What can you do with unusable jewelry? For some folks, the answer is to donate it to Ethical Metalsmiths, a New York-based organization dedicated to promoting mining practices that respect and protect the earth, its people and cultures.
To advance its mission, Ethical Metalsmiths founded the Radical Jewelry Makeover Artist Project, which inspires jewelers to turn old, damaged and unwearable necklaces, brooches, rings and earrings into fascinating contemporary creations. There are 88 pieces of repurposed wearable art, created by 20 of the project’s artists, on display and for sale at form & concept through February 19.
“Each jeweler was asked to make jewelry out of a variety of materials they were given,” explains form & concept’s director Frank Rose, who adds that the materials ranged from precious metals and stainless steel to enamel, reclaimed horn, abalone, plastic, glass and fishing line. “What they came up with is really amazing. Every piece is one-of-a-kind.”
The show features a number of brooches. Chicago jeweler Sarah Holden’s French Hook Chandelier Brooch uses a vintage brooch, sterling silver, rose quartz beads and French hook ear wires. San Francisco Bay Area metalsmith Curtis Arima displays three different brooches, including his Shifting Hierarchy Royal Blue Brooch containing found objects, gold, silver, copper and enamel. Another Bay Area artist, Deb Lozier, created the Red Nubbin Brooch with wood beads, copper, brass and cotton thread.
Seattle artist Melissa Cameron also designed several brooches as well as a silver pendant made with steel cable and a recycled candlestick bottom. Stephanie Voegele, a Wisconsin-based jeweler, incorporated a recycled vintage purse into one of her necklaces.
Alongside the jewelry are paintings of mine shafts by Utah artist Jean Arnold and drawings of mine shafts by Santa Fe artist Nina Elder.