Review: The Magpie Project

On Tuesday 8 July, I treated myself to a day out in London Town. I was able to take a lovely walk down Regents Canal before treating myself to a brief visit round the British Museum (check out ourhistoryheritage.wordpress.com for my History posts). But, as wonderful as those things were, they were not my primary reason for visiting the capital. Nope. I was actually there to meet Olivia from a new upcycling initiative, the Magpie Project. And to top it all off, I was able to visit her houseboat! I’m sorry but this may have added to my excitement ever so slightly. (Come on, it was a house literally on the river!!!)

The Magpie Project was born out of need rather than any kind of dream. The need to fund a PhD of all things! Craig, Olivia’s partner and co-founder, needed to extend his PhD and therefore need more funding. Both Olivia and Craig are keen recyclers/upcyclers and he had already been creating belts from old bike tyres for himself. It was a simple step from making them for himself to selling them to their friends.

The belts in their previous life… bike tyres! (with kind permission of the Magpie Project.)

From the belts, Olivia and Craig has drastically expanded their sales range. The website shows lamps, lampstands and glassware but my favourite range has to be their jewellery! If you remember, way back in January I made the resolution to not buy any jewellery unless it was ethical, fairtrade or from a charity shop (see the related article here). So I am practically ecstatic to find Magpie’s range, who not only fulfill my desire for ethical jewellery but also for it to be unique. Olivia was kind enough to give me a pendant necklace of a hummingbird, made out of an old bike inner tube! Absolutely amazing and so pretty. It’s crazy to think it came from an old tyre. Never fear, a shoot will be coming soon featuring it.

Hummingbird pendant (with kind permission of the Magpie Project)

 As I chatted with Olivia, sat in her boat, I came to realise the passion behind the project. With backgrounds in oceanography and working with young people at risk and film, you could argue that Olivia and Craig are not the obvious people to start the Magpie Project. And Olivia would possibly agree with you. But I think that’s what makes them so right for it. The Magpie Project is not about fashion or style or the latest trends. Can you imagine the fashion industry’s reaction if upcycled jewellery appeared on the catwalk? Rather, Olivia and Craig want to emphasise that many of the objects that end up in landfill do not have to. They can have a second life in another form, that doesn’t have to mirror the original purpose. And it’s not just bike tyres that have been receiving new life at the hands of this talented duo. Even the drinks cans they find out walking have become some of the most interesting earrings I have ever seen.

Inner tube and can butterfly earrings (with kind permission of the Magpie Project)

I don’t know about you but I found meeting Olivia amazing. Not only are she and Craig creating something unique in a world where so much is copied (the fashion industry thrives on copycatting) but they are raising awareness of the possibilities of upcycling. So I’ll leave you with Olivia’s comment about anyone who has similar ideas.

“I wouldn’t see anyone doing the same as us as competition. I would just be happy to see less ending up in landfill as rubbish.”

Check out their Ebay and Etsy shops.

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