Guest post: Trashy Crafter (Recycled Book Beads) | the ReFab Diaries

Very excited to host The Trashy Crafter today! I'll let her introduce herself ... enjoy  :)  

Books are magical, they give you the ability to go on a jungle safari one minute and a deep see dive with mermaids the next. But what happens when books has gotten lots of love from years of use? The pages get creased, dog-eared and ripped, the bend or even start to fall off. That’s where my Mom Helen and I come in. And this is where the story of Trashy Crafter begins.

My name's Kim, and I have pretty much been a crafter since I was old enough to hold scissors and not eat the Elmer’s glue. As a little girl I would come home from school and, as long as my homework was done, I could create crafts all afternoon at my Grandmas house until my Mom and Dad came to pick my sister and I up after work. My Grandma made beautiful crafts and sold at lots of holiday craft shows, crafting ran in my blood and it was bound to become a part of my life some way or another. 

One day while I was in my senior year of college and my Mom and I went to the local thrift store. While there we noticed auction bins out front of the store full of damaged and outdated books. We found out that when books were too damaged or outdated to sell, they were auctioned off. Anything left after that was just thrown away.  

Needless to say, my Mom and I were heartbroken that all those beautifully illustrated children’s books were just thrown away. So we grabbed about 25 books each in our arms and took them home. I was really busy with school at the time, so the books sat in the corner of my room for about 3 months. I was trying to think of a useful thing to turn the books into when it hit me! I was very lucky to have a crafty 3rd grade teacher named Mrs. Bryant who taught us how to roll magazines pages into paper beads (I’m sure many of you have done this in girl scouts or grade school). I made my first few beads and knew from then I was hooked. The most magical part about it to me is that you not only create colorful, unique beads made from something that was going to be thrown into a landfill, but you know what book or item it was made from! 

Everyone has stories and connects with the pieces so well. The reason we continue to create recycled book beads, map beads and sheet music beads is that when people purchase a set at a local craft show or online they have a story behind what they wear…. Perhaps they went on a road trip across the country, and that map bead bracelet they wear reminds them of the fun they had, or they had a band teacher that taught them to play an instrument, so they give them a sheet music bracelet as a token of appreciation… or even a gift for a mom or teacher that read you a book as a child that connected with you and stayed in your memory to this day. As humans we all connect universally with stories, and it’s too beautiful of a thing to throw away. So my Mom and I plan on fighting the good fight and continuing to turn old books into beautiful, wearable works of art.

Our Process:

My Mom Helen and I gather the books from a lot of different places, sometimes we find them in cardboard boxes outside of libraries, in thrift stores on the clearance shelf or in the bins, and even get books, maps or sheet music donated from folks that love and support our mission. To make the beads, we measure and hand cut the book pages into long narrow triangle strips and roll them one at a time onto lollipop sticks. Then we coat each bead 3-5 times depending on the thickness of the paper. Once that is done, we spray them with a matte finish and then we start to turn them into the finished jewelry. We purchase damaged necklaces and bracelets from the local thrift store and strip them apart to repurpose the beads. We create our jewelry with a mixture of our book-page beads along with the repurposed beads. The final step: we hand cut recycled cardboard bracelet holders and place the book labeling on to each set so folks know what book their bracelets were made from.

Thank you Kim! All their amazing jewelry is available to purchase through Trashy Crafter and Etsy
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