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Art of the Recycled Can

Updated on February 17, 2009

Resin Redux

My obsession with resin jewelry began years ago when I found a clear Lucite ring at a flea market in Montreal. Years later when I started dabbling in traditional jewelry design, I decided it was fun but so much out there has been done already. I wanted to make my own, original pieces using a medium besides precious metal and beads. While it took almost a year of experimenting with me coming close to giving up, I figured it out. I finally managed to cast pieces with consistent results using my own molds.

As I continued experimenting with this medium, I started embedding objects inside the molds to give the piece more dimension and texture. But it wasn't colorful enough and I needed to find a medium that would allow a wider palette of color. I tried dyes but I still wasn't satisfied.

Then one day my clever husband suggested aluminum cans. At first, I thought "how weird and un-jewelry like" but I humored him and went my local recycling center. The surly woman who worked there took some convincing but she finally allowed me to rummage through piles of cans. I went home with about one dozen assorted popular beverage cans and began cutting them up and playing with the myriad of colors that they offered.

Incredible Colorful Results


It occurred to me that we often take the design worthiness for granted. Even the most common objects like aluminum cans have unique beauty and symmetry. So much work goes into designing these vessels that hold our favorite beverages. Man was I surprised how amazing the colored aluminum looked inside the clear resin. Have a look at some of my recycled resin jewelry.

Greener Medium

Choosing the right resin was a challenge. I knew that working with resin can be quite toxic not only for the artist but also for the environment. I therefore use LuxaneTM, a state-of-the-art, ecologically-friendly resin that gives off no vapors in manufacturing or ozone-depleting compounds like free-radical iso-cyanates.

This resin requires no respirators when mixing and produces no hazardous waste or by-products. As a bonus, this non-yellowing resin is UV-resistant and therefore protects each embedding from fading.

The only drawbacks are that it requires the use of special and expensive equipment and it can be quite demanding to finish. It actually requires a much longer sanding and polishing time than older generations of resin. But I believe it is well worth the effort both for my benefit and for the planet.

Recycled Jewelry as a Bonus

Okay, I'll admit that recycled jewelry is very trendy right now. Everything from clean diamonds to recycled precious metals are finding their way into the ancient art form of jewelry making. But truthfully, this was not my initial intention. I just wanted to incorporate color into my resin jewelry and the recycled aspect turned out to be a bonus. The combination of resin and aluminum cans couldn't be any further from traditional jewelry. In fact, many people still view plastic as just that, a piece of plastic and not "real" jewelry. Obviously, I disagree but to each his own.


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    • StephanieP profile image

      StephanieP 3 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Hi wordnut! Thanks so much for the props! I don't make 'em these days.

    • wordnut profile image

      Mister Word 3 years ago from Californiaaah

      Stephanie, these are beautiful! Inspired! Cool!

      Is there somewhere can get them?

    • profile image

      Marc 5 years ago

      Any body can help me find Luxane Resins? Where can I buy it? Thanks.

    • profile image

      dasi 6 years ago

      I just Love them!

    • profile image

      mary 7 years ago

      thanks for the idea. i've been thinking of this for a long while, recycling aluminum cans into jewelry, but the "cutting edge" of the pieces themselves is why i looked up "resin" and happened upon your sight. I hope that makes sense. It sounds like a pain, and almost a deterrent but i'm thinking of other ways to work with it or make it happen so it won't involve the use of some chemical. But the resin jewelry is beautiful too.

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      masmasika 7 years ago

      Wow, this is great sptephanie considering that they come from recycled materials. I myself is fond of arts and crafts. Perhaps it's not yet too late to redefine my interest and create something like this one of yours. I love paper crafts.

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      Katherine 7 years ago

      A great idea!

    • StephanieP profile image

      StephanieP 8 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Dear Katie,

      Thanks for the comment. I work in centimeters not meters so the set of challenges involved is very different. Honestly, I wouldn't have a clue though I do understand that working with large amounts of resin is tricky because of the exothermic reaction generates a lot heat in big quantities. That's all I know, good luck to you.

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      Katiebell 8 years ago

      Hi Stephanie,

      I am an artrist working in Melbourne Australia. Thanks for the information on your process and creation. I had a dream the other night about a large resin piece I wish to make but wondered about resins limitatios (this was a very large piece - really a meters long panel). How possible is it to work large in this material do you think? If you don't mind me asking.

      Gotta bring those dreams home to ground don't we?

      Beautiful work1 Thank you



    • StephanieP profile image

      StephanieP 8 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Dear Teri,

      Thanks for noticing my work.  These little babies are pretty but they are a PAIN to make so I have a love/hate relationship with them.  I checked out your work too--very lovely.  One of these days, I'll get back into beading again, my first attempt at jewelry design.   Best of luck to you!  

    • TeriB profile image

      TeriB 8 years ago from Jeffersonville Indiana

      I am always admirable when someone describes how they came up with a totally new idea or concept in their creations! I've seen others mention cutting designs from drinks and using them for pendants (think about the pretty design on some of the Green Tea cans) but these small strips, embedded in resin, are truly lovely------and aluminum colors can be very bright and "bling-y". Great job. I love your work. Teri