One of my favorite adages has always been “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Perhaps it stems from my early obsession with re-purposing, crafting dollhouses from cardboard boxes and paper dolls from old catalogs. (Let it be said that my imagination far outweighed my talent, as I recall my dollhouse looking incredibly shack-like and paper dolls with missing limbs. Clearly, another favorite motto is “A for effort.“) Still now, as an adult, the phrase speaks to me in many more ways than the literal sense. One person’s impulse purchase is a lifelong investment for another. A split-second decision can also be a life-altering change. A castaway belief is someone else’s cornerstone.
London-based jewelry designer Hollie Paxton explores these themes in her collection Rubbish Jewelry, which seeks to discover the relationship between our identity and our objects. “The collection inverts the idea of what can be precious, as the objects I have chosen to recreate, once used, are disposable and almost worthless,” she writes. “Through recreating them in precious materials, using labour intensive processes such as enamelling, it interests me as to how our relationship with the object changes, possibly for some, to the point where one would consider wearing ‘rubbish.'”
Trash to treasure indeed. Her collection is oddly beautiful, full of statement pieces begging to be discussed and gifted and remembered. But perhaps what is begging to be remembered even moreso is the meaning behind each: that we are different. Beautifully different. The memories and experiences we have at our disposal are the inner-most desires and quests for so many others. And today, I’m feeling grateful for this.
Last night, I cleaned out our refrigerator, discarding old produce and expired dairy products. And I couldn’t help but feel disgusted (and that was before I came across the moldy goat cheese in the corner of the bottom drawer). We have so, so much. I not only have enough food to eat each day, but I have the means to store the excess for weeks at a time. I have access to fresh, healthy, non-toxic foods and the funds to purchase it. I have [ample] clothing and shelter and a loving family – and gracious, the technological capabilities of connecting with nearly anyone or anything else beyond my four walls.
Hollie’s collection intends to comment on this, what she calls the “throwaway culture that’s prevalent in Western society.” And it feels so preachy to say this out loud, to write it and publish it and send it out into the world when hearts are breaking and worlds are fighting and children are starving. And yes, we’ve heard it a million times before – the world can be dark. There are accidents and mistakes and bad decisions with good intentions or good decisions with bad. And I know that. And I don’t know how to fix it.
But I do believe in the good. I believe in the treasure, scattered amidst piles of trash and sadness and aggression. And perhaps that’s where it starts. Perhaps by being grateful for our treasures, we are better able to transform our trash. By acknowledging and thinking and pausing, we can accept our circumstances – good and bad – and create something beautifully authentic from each. It’s what Hollie is doing. It’s what the strong and the vulnerable and the honest do daily. And it’s what I’m attempting to do right this very moment.
Image Credit: Hollie Paxton