Getting a Bead on Newspapers

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

When newspapers get recycled, they usually end up as ? well, more newspapers. But Holly Anne Mitchell has made a growing business of recycling newspapers into earrings, bracelets, cufflinks, and necklaces that fetch as much as $2,500 apiece at art fairs and museum shops.

Now she’s taking her NewspaperJewelery.com items into the high-end retail market. Mitchell has come a long way, she notes, from a University of Michigan metalsmithing class when she first turned to newspapers for an assignment to make a piece of jewelry from non-traditional materials. “It was kind of a silly reason I picked newspapers,” she says. “My mother for her job would receive multiple newspapers every day, and I always remembered them piling up.”

It turns out that newspaper is a natural for jewelry, Mitchell says: “The stock listings, for instance, have such interesting patterns. The Sunday comics have such interesting colors, and I like to contrast them with the black-and-white daily comics.” At her St. Petersburg, Fla., studio, Mitchell, who designs all the pieces, employs 10 people who cut newspaper pages into long strips and apply a sealant. The strips are rolled into a long bead, which is cut into uniform pieces and made into jewelry with chains, sterling silver and other traditional materials. Prices range from $49 for a brooch to $349 for the most expensive bracelets, with neckpieces starting at $800.

There’s some bad news for Mitchell’s hometown paper, though: She says she likes reading the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times ? but it doesn’t make good jewelry. “The patterns just aren’t interesting in the St. Pete Times,” she says. Instead, a network of about 20 people around the nation sends in various local newspapers. Some of her favorite jewelry makers: the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle ? and, occasionally, the St. Petersburg Times’ hated rival, The Tampa Tribune.

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