Do you love J.R.R. Tolkien’s books so much that you could just wear them? One local designer has just answered your prayers.
Director Peter Jackson isn’t the only one repurposing J.R.R. Tolkien’s works this holiday season: U of T civil engineering student Lee Hamu has upcycled some of the author’s classic works to create eco-friendly jewelry, household items, and various paper products. Currently constructing Tolkien-themed glass Christmas bulbs (among other projects), the 23-year-old Hamu spoke to The Grid on the eve of The Hobbit‘s Dec. 14 theatrical release about some of the Frodo-friendly items for sale—or soon to be available—at her Etsy store.
Elven necklace, $75 (pictured at top)
Materials used: various turquoise beads and stones, origami leaves from The Fellowship of The Ring, brass chains, and brass filigree leaves.
Hamu strives to reflect Tolkein’s portrait of nature with this double-stranded, bib-like necklace. “In Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, there’s a real focus on the elves and their attachment to leaves in the forest,” says Hamu. “It seemed like a natural choice to choose a leaf origami.”
Hamu doesn’t necessarily expect the necklace to sell for its current $75 price tag, but she’s proud of how this large piece showcases what paper crafting can achieve.
Coaster set (4), $20
Materials used: 4×4 ceramic tiles, varnished pages from The Fellowship of the Ring.
These ceramic tile coasters feature pages scattered from Tolkien novels sourced at Goodwill and second-hand stores. “I try not to have four pages that are back to back; [the coasters feature] scenes throughout the story,” Hamu explains.
Using a couple layers of brush-on wood varnish, Hamu does not recommend these coasters for dishwasher use, but they are spill-proof and can be hand-washed.
Origami leaf pendant and earring pair, $25 for the set
Materials used: ornamental beads, a bronze chain, earring backs, and varnished pages from various books.
Style garments for the typography enthusiast, these accessories are available in a variety of upcycled books including Tolkien’s LOTR series, vintage Webster’s dictionary pages, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Although Hamu’s go-to earring set is made with brass, fishhook-style ear-wires, alternative backings can be requested in brass (no charge), or sterling silver for an additional $5. All earring backs are nickel-free and lead-free.
Hamu has tested the strength of this paper pair by tossing the varnished leaves in with two hot-wash cycles. After the first cycle, the creases were slightly wavier, but the text was unaffected. By the second cycle, the finish had begun to crackle. She doesn’t recommend experimenting with the jewelry like this, but is sure that the accessories would certainly survive a cold walk in the rain. “When you get home, lay them out to dry and they’ll be as good as new.”
Fridge magnets, buttons, keychains, and pendants (prices vary)
Materials used: Cut-outs from The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Return of the King are readily available. Other Tolkien material is available upon request.
These items all feature a 1.25-inch glossy button made with a Tecre button press; colours vary depending on the condition of each book used. (Pinback buttons are $2 each, or three for $5; fridge magnets and keychains are $3 each, or 4 for $10; button necklaces are $5 each.)
Various origami note cards, $4, or 6 for $18
Materials used: 100 per cent recycled, 40 per cent post-consumer craft-card stock, and matching envelope, with various upcycled book origami.
Items currently in stock include an upcycled The Fellowship of the Ring in dragonfly origami, as well as a Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone origami owl, and bat cards. The eco-friendly cards are the only unvarnished item in the bunch.
With all of the above items, Hamu is happy to take requests for customization within reason, keeping in mind that all of the book supplies come from second-hand stores.