Laura Jenkins was about to throw out a box of books when inspiration struck.
There were a lot of classics in the box, such as Pride and Prejudice, The Secret Garden and a handful of Shakespeare plays. Instead of tossing them, Jenkins now uses them to make jewelry.
The Westdale resident has established a second career for herself through an endeavour called The Unwritten Word. In her home workstation on Roanoke Road, she cuts pages into careful strips and designs necklaces, bracelets, earrings and belt buckles.
“It's been really good,” she said of the business, which she established a year and a half ago. “People either think I have too much time on my hands or they think it's a really interesting idea.”Jenkins works on a new piece. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)
Jenkins works as a public health nurse in Brantford by day. She lives with her partner, Jamie, who works in sales. Jenkins has an artistic background. She attended the Ontario College of Art and Design and also does oil painting, although that proved too time consuming with her schedule.
Working on the jewelry is “a nice creative release at the end of the day,” she said. She often works on them while watching TV, or hunched quietly over her work station curling pages into something wearable.
Her first piece was a necklace she made from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. About two months later, she began selling her pieces online with the name The Unwritten Word. She now does a handful of craft shows from Niagara to Tillsonburg, and hopes to do more next year.
The majority of buyers “are people who want to buy a gift from a book lover,” said Jenkins, who has recently expanded into wood pendants and belt buckles. Most of them are from the United States.
She applies a water-resistant coating to add to the heartiness of the pages, and so they can be worn in the rain.
After a year and a half, Jenkins is still working on the same box of books. She doesn't anticipate having to buy new ones any time soon. One page makes about four pairs of earrings.
Jenkins is a book lover and has heard people wonder aloud how she can tear the pages of a book. But the jewelry is an artistic tribute to novels she hasn't read "in quite a while."
“I'm attached to the stories, but not so much the packages they come in,” she said.