection of Swarovski crystals, specifically in shapes and colours I found nowhere else. Other standard beading goodies as well.

The Beady Eye
Another Ontario-based store, they started on Etsy and I've been a fan from my first purchase. I love their chain and findings.

Dime Store Emporium
Another store that started on Etsy, this boutique is a great source for charms and stampings, mostly copper and brass. Selected charms are available with a patina already applied.

When you're looking for authentic vintage enamel or lucite flowers and beads BlueBird has you covered. She also writes a blog called Blue Bird Lucy's.

Etsy Shops
Browsing with keywords that relate to your project idea will sometimes turn up smaller sellers that have a few things you'll fall in love with. You might only buy from a smaller seller once, but I still recommend general browsing.

eBay Sellers
Like Etsy, you'll find that eBay sellers range from large stores to sellers with only a few items. The key difference is the auction element for many listings. Sometimes bidding on an auction is the best way to make supplies affordable, but this can be a frustrating process if you have a really great idea and you just want your gear already. Depending on what you're looking for, you could be outbid a dozen times before you get a good deal. Great for patient bargain hunters.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Clickable, Flickable, Twistable Parts

A friend was browsing through my store a few weeks ago, and the pieces she picked out immediately were the spinner rings. She loved that the parts still moved. That was my favourite part of each piece too.

I delight in being able to preserve a working button, switch, dial or other moving part from an old hard drive, DVD ROM, computer component or other piece of electronic equipment.

So I thought I'd collect up some of my designs with moving parts, and dedicate a blog post just to them. Although none of these fixtures still perform their intended tasks, they're pretty fun to play with.

Cyborg Cameo Necklace
(button clicks)

Sound of Trashion Dial*
(dial twists 360°)

Switchback Pendant*
(spring-loaded switch moves)

Switch Set
(all switches move)

Steampunk Set
(arm turns and gears move)

Motor West
(wheels turn)

Spinner Ring
(top piece moves indefinitely in either direction)

Wonder Winding Spinner Ring
(winding and accents move indefinitely in either direction)

Directionless Ring
(compass moves, but isn't accurate)

Screwy Idea Pendant
(watch case opens like a locket)

Originally published at: SleeplessStoryteller

Saturday, October 23, 2010

DIY Enamel

I've been getting ridiculously frustrated with sourcing vintage enamel recently.

For most of my jewellery, I start with junk, then see what I can make. But for some pieces, I want a few special touches and I need outside supplies.

And sometimes once I've got those supplies, I get inspired to make something from scratch. Most of my flowers and butterflies fall under the 'supply' category.

Last week, while browsing online for some economical enameled flowers (in vintage jewellery or as loose charms) - and finding the selection slim and overpriced - it occurred to me, "Why can't I just do this myself?" And it turns out I could.

Butterflies previously silver-toned, flowers previously brass

So for all the other crafters out there finding enamel charms getting rarer and more expensive, hit the nearest hobby shop and pick up a jar of paint for $2.50. You'll never catch yourself trolling eBay again. (Well, not for enamel flowers.)

Now for the rosary upcycle. I wouldn't classify the rosary as junk. But as it wasn't going to serve either of its original purposes - of garnering a donation or as a prayer guide. So it became two new things.

Butterfly statement necklace with watch parts and Lucite flowers

Locket necklace, brass and red aluminum

Originally published at: SleeplessStoryteller


I found a new word today! I love finding new words, but this one was particularly spectacular as it applies to my Bits & Baubles.

Wikipedia says:

"Trashion is a term for art, jewelry, fashion and objects for the home from used, thrown-out, found & repurposed elements. Trashion is a philosophy and an ethic. It encompasses environmentalism and innovation, and respects the human creative and healing potential."

Read the rest here.

Originally published at: SleeplessStoryteller

Art & Retail Therapies

I can't speak for everyone, but I know resorting to retail therapy is pretty common these days.

Bad day at work? Go shopping. Big disappointment? Hit the mall and buy something pretty. And although that sounds gender-based, I'm sure men get sucked into retail therapy too.

But my recent surge into my jewellery-making hobby has revealed something wholly unexpected; my personal cure for the retail-rut blues.

Sitting down to turn junk into jewellery seems to stop the gap I used to fill with random, mass-produced trinkets, clothes, etc.

It made even more sense having recently read one of the SideStreets novels in the series I'll be adding to this fall.

"Making things helps." - Scarred, Monique Polak

I think Wikipedia should add jewellery to it's definition of Art Therapy.

Originally published at: SleeplessStoryteller

Weclome to Beyond the Junkpile

This is a brand new blog about recycling, trashion, and steampunk. Design and trends in making junk into new treasures.

These first few blog posts will be content originally published on my SleeplessStoryteller blog at:

Stay tuned for links, resources, and supplies for funky crafting.