I was an exhibiton artist at the time, making shadow boxes and instillations using found objects (some of which is illustrated here). Conditioned by my industry that 'art doesn't make money', my immediate instinct was to make jewelry instead, which I knew to be low cost in start up and commercially viable. I also already had supplies; at the time I had covered my art workbench in beads and chain making some pieces for myself, which was essentially just my assemblage art turned into a wearable product. I wondered if perhaps there were people out there who shared my aesthetic but lacked the talent to make it for themselves. I asked around within my online 'tribes' and sure enough there was.
A little further research showed that at the time, there was nothing like what I did - a look that was Dickens street urchin meets barbarian glamour. There was assemblage jewelry made with rhinestones and catholic medals, there were patchwork cuffs, there were tribal designs, but no one was putting them all together. I gathered my ideas, played with my existing supplies and eventually refined and established my wholly unique aesthetic I called 'Victorian Tribal' - a term which is now a recognised sub-genre within the assemblage jewelry field. Excited by this new world, I took the plunge, opening an Etsy shop and starting this blog - Sparrow Salvage was born.
Though I made a little of everything, I became known for my textile wrist cuffs, made entirely by hand from scraps of cloth on felt, embellished with antique buttons, broken bracelet links and all kinds of beads and trim.
There have been a lot of different styles and themes in my work throughout the years as my ideas and experiments evolved in my work. I liked to have a name for each concept phase and described what I did with evocative names like 'Dickens grunge' 'Elizabethan ghost', 'Barbarian hoard', 'dustbowl princess', 'chimney sweep circus' and 'tribal sci-fi'. I put together textures, colours and shapes in a way that I hadn't seen done anywhere else, primarily just through instinct, exploration and combining unlikely aesthetics.
As I went along my path I became more and more strict about the materials I used; they had to be vintage or reclaimed or in some way second hand, they had to be of good quality (no plastic, no glue!) and they had to evoke a 'make do and mend' philosophy - even when it came to the futurist pieces.
Textile Wrist Cuffs
Made from a mixture of vintage, antique and reclaimed textiles,buttons and misc. findings. All sewn by hand, all one-of-a-kind. Some of the fabrics were customed dyed by me using low water methods I developed over months of experimentation. These images show my favourites but they aren't in chronological order.
Doily scrap brooches
Made of vintage and thrift-claimed crochet pieces, torn up and hand-dyed then embellished with antique buttons and backed in felt.
made from vintage, antique and reclaimed elements; my signature effects included patchwork chain, clusters of charms on a focal ring, found text scraps and textile elements referencing my cuffs.
Made in a similar style to my necklaces - though these images aren't chronological, over time I came to develop a more 'scratch-made' process where I used less found objects and more components made from salvaged materials such as cake tins and fencing wire.