Recycled accessories: From hardware to Hard Wear

June 17, 2011 (CHICAGO)

A North Side mom makes what's old new again.

"Initially it will take them a few moments to go, 'Oh, oh.' And then you find out if they know they're hardware. They'll say are they bolts? Are they screws? Are they washers? Or are they nuts? They are nuts," Tracey Dobson said.

They are indeed -- nuts, braided onto a strong, thin fabric called Irish wax linen. Dobson got the idea after picking up scraps from a shuttered company.

"They seemed to have gotten rid of everything that was like a mid-sized that you would see in the building of a house for example and what they were left with was big hunk of nuts as well as these little tiny ones. So I found a hand full of them and thought they were so lovely and what could I do with them?"

The big ones become candleholders that double as coasters. The tiny ones become wearable art: necklaces, bracelets -- even belts. While making jewelry has become a home business for the Australian-born stay-at-home mom, reclaiming and reusing is a way of life. Old leather clothing becomes whimsical key chains. She shops thrift stores to find cashmere sweaters that become ultra-soft throws.

"I think we just need to scale back and be conserving resources and not demanding new. For every dollar that we spend we have a choice in how we spend it," Dobson said.

Hard Wear is sold at several Chicago-area boutiques:

Drinkwater Flowers & Design
819 Lafayette Road
Hampton NH 03842
603 926 4181

5634 N Clark St
Chicago IL 60626

Anna Held Florist
5557 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago IL 60640

Studio b Gallery
114 North Elm Street
Three Oaks, MI 49128

Wolfbait & b-girls
3131 W Logan Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60647

1902 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60613

The Flower Flat
620 W Addison St.
Chicago, IL 60613

Abbey Brown
1162 W Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

5045 N Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60626


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