Kes Harper creates her own crown jewel through gleaning

DESIRABLE REUSE: Kes Harper in Studio Glean, in Wollombi, where she makes her unique upcycled jewellery.
DESIRABLE REUSE: Kes Harper in Studio Glean, in Wollombi, where she makes her unique upcycled jewellery.

KES Harper lives a gleaned life. She collects, re-uses and creates from what is thrown away.

It's a conscious decision.

She lives in Wollombi where there is no rubbish collection, in a house run completely on solar-power, tank water and bottled gas for cooking. With her partner, Declan, she built the house 20 years ago from wooden scrap planks and windows. So it was only a matter of time that her upcycled jewellery business found the name Gleaned.

Harper's signature Gleaned jewellery first appeared in 2010 and was originally made from the colourful olive oil tins that cannot be domestically recycled. Harper was looking to add an environmentally aware range to her already sterling-silver jewellery line. It also had to be affordable to make and to buy.

The tins she uses are made from steel tin plate and can be cut, molded, filed and shaped into delicate earrings, brooches and pendants. Other types of tins are now used, including biscuit, tuna, chocolate and lolly tins that can be folded, joined and collaged. Her tins are sourced from friends, family and cafes.

TIN BEAUTIES: Delicate earrings

TIN BEAUTIES: Delicate earrings

In April this year, Harper opened Studio Gleaned on the main street of Wollombi. The studio acts as both a retail outlet and a place to create. Open Friday, Saturday, Sundays and public holiday Mondays from 10am to 3pm.

Inside you'll find Harper either cutting tin at her work/sales desk or making small sculpture. You'll also find beautifully sculptured hair-pins, propagated succulents and gift tags. Each piece is unique, determined by the history of the material.

HAIR STICKS: Environmentally aware.

HAIR STICKS: Environmentally aware.

She now supplies several regional galleries in Australia with her Gleaned range, including Maitland Regional Art Gallery.

The gallery recently commissioned Harper to create an installation to be suspended over the gallery shop, which will be on show until August 26.

Harper will be at Maitland Regional Art Gallery this Saturday as part of the Meet the Maker series.

This story originally appeared in the Newcastle Herald Weekender. Read the full version here.

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