One Man's Bottle Top Is Another's Funky Brooch

 Aug 18, 2015

What do you do with an empty drinks can once you’ve drunk its contents or a top from an ice cold beer bottle once you’ve cracked it open? Well, if you’re creative like contemporary jewellery designer Anna Boella, you transform it into little pieces of wearable art.  

Aluminium Range is Anna’s latest jewellery collection and features earrings, brooches, bracelets and necklaces made from cans and bottle tops. Demand for pieces from the new collection is rocketing, with galleries and shops all wanting to stock the playful and eco-friendly range.

We caught up with the fabulous artist in her Sorting Office studio for a quick 60 seconds-style interview…

 

SO: Can you tell us about your latest collection, the inspiration behind it…

AB: I got the inspiration for my new range from what a lot of people call rubbish or litter. When I walk home from my day job I often pick up litter and pop it in the nearest public bin, often wondering why the person that carelessly dropped it couldn't have done the same. A couple of times I found used drinks cans and took them home to put in the recycling bin. I began to notice how interesting the designs on the cans were and thought I'd have a go at up-cycling them into jewellery. The gallery where I work sells Pellegrino drinks in cans at their cafe so I asked them to save some for me and I instantly had a free resource! I soon realised there was a huge diversity of designs and styles of font and pattern and took it from there. I have developed my 'Aluminium Range' after a lot of playing and experimenting with different designs until I was happy that they 'worked'.

SO: How do you approach working with recycled materials…

AB: I have always been interested in recycling and the environment and have been involved in eco projects where I used to live in Sussex. I used to make recycled cork boards with corks that local pubs and restaurants would save for me. I like the idea of making something useful or beautiful out of something that would otherwise end up in landfill. I recently salvaged some electrical wire from a skip (with the owner’s permission, of course) and stripped the casing off to use as beads to colour co-ordinate with a pair of my Orange Pellegrino can earrings. Most of the beads I use come from broken necklaces and bracelets people have given to me; I regularly scour the charity shops for an inexpensive and interesting supply of pre-owned, no-longer-loved, beads. I also incorporate leather off-cuts in some of my pieces. The silver findings, chain and ear wires I use are mostly made from Ecosilver which has been made from melted down scrap silver.

SO: You've been invited to exhibit at a couple of design and jewellery shows recently. Can you fill us in on what they were and how well your collections were received…

AB: I have recently become involved with the Association for Contemporary Jewellery (ACJ) Wessex Branch and have found them to be a very friendly and inclusive group of people. I was invited and encouraged to take part in a couple of group exhibitions at Hilliers Arboretum near Romsey. I launched my new range at their Summer Jewels  in June and was delighted it went down really well with a wide age range of customers, who bought lots of pieces, the feedback was really positive, some customers bought more than one pair of earrings in different colours “to go with different outfits” and loved the fact they were make of recycled materials, were colourful and “fun”.

SO: What’s in the pipeline…

AB: I am currently developing an 'in between' range incorporating more Ecosilver into my designs, with drill holes to represent bubbles. I am making pieces at the moment for Walford Mill in Wimborne, who have given the ACJ a few cabinets to fill and I am taking part in the Salisbury Arts Trail in October. I was approached by Hilliers during the recent exhibition about running a workshop there, as my aluminium pieces can be made without expensive and often hazardous tools and I am looking to run a workshop in the Production House here at The Sorting Office in the New Year.

SO: What’s life like at The Sorting Office

AB: I find The Sorting Office to be a very interesting place to work as it is often buzzing with creativity. The other residents are very supportive and nurturing and always happy to give feedback and advice if I need it - which I often do! It is a stimulating environment, with a great diversity of makers/designers and I really enjoy the time I spend there. It has been an absolute godsend to me as I have a space I can use whenever I want (except when I am at my day job!) and can leave my work half finished without having to clear up and forget what I was doing next time I come in!