An interview with artisan Laurette, about her sustainable recycled jewellery range Be-Cycle Trashion Jewellery, produced in a small studio, based in France.
I trained as silversmith at Plymouth Art college in Devon England, but now I am based in France ( I am half French) where I have a workshop and still make a small amount of silver jewellery that I sell locally, but over the years I have been turning more and more to recycled, reclaimed and salvaged materials to make jewellery and accessories. Mainly due to the polluting extraction techniques legal or illegal, violence and warfare associated with some precious gem mining, and more often than not the exploitation of the workers. Also due to fact that we live in a world where every thing is disposable. I enjoy the challenge of turning useless in to useful and beautiful.
Can you tell us about your products?
I do a range of jewellery from bicycle inner tubes, I like working with this material as it has certain of the quality’s of leather, but also some interesting quality’s of it’s own (it is elastic and I like to make use of this in my jewellery designs) I also do ranges of jewellery from melted, fused glass bottles, beer bottle caps, ring pulls, up-cycled plastic packaging, natural materials such as twig beads, stones and vintage objects. Part of the creative process is collecting sufficient quantity’s to be able to play around with a new material; this is one of the most enjoyable moments, getting new ideas and inspiration.
My workshop is cluttered with experimental pieces and volumes of collected recyclable materials all this gets my creative juices going. I have to work with the limitations that using up-cycled materials posses but this adds an interesting dimension to the creative process, having to work out new techniques and even making or adapting certain tools.
Bicycle inner tubes is an interesting material to work with, can you tell us why you started to work with inner tubes, and where you source your material from?
I used to live in Amsterdam for a while, and as every one knows the Dutch cycle a lot. You see all types of people in Holland riding bikes. That’s where I started using inner tubes, as I wanted to find a recyclable material that was easily available. In France, I know a friendly local bicycle repair man and he is more than willing to give me the old inner tubes, he would otherwise discard.
Are you a keen cyclist yourself?
Yes, I ride regularly, but I do think that bikes are undervalued. Cycling is a green form of transport and it helps the rider to stay fit and healthy which can only be beneficial. Here in France you rarely see anybody on a bike and cycle lanes are a novelty. Unfortunately in some places it can be too dangerous due to the large amount of traffic on the roads.
Whilst the French worship the “tour de France”, “cyclism” is a hobby that only retired men take up and practice all dressed up in Lycra body suits! Bike riding should be promoted a lot more.
We notice you have started to work with ‘natural ingredients’, we love, in particular, your pine cone necklace and earrings, this is an interesting and effective choice of material, can you tell your inspiration behind working with mother nature’s materials?
I live in the countryside and love to walk, finding inspiration in the nature that surrounds me. I believe that we have distanced ourselves from nature, and do not notice the beauty in simple natural things, concentrating only on what is modern and innovative, such as all the new synthetic materials, colours, technology. Primitive man would make jewellery from shells, feathers, stones that he would find. Jewellery doesn’t necessarily need to be shiny and be blingy!
Will you be selling your pine cone pieces in your online shop soon?
I made the pine cone jewellery mainly as a tutorial, to inspire people that you can make some thing of beauty with some simple tools and materials, you don’t need gold and silver or the new synthetic materials ( fimo etc) to make jewellery.
I try to use as much recycled materials in the design as possible, sometimes up to 100%. I never use glues, varnishes, if I do I make sure they are totally ecological or I try to find alternative ways. Using recycled materials in my jewellery designs is an ecological philosophy, to live my life as green as possible.
This summer I am planning some pop up shop events, in the South of England, Northern France, Berlin Germany, Copenhagen Denmark, and possibly some other locations. I would like to be able to devote more time to my blog, It is not easy
juggling making, selling, blogging and living. I am working on a range of pebble jewellery one of the reasons I am in Cornwall at the moment. And I am widening the range in the inner tube jewellery and shall hopefully start to make accessories as well, such as belts, belt/bag type things, smart phone case etc.
You can shop Be-Cycle Trashion Jewellery from Recycled Market > here