Today we speak to an amazing jeweller, EcoGeek.
What inspired you to create EcoGeek SA?
A while back, I noticed that Wizards of the Coast had started putting ‘additional marketing cards’ in booster packets. They have marketing write-ups on both sides of the card, so you can’t really use them to play like you can with token cards. I’ve used these cards as bookmarks, card dividers and coasters. Although, it always seemed a bit of a waste as the cards themselves have beautiful art on them. After a bit of research, I decided that the easiest thing I could make with what I had at hand, would be earrings.
Well, for a start, I’m definitely not an earring master. I live in awe of jewellery designers. My passion is finding creative ways of turning geeky paper waste into something useful. My current experiment is creating 3D life counters and although it is a lot more difficult, I also find it more rewarding.
What makes your brand unique?
Let’s say you buy a pair of Chandra earrings – not only are you supporting a recycling initiative and a micro-industry, your jewellery has art by Kev Walker. The same Kev Walker who has worked on Judge Dredd, the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Hellblazer.
My personal favourite pair of earrings is made from Ephara’s Radiance which has art by James Ryman. He’s also done some artwork for Hearthstone.
So what’s the history of EcoGeek SA?
EcoGeek SA is a start-up – there’s barely any history to speak of at this stage. Even so, this is a very exciting stage for a business and I’m optimistic that there are many great adventures ahead.
What sort of materials do you use?
When I make earrings, I use water damaged cards, unwanted commons or ‘additional marketing cards’ for the art. I cut out the art that I find interesting, glue it to some leftover cardboard and cover the art with resin to protect it.
Where do you source your materials?
A surprising number of people are enthusiastically donating cards to me – especially the ‘additional marketing cards’. Just on rough estimates of the boosters sold in South Africa last year, we calculated that you could cover half a rugby field with the additional marketing cards.
I wouldn’t say that any of my products are truly unique. The innovation is in making use of paper that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The most interesting project that I’m busy with, from a personal perspective, is a clutch purse that I’m making out of booster wrappers.
Do you use any specialist items or techniques in your work?
Yes. After a lot of practise, I have finally mastered the technique of not getting paint on my face when I’m finishing the edges of a product. For some reason, my nose always itches when I have paint on my fingers. Seriously though, I don’t use any special techniques and this is something anyone could do. In fact, the more people who do this, the less pressure there is on our landfills. The average South African produces 2 tonnes of waste a year that goes straight to a landfill and we’re running out of space. The sooner we get into the habit of producing items from waste and buying upcycled items, the better.
One that makes the wearer proud to be part of a growing number of environmentally aware Geeks.
How long does it take to produce one of your products?
It depends on the item – it can range from an hour to weeks. I don’t mass produce anything.
So what sort of pricing range would the average person be looking at?
I try to make smaller, inexpensive items for under R50 but some of the more complex products may be sold for more. All my products are sold through Plushie Heaven.
Where do you see EcoGeek SA in five years?
I’m hoping that in five years, I’ll have turned this business into a sustainable one that employs at least one person.
Any last words?
Yes! I’m planning a wonderfully ghoulish range of items for Halloween. Who says you can’t be deliciously dark and save the world?