With so much stuff in the world, it makes sense to me to reuse and refashion wherever possible.
Artist Delphine has woven this ethos into her work, transforming waste materials such as old paper, unwanted spoons and bottle-tops into covetable items of jewellery.
“In a period of my life where I was very short on money, I found myself surrounded by unwanted things, left for free on the street,” she recalls when asked how it all began. “I enjoyed digging into them, finding unusual things, old things or just useful nice things.”
This was about 10 years ago, when French-born Delphine was a student at the Art&Culture University of Lille in France. “At that time, each area had one special night per week where people were able to put whatever they did not want anymore – books, glasses, picture frames, sofas, tables, clothes, dishes – outside on the pavement,” she says. “During the night things were picked up, so quite a lot of people, including myself and my housemates, used to go for a special walk on those nights to find some treasures! Those nights were very exiting. It was like a Christmas each week. Some of the things we found were still in a very good condition, some were vintage and full of charm, some were partly broken but fixable. At first it was a way to find furniture, and then I found some very nice old papers, old fabrics, bits and bobs and started to collect all sorts of things.”
Delphine began upcycling her found oddments and offering them to friends and family. “I enjoyed the all process so MUCH!” she exclaims. “I love the idea of the history that’s carried in these pieces!”
Before long Delphine had her own thriving salvage arts and creations company, which she named Phipholle using her own old nickname (more recycling!).
Often, it’s the materials themselves that inspire what Delphine transforms them into. “It could be the colour, the texture, the design…” she says. “I don’t do anything to the materials. For the drink can earrings, I just find a design that I like on a drink can, cut it and wrap it around a paper clip. Sounds pretty basic, but if you do it properly and you choose a very nice part of the can’s design, the effect is astonishing. It’s the same for the cutlery jewellery. I find cutlery with beautiful designs, cut the part that I want, such as the handle, and make a pair of earrings with it. The material is just so beautiful by itself – I am just giving it a new purpose.”
Her acts of recycling offer a fresh way of regarding waste.
“People often miss the creative potential of materials,” she says. “Big waste companies know the commercial value of materials. Recycling is not just a green thing to do. It’s also a big business. In my work I just want to reveal the unexpected beauty of materials and show to people that they could have great fun making things themselves and in the same time recycling their waste!”
Her methods are fairly vintage too. “To make my jewellery, I use the technique of the origami making, and I hammer a lot on my anvil, as well as engraving. Most of my techniques don’t have any official name :)”
Delphine now runs regular recycling workshops.
“Making is very therapeutic,” she comments. “It works for myself and I wanted to share that. I thought that some adults might enjoyed making and might like the upcycling theme, and they did. There are many good reasons do to workshops with children too, but two main ones for me are awareness and education. If we teach the young the importance of reusing, recycling and the creative potential of upcycling, they might grow up to be responsible and aware adults who don’t drop their plastic and paper on the street, and who care for environment. And they might prompt their parents to care too!”
She hopes people come away from her workshops feeling positive and excited.
“I hope they gain confidence in themselves,” she says. “It’s already a big thing to come and try something new, but they are often proud of making something themselves and go back home with their creations and new skills.”
For Delphine, freedom is one of the main pleasures of being an artist. “I love being able to choose what I want to do, and which material to work with or not,” she says. “I have no boss! I am very flexible, and I don’t have official working time 🙂 Inspiring people is surely what I like the most.”
Delphine sells her upcycled treasures on art trails and in several shops across Bristol. You can see more of her creations, find out about the workshops she runs and gain upcycling inspiration of your own on her website www.phipholle.co.uk.
“You can also follow me on facebook (facebook/phipholle) and on Instagram (phipholleupcyclingcreations)”
Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.