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‘Precious Debris’ by Romy Mittelman


The roads and footpaths of Melbourne are littered with discarded objects and scattered bottle caps. The detritus of the city, the ‘precious debris’ of these footpaths, forms the inspiration for Romy Mittelman’s latest series.

“I literally pick things up off the ground. I love knowing that each discarded object carries with it a unique past and a story,” says Romy, “The film canister necklace previously held someone’s real photos, documents of their life. I like to honour and capture that history in a meaningful and unexpected way.”

Romy manipulates precious metals by hand and uses fine wax wires to create organic jewellery forms: rings, necklaces, earrings, brooches and sculptural objects. These forms incorporate found objects such as bottle caps, beer cans, film canisters and computer chips, making permanent what was once ephemeral. By appropriating found objects and employing them in place of precious materials, Romy’s pieces challenge traditional notions of what ‘precious’ means in contemporary jewellery.

Her work draws upon ancient production techniques, channeling the aesthetics and sensibilities of handmade tribal jewellery. Along with techniques like hand fabrication, soldering, painting and oxidization, home-made tools are used in creating the work. A self-made punch marks the metal, replicating the look and texture of a bottle cap and blurring the line between what is made and what is found.

“Unlike the factories and machines that mass-produce the objects that I find to use in my work, I am passionate about handmade and traditional jewellery making techniques,” Romy says.