Upcycling has largely been reserved for home-crafters looking to save a few bucks or make a few bucks by taking an old material and reinventing or repurposing it.
At least until now.
Meet Mark Davis. A New York City based jeweler/upcycler extraordinaire. Davis takes vintage bakelite and transforms them into high end luxury accessories with price tags in the tens of thousands. You won’t find his pieces at craft shows or handmade markets. Davis’ work is sold at luxury retailers like Betteridge and Barneys.
Bakelite, invented in 1909, is mankind’s first plastic. First used as an industrial material, it became very popular as a material for jewelry in the 30s and 40s due to its light weight and range of colors. It is very hard and fire resistant.
Davis takes vintage bakelite and shapes them into modern silhouettes then polishes them to restore the material to its former glory and shine. Sometimes, he adds inlays of a different colored bakelite, creating geometric patterns. And to top it off, he painstakingly adds designs to the surface using gemstones set in 18k gold. One bangle could easily contain a hundred tiny sapphires.
Mark Davis’ studio is housed in an old 19th century rope factory in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Every piece that bears his name has passed through his hands … this is one artisan that is taking the handmade movement to new artistic and economic heights!
Peak inside Mark Davis’ studio here.