Zendik artists find beauty in trash
In a disposable world, where the shelf-life of most items is usually around a month, artisans at Zendik Farm have found a way to take your trash and turn it into beautiful and colorful jewelry.
Kaila and Vie, along with several other artists on the farm, have been making paper bead jewelry for three years.
ﾓI had seen something on National Geographicﾒs website of someone wearing a necklace that looked like paper beads and I got curious, so I looked it up and found the technique,ﾔ Kaila said. ﾓIt came up Christmastime and I didnﾒt have any presents and I co-opted a friend to experiment with me with the beads. We made the prototypes and the people that got them as presents loved them.ﾔ
With such a positive reception to the upcycled jewelry, Kaila said the artists decided to try to sell the jewelry in stores. Three years later, the jewelry can be found in 550 stores throughout the country.
Kaila attributes the popularity of the jewelry to people being more aware of eco-friendly items and being more cautious about their impact on the planet.
ﾓPeople are more and more interested in recycling and in ﾓgreenﾔ because they realize the impact we have on the world,ﾔ she said. ﾓI think it has gotten through to people that things need to be different.ﾔ
People are intrigued by items that are made out of an unexpected material, Vie added.
ﾓI think people get excited just about the idea that you can take stuff that you have and turn it into something beautiful or usable, it opens up huge possibilities for people,ﾔ she said.
To Kaila, the beads are more than a strip of paper that is rolled up into a bead. Itﾒs a symbol of all the people who worked to create the magazine.
ﾓIf you think of the energy that goes into making a magazine,ﾔ she said. ﾓYou have all the advertising people, the conceiving of the ideas of stories, you have the people who went out and did the stories, you have the people who took the photos and, you think of it as a $5, $10 magazine that you pick up, but think about all that creativity that went into making that magazine and then it goes into a landfill.
ﾓThereﾒs so much beauty in there, the creativity of making these luscious photographs that draw peopleﾒs attention is a lot and so that actually, to me, is part of the magic of recycling,ﾔ she continued. ﾓAll that energy goes into that little bead and even if you are just seeing a patterned, strange colored little bead, when you think of all that is behind it, it feels a lot better to use it than to throw it away and having all that energy going to waste.ﾔ
Several West Virginia stores, including the West Virginia Marketplace at Snowshoe and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory gift shop in Green Bank, carry the unique necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Along with supporting eco-friendly products, both Kaila and Vie said they think people like to support local artisans.
ﾓThe fact that itﾒs American made and eco ﾖ there is a lot of recycled paper bead jewelry out there, a lot of African women co-ops which are a great cause ﾖ but thereﾒs also a real interest in supporting American artists and American made art, so I think we get a special response from those people.ﾔ
ﾓWe get a huge response from people of West Virginia,ﾔ Vie added. ﾓPeople are so supportive of handmade crafts. They have a real understanding of the labor and work that goes into it. Thereﾒs a real respect for it and support of it here which is really nice.ﾔ
People have also responded by supplying plenty of materials to the artists.
ﾓWeﾒve had drive-by drop-offs of magazines,ﾔ Kaila said with a laugh. ﾓWeﾒve had men come by and leave their hunting magazine. Weﾒve had prom magazines, the library has given us magazines. People have brought us their whole collections of National Geographic.ﾔ
With the outstanding support of the community, Kaila and Vie want to give back.
ﾓEventually, weﾒd like to do a class on the jewelry,ﾔ Kaila said. ﾓIf anyone is interested, they can contact us and if we have enough interest, we would do a class. Itﾒs so fun and easy to do.ﾔ
Visit www.zendik.org to find contact information for Kaila and the Zendik Farm.