Friday, August 22, 2008

Feeling Crafty, Like a Bastard.

I'm excited to share that I have been accepted to be part of the Washington CityPaper's annual Crafty Bastards event. You're probably asking yourself, what would a blogger do at an arts & crafts fair? Well, over the last 5 years, or so, I have also made jewelry. I had my own online store (until a month ago) and did a lot of custom work and sold my wares at various boutiques, markets and shows around DC. However, over the past 8 months I have been focusing more on my MBA and my "day job" (or lack thereof), so the jewelry has been on hiatus.

There was also another reason why I scaled down my jewelry work. In 2007, I went through the process of applying to the Fulbright Program to do research on gemstone mining and how to make mining projects more environmentally and socially sustainable. Even though I didn't get the fellowship, I learned a lot (more than I ever wanted to know) about how environmentally damaging - and unjust - the gemstone and precious metals supply chain is. I felt very selfish indulging my creativity in a way that was so damaging to our planet.

Oh, but it's such a complicated issue. Precious metals and gemstones are only a small part of what humanity mines out of the earth. We extract all kinds of other things from the earth (coal, steel, nickel . . .hello, OIL!) that we depend on every day of our lives without even noticing. Plus, mining projects can actually be beneficial (if done in the right way) to the populations that live nearby. More on that, too. But later.

Even though I felt guilty, the jewelry bug kept buzzing in my head. So, I decided to look for more sustainable materials to work with. It took a while to come up with something that worked for my design aesthetic and how I wanted to price my jewelry (so that you didn't need to spend your entire paycheck on it). I still use silver, brass, some gold and semi-precious gemstones, but I have also started trolling flea markets for secondhand and vintage materials.

Here are two pix of my new designs (both incorporating leather from a vintage handbag):

I am excited about being able to reuse old things to make new things. That is really the greenest way to live. I hope to continue increasing the amount of vintage and reclaimed materials I use in my designs.

Maybe I'll see you at Crafty Bastards?


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