Dopamine turns trash into wearable art

Designer Mary Wrong is turning heads in Melbourne, recycling ephemeral paper items into beautiful wearable art pieces for her transformative jewellery label Dopamine.

Origami crane

One of Dopamine’s famous origami crane necklaces

Undergraduate Inspiration

Mary’s design practice developed from her experiences as a university student. She found that the many weeks of note-taking in lectures generated a huge amount of paper rubbish. ‘I started to wonder if there was any way to give those wasted notes a second life,’ she says. ‘I had my a-ha moment one day when I was putting on a necklace. Why not turning those wasted notes into my favourite piece of jewellery?’

Turning Trash into Treasure

Mary started experimenting with paper strengthening techniques, and developed her own special coating to make her work strong, waterproof and durable. She then began creating jewellery using different recycled materials such as old maps and newspapers. ‘Sustainability is the leading issue nowadays, especially in the fashion industry, which is the second dirtiest industry in world,’ Mary explains. ‘The trend of fast fashion is to make people buy as much as possible, as quickly as possible. The Earth suffers in the end. As a fashion lover, I want to do something for the industry. I’m turning recycled paper into beautiful jewellery, and producing it in an ethical way. Putting on my jewellery does more than just complete your look, it also helps the Earth.’

Bespoke Keepsakes

In addition to her main practice, Mary also provides a special custom service that turns treasured paper items into unique jewellery designs. ‘I love making the custom pieces,’ she says. ‘Customers share the stories behind their paper with me, no matter whether they are good or bad, and they treat me like a good friend, or even soul mate. I feel like I’m helping people to keep significant moments alive, which makes me feel like I’m more than a jewellery designer.’

The most common paper materials she receives from customers are boarding passes and movie tickets, reminders of events such as first dates with their partners, honeymoon travels or graduation trips. ‘My paper plane and origami crane jewellery are two of the most popular items at the moment. People really love the blessing connotations of the origami crane.’

Lucy Folk

Lucy Folk’s hand-crafted jewels

Metropolitan Motivation

Mary explains that each new city she visits influences the kind of work that she creates. ‘Melbourne is an amazing place for artists. The combination of such a mixed cultural background with the wide acceptance for new design makes the art culture here very diverse. You can easily find art everywhere. I’ve gotten heaps of inspiration from this beautiful city.’

Dopamine pieces are available now from Design A Space.

More wearable art in the city:

Corky Saint Clair: showcasing the work of Melbourne label Corky, specialising in sterling silver jewellery and semi-precious stones.

Pieces Of Eight: exclusive and limited selections of contemporary jewellery and small art objects.

Lucy Folk: tongue in cheek wearable food jewellery.

Lord Coconut showroom and gallery specialising in contemporary hard-crafted jewellery just for men.

Pieces of Eight

Tessa Blazey ring from Pieces of Eight