She’s a scavenger. Garage sales, second-hand stores, antique shops, or granny’s box of brooches—local designer Breeze Romain isn’t buying anything new. Her materials are the castoffs; she says, “Instead of buying new products that are made in China, things that are pumped out zillions and zillions by the minute, it’s all discarded jewellery. Things that would have gone to a landfill.”
Ecofinery began in 2005, when the fresh-faced University of Guelph grad had some time on her hands in between restaurant jobs. “I had a lot of jewellery that had just been hanging around forever and I wanted to do something with it.”
Where jeweller meets sculptor, Romain began crafting earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings out of these leftovers. Through her self-taught technique, she creates whimsical layers of vintage trinkets. By intermingling several pieces, each from a different time and place, she brings a feeling of decadence out of the discarded. “I might start with a vintage brooch and create a shape out of it with wire,” she says. “I just sculpt it into the shape I’m envisioning and build off of it.”
The obvious upside is that her pieces are recycled. However, Romain is reluctant to have her work tossed under the eco-chic umbrella. Instead, she keeps it simple: “I just like making beautiful things that people will enjoy.”
As for her eco-philosophy, we just have too much stuff. “It hasn’t been a challenge finding material,” she explains. “There is so much out there, there’s no need to buy new stuff. I really do feel strongly about industrially produced jewellery and factory-made things.”
Although Romain may not know how her scrapped materials were produced, she’s discontinuing the cycle, reclaiming the junk and imagining it in a different form. “That’s what I’m trying to get across, the idea of stopping the cycle of buying new things.”
Look for Ecofinery at the upcoming Spring Speakeasy Arts & Crafts Show, April 7, 7-11pm at the Gladstone (1214 Queen W). If you happen to miss it, you can find Romain’s sculptured accessories at Sweetings (1920 Queen East, 416-686-6031) and Nathalie-Roze & Co. (1015 Queen East, 416-792-1699). Also, keep an eye out for Ecofinery in our upcoming Spring Issue of On The Danforth.