Eco-chic

Good - - NEWS - Words Lindy Davis

It takes a vivid imag­i­na­tion to vi­su­alise a pair of red Tesla fender ear­rings or a ca­nary-yel­low Fer­rari cuff, but CRASH jew­ellery is all about con­vert­ing re­cy­cled me­tals into stun­ning pieces of art­work. Up­cy­cling trash into trea­sure has its chal­lenges, es­pe­cially when it in­volves cre­at­ing a range of stylish eco-chic jew­ellery us­ing dis­used car parts. Cal­i­for­nia-based jew­eller Christi Schimpke is a met­al­smith and for the past decade has been de­sign­ing tra­di­tional pieces us­ing sil­ver and gem­stones. The CRASH con­cept was in­spired af­ter mov­ing her stu­dio into a shared space with her hus­band’s body shop garage in Los An­ge­les, where she ad­mired some of the beau­ti­ful ve­hi­cles that were brought in for re­pair. Fabri­cat­ing dis­used metal to make jew­ellery seemed like an ob­vi­ous idea to Schimpke, who ap­pre­ci­ated the po­ten­tial for us­ing cre­ative ma­te­ri­als in her de­signs. She be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with cut­ting, bend­ing and sand­ing the scrap metal.

“The paint work is orig­i­nal fac­tory and looks just like enamel. I love tak­ing a rav­aged sec­tion of the car like the fender, the hood or the door, and trans­form­ing it into some­thing beau­ti­ful.”

Her pas­sion for craft­ing me­tals and a nat­u­ral love of skil­ful de­sign turned out to be a win­ning com­bi­na­tion and she now works with Mercedes-Benz, Fer­rari and Tesla re­pair shops.

“My hus­band finds it com­i­cal that I nosey around his work­shop look­ing at cars he hasn’t be­gun work­ing on yet, in case I find some metal that might in­ter­est me.”

Schimpke par­tic­u­larly en­joys com­bin­ing sil­ver­smith el­e­ments, gem­stones and cabo­chons with car metal. One of her most pop­u­lar de­signs is made us­ing ster­ling sil­ver con­nected with riv­ets to stain­less steel from the wheel cover of a Mercedes G 550, and then at­tach­ing that to a welded

alu­minium or steel cu . Hand­made de­signs are then en­graved through the car enamel to re­veal the orig­i­nal sil­ver metal un­der­neath. The de­signs are all en­graved on the in­side or back with the car type and man­u­fac­tur­ing date.

“Prove­nance is very im­por­tant to me and I keep track of ev­ery piece of metal I have. I know ex­actly how it will be­have when its welded, punched or pol­ished.”

The show­room is based in West Los An­ge­les and a num­ber of pieces from the CRASH range were re­cently ex­hib­ited in the Palm Springs Art Mu­seum.

She of­ten gets com­mis­sions from cus­tomers who want a re­minder from their cars af­ter they’ve been in an ac­ci­dent.

“I had a young client ask me if I could make some­thing for his mother, from his fa­ther’s prized Mi­ata con­vert­ible. His fa­ther had passed away and he liked the idea of im­mor­tal­is­ing his mem­ory in a spe­cial piece of jew­ellery. I felt hon­oured to be part of the process.”

In a mar­ket swamped with masspro­duced pieces, it’s re­fresh­ing to find a de­signer with the vi­sion and pa­tience to cre­ate some­thing stun­ning from pieces of dis­carded metal.

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