Please welcome the newest contributor to Try Handmade: Rebecca Hadfield! Every week she will be bringing you eco-goodness with her column “Going Green.”
Please stop by the comments section after reading her first post and make her feel welcome!
With the rapid advance of technology, the electronics manufacturing industry is disposing of its obsolete parts at an alarming rate, making e-waste a concern to both the industry itself, as well as the public. By diverting unused computer and electronics components from the landfill and into our jewelry boxes, crafters such as Ruth Smith are leading the eco-crafting brigade.
As soon as Erika gave me the go-ahead to write the “Going Green” column on Try Handmade, I knew my first piece would be about Ruth Smith of PeriwinkleDzyns. Not only is Ruth a friend of mine, she is an an amazing crafter whose work is innovative, clever, and eco-friendly. Her beyond-cool jewelry appeals to such a broad audience – from the geeks to the chic. “Initially, I expected it to only appeal to geeks. You know, IT workers like myself; gamers, computer nerds and such”, says Ruth.
While that is indeed her core customer base, she has also sold numerous pieces to everyone from kids buying gifts for Mom or Dad to grandmothers picking up something a little different to wear to bridge Club. As Ruth puts it, “Bling has universal appeal and bling that helps the environment is doubling appealing.”
So, how did Ruth get her start in the world of eco-crafting? Two years ago, the mother of two teenagers was working as a Information Technology Project Manager for a large multi-national manufacturer. Inspiration struck when a bag of scrap resistors caught her eye. Already a crafter with an innate sense of ingenuity and thrift, Ruth turned the cast-off parts into an attention-grabbing lanyard. Around the same time, Ruth was opening her Etsy shop, PeriwinkleDzyns, selling traditional beaded jewelry. The “geekery line” of upcycled e-waste pieces was added to the shop. As it grew in popularity, the line was expanded on until it became the core of her business.
Today Ruth’s Etsy shop is a whirlwind of activity, with new items being added on a constant basis. Resistors, washers, circuit boards, and capacitors that would normally hit the landfill, come to life as colourful and imaginative earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and pins. Clearly, it takes a lot of outside-the-circuit-box thinking to make e-waste and computer garbage into fun, easily-wearable pieces with such universal appeal. When asked about the challenges in creating her line from such non-traditional materials, Ruth responded, “The preparation time is longer and it’s more of a challenge to source the materials and fit them into traditional jewelery designs.” “However, the satisfaction is definitely greater”, she added, “and while I love to use traditional materials, too, it takes far less ingenuity to make a lovely pair of earrings from crystals than from computer parts.”
It goes without saying that long as there is industry, there will be industrial waste. Thankfully for us, Ruth’s imagination is as limitless as her source of waste-electronics. “I have more ideas than I will ever be able to execute in this lifetime,” Ruth says, “but nothing beats the thrill I get when I open up a new bag of salvaged parts. Often my plans are set aside when a new, never-before-considered salvage material becomes available and I get caught up in a rush of new ideas.”
Exclusive offer for Try Handmade readers only! Ruth is offering free shipping on all purchases made in the PeriwinkleDzyns Etsy store until September 19, 2009. When checking out, be sure to put “Try Handmade” in the notes to seller. PeriwinkleDzyns will then refund shipping charges on your paid-in-full Paypal transaction. Take advantage and get your holiday shopping done early!