One of my last adventures in Orlando was with a friend at the Local Varkers Market at Aardvark Beverages. This mini market was such a gem and I’m so glad I experienced it before I left.
One booth immediately caught my eye. The tables were covered with what looked like silver beaded door curtains. Then we got closer to find gorgeous pendants covered in unusual artwork. The stones were all sorts of watercolor-esque streams of shades and various shapes and sizes. All of them were wrapped in trees twisted from silver and copper wires. They were beautiful.
On the other side of the curtain of hanging pendants, a woman stood there twisting away at a wire. I noticed the business was called Recycled Beautifully. Recycle gems? I didn’t quite connect. Then she explained that the wires come mostly from old television sets from some sort of landfill or trash. What a beautiful way to take something “useless” and manipulate it into a stunning piece of art.
Buying one became a no-brainer and my curiosity ensued. She described how these stones are often hung around the neck or a rear-view mirror. They absorb sunlight and are meant to transfer that energy into the person wearing it, particularly into the heart chakra. As someone who is fascinated with the idea of chakras, I was collecting more reasons to love this family’s creative entity.
After the fact, I contacted her hoping to find out what inspired such a unique idea. This creative art form obviously came from the heart so I knew there’d be something there. This was her response:
“My husband and I started making them 7 years ago. At the time we were young parents of three children and we were essentially homeless. We had been staying at a small rundown weekly-pay hotel on Orange Blossom Trail. For two years we lived there. Struggling to come up with the $240 weekly rent, we could never save enough to move out into a better place. We drove around nightly in our pickup truck picking up scrap metal so we could cash it in at the scrap yard the following day in order to have money to feed our children.
“One evening my husband was offered some copper from a construction site. Within the ball of copper was a twisted scorpion. We figured a worker had probably made it during a lunch break or something. It was beautiful! We never sold another piece of copper after that day. We watched every type of wire wrapping video we could find on YouTube. We eventually started selling our creation at a Sanford flea market on weekends and then after about a year I opened my first Etsy shop. It took a few years to really pick up and for our wire wrapping to turn into what it has become today. We love that our children got to see that hard work and using our hands to create something could take us from the bottom to where we are today.”
In desperate times, how can we learn to ask our creativity to help us instead of stoic practicality? There’s a distinct difference between letting our artistic selves take the lead by flying to the clouds versus making creative resources work to one's advantage. Logic would say that twisting wires as art couldn’t bring a family out of a financial rut. Yet here is an example of creativity illuminating a better opportunity for them. I don’t know about you, but I was inspired.
As for Recycled Beautifully’s future… “We are now in another life change. Our online shop has been successful for a few years but all of our children are leaving home and venturing to college and starting their own journeys. We wish to pull from online sales and do markets and shows all across the East Coast. For now, we will stick to across Florida but the future is bright and I can’t wait to meet new people every day and see the smiles on their faces when they come into contact with our pendants. It makes all the endless hours twisting wire with sore fingers well worth it.”
"Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous." - Bill Moyers, journalist/politician
Follow their store and keep an eye out for them at markets!
Instagram: Recycled Beautifully (@recycled_beautifully)
Local Varkers Market is every Tuesday from 5pm-9pm at Aardvark Beverages.
Twist and shout!
Join my mailing list to read new posts!
Cover Photo by Abigail Cline