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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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