Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hip Recycled Jewelry from PVD's Hint Studio

One beef I tend to have with accessories made from trash is they often look very much like the trash they're composed of. Little is done to separate the materials from their former form. I get that that's some folks' aesthetic but, in my opinion, it makes it hard for the jewelry to both distinguish itself from other recycled jewelry and have an artisan energy.

Thankfully this isn't a problem with Hint Studio creations. Sonja and Carolina Arentsen, a Providence-based mother-daughter team, reclaim copper electrical wires, fabric scraps, plastic bags and other materials that would otherwise end up in landfills to handcraft quirky, distinctive jewelry that has a voice of its own without screaming "I'm recycled."

Necklace by Hint Studio. (See more on Flickr.)

If the Arentsen's aren't trying to make an in-your-face statement, why are they using 100% recycled materials? Well, when Carolina entered the jewelry design industry after graduating from RISD she encountered two things: unsafe working conditions and sheer waste of resources. Workers, often undocumented, were required to cut and treat jewelry with dangerous chemicals in rooms without proper ventilation. All the jewelry was made with either mysterious mixes of metals or plastic bits purchased for cheap in China. Carolina wondered why not just reuse the plastic we already have rather than fly all the way from America to China to buy plastic made from newly mined petroleum to ship back to the US.

Being confronted with the reality of the role the jewelry industry was playing in global warming was enough for Carolina to want to make a difference. She left the mainstream jewelry industry and teamed up with Sonja, who has a natural sense of style and is good with her hands, to create Hint Studio. Carolina does most of the design and Sonja does most of the craftwork. Together the two women hope to remove the mainstream stigma that recycled materials are "unsanitary" and to help consumers and retail shop buyers explore the value of having something that is unique as opposed to something created in identical multiples for mass market consumption. Carolina also campaigns and talks to local officials in hopes of making reforms in jewelry industry standards for worker safety.

Hint Studio jewelry can be found in Paloma Boutique in Providence, RI and Green Envy Eco-Boutique in Newport, RI. Carolina also creates visual art which can be purchased on Etsy and seen hanging in Providence Optical, Blaze, and Runcible Spoon.

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