For almost five years, I have been making laser cut acrylic jewellery and have loved every minute of it, until earlier this year. Back in Spring, I started to feel uneasy in my business and couldn't put my finger on why, until I had a stall at the Endless Love Creative craft fair in between two lovely ladies. Jen runs Wren and Wilson and her stall was a David Attenborough pop-up featuring her own pieces alongside products by other creatives-all eco-friendly and totally plastic free. On my other side was Molly's brand Nuditee, which celebrates the human body in all it's forms on a variety of environmentally friendly products. So there I was, surrounded by beautiful, plastic free, sustainable products with a stall packed to the rafters with plastic! The next day, the source of my unease was finally clear to me; I had been striving towards being plastic free in every aspect of my life, my food, my toiletries, my clothing, even in my business where I use cardboard mailers packed with recycled paper (shredded Who Gives a Crap toilet roll wrappers!) But, I was making my jewellery out of virgin plastic and realised that I had to stop. Acrylic is just another plastic made from petroleum and I have always believed that oil should be left in the ground, so it didn't make sense for me to be basing my business around such a planet destroying material and I had to make a change.
To explain my new project, first let me take you back in time to January 2018; my partner and I were living in Reading and considering a BIG move up to Sheffield so we were planning a trip for my birthday to make sure that we liked it there. With the trip and a potential move to pay for, I needed to raise some extra cash and that's when I got the idea for Lorelai's Leftovers! I had a huge box filled with acrylic shapes that were leftover from making my jewellery, so I decided to make them all up in to creative colourful creations that my customers could buy at bargain prices. The zero waste line was a hit and I managed to raise enough cash to pay for the entire trip to Sheffield and help fund the move. After the move, my mental health hit an all time low and the lead up to Christmas was particularly stressful, so I decided to take a break in January to experiment with single use plastics, something I had wanted to do since I had started my Leftovers line. I called this Experimental January; I used the time off to have a play with plastic straws and bags and see what I could achieve armed with just an iron, a pair of scissors and those little handheld die cut punches. It was amazing to spend a month playing with materials and not having to worry about trying to make and sell items and work on all of the hundreds of other jobs involved in running an independent business. This experimentation then became Leftovers 2.0; I started to combine the leftover acrylic shapes with the single use plastics to make really unique pieces, which then evolved even further when I discovered a huge jar of broken jewellery in my local charity shop and decided to incorporate the beads and chains in to my pieces.
Then in September, I took myself off to a workshop run by Jessica Grady-an embroidery artist who does beautiful things with interesting materials; she makes sequins out of bubble wrap, stitches in to straws and elastic bands and dyes and paints metal washers; she combines all of this with digitally printed fabrics to create colourful, textural art pieces. During this workshop, she opened my eyes to even more ways that I could recycle plastics. Fast forward to 2020 and I have officially closed down my laser cut acrylic jewellery line and I am spending a couple of months experimenting with all of the waste materials that I can get my hands on as well as finding creative ways that I can use up all of the acrylic sheets I have left without the use of a laser. My aim is to save as much material from landfill as possible, combining single use plastics with textile techniques such as knit, embroidery and crochet to turn trash into treasure!