When Garbage Turns Into Jewellery

From aluminium waste to a feast for the eyes: hobby craftswoman Anke Ellenberg transforms old coffee capsules into pretty pieces.

Vega. “What else?” asks US star George Clooney in an advertisement for a coffee capsule system. With prestige and elegance, a Swiss grocery company is courting its fully automatic coffee machine, in which the coffee is tapped from a small, colourful designer capsule with 19 bar pressure. What remains is a lot of aluminium waste. Physiotherapist and hobby jewellery designer Anke Ellenberg from Wega finds a good basis for becoming creative. She “upcycled” the capsules into colourful pieces of jewellery. Stainless steel, innovative and unique: Every ring, every chain, every bracelet has been lovingly handcrafted.

The innovative jewellery idea

“I got the machine last year for Christmas. I found the capsules very beautiful and immediately thought: “Something can be done with them,” she says with a smile. Because the 35-year-old likes to do handicrafts for her life and also supports the primary school with her handicraft ideas. The mother of two began to collect the capsules until on Mother’s Day she had the right idea: Together with the primary school children she made small pieces of jewellery for the mothers out of the capsules. With success – because numerous inquiries followed from friends, sisters and mothers of the donee who also wanted to own such a unique piece of jewellery.

Coffee by colour

In July Anke Ellenberg even exhibited her capsule jewellery for the first time on an art market. In Frebershausen the art festival “Dorf-Art” takes place every two years: A colourful festival at which hobby artists and craftsmen can exhibit their homemade works in gardens, barns and courtyards. “Afterwards numerous market organizers approached me and invited me to their markets,” remembers the young mother. “At some point the capsule emergency broke out. I don’t drink coffee myself, only my husband. And he had to drink according to colour, not taste. Especially the dark capsules are in great demand”, says the designer and laughs. Now they even support their patients in collecting. “It’s very funny to see them coming into the practice with small buckets and bags full of capsules,” says Ellenberg.

Water is no problem

The hobby craftswoman has already professionalized her passion with love for detail: In one hour she makes ten to 15 pendants, about ten chains and many rings. The longevity of the products made from the pendant capsules is demonstrated by the rose balls the artist has in her garden. “The jewellery is stainless. The rose balls have been standing in the garden for two years in wind and weather and have survived unscathed,” emphasizes the 35-year-old.

She has been wearing her ring for research purposes for eight weeks: Gardening, washing up and other handicrafts. “I even washed the capsules in the washing machine to remove stubborn coffee residues.” Once the capsule has been freed of all powder residues, it becomes a unique jewellery creation: whether earrings, brooches, pendants, bracelets or napkin holders: Anke Ellenberg has many and always new ideas for creating unique aluminium creations from what others throw away.

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How upcycling works

Upcycling (up for “high” or “up” and recycling for “reprocessing”) converts waste products or useless substances into new products. In contrast to downcycling, this form of recycling is more materially valuable. The recycling of existing material reduces the production of new raw materials.

Due to the depletion of natural resources and social change, upcycling is gaining in importance. Cost savings and new marketing opportunities are further advantages. While upcycling is of little importance in the “throwaway society”, it takes place with above-average frequency in poorer societies. In many developing countries, new products are made from old rubber and plastic.

“Art open”: Creative with all senses

Wax paintings and works, fragrant plays of colour and cheerful clay figures: the creative people of the region showed their full potential at the weekend – and thousands of visitors flocked to the studios.

Your studio is a small, green oasis. An idyll between blooming flowers and a rushing water play. On 51 weekends a year Petra Schütz has her garden to herself. There the Kröpelinerin lives out her creativity, transforms lumps of clay into colourful, funny figures. But when the yellow umbrella stands outside the driveway, then there is a lot of hustle and bustle in her otherwise quiet refuge: just like hundreds of other artists all over the country, Petra Schütz opened her home for the “Art Open” campaign on the Whitsun weekend. Throughout the region, thousands of visitors took the opportunity to take a look over the artists’ shoulders.

“For me, art is a balance, a hobby,” says Schütz. And when it opens its garden, it’s not about making money. “No, selling is certainly not the focus of ‘art open’ – it’s the exchange about art. The guests come and look: “We can show our works, make ourselves better known and have a chat with the people. Around 150 visitors came to her alone. And many of them welcomed her with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake in the garden. Art meets cosiness. That’s nice, says Schütz. “For all sides.

In Parkentin the creativity of the creators is really contagious: In an old barn Manuela Werk shows the old craft of candle making. “I want to show people how much work there is in a beautiful candle,” says Werk. And if you ask nice questions – like Leoni (6) and Felix (12) from the southern Harz Mountains – you can even get down to it: The two little ones make their own works out of wax. “This is fun”, says Felix – and Mama Katja promises: “They get a special place at home”.

Heidrun Klimmey is one of the most loyal participants in “Art Open” in the region. The painter and graphic artist has been a part of it for many years. “It makes mood. I get into conversation with a lot of people”. However, Heidrun Klimmey has only opened one day for visitors: “The preparation takes a lot of time, because the garage is being converted into an open-air studio”. Many guests are amazed, some even buy one of the etchings. “But it’s okay to just look. The exchange is important”. Heidrun Klemmey began painting. But graphics have been her preferred means of expression for about three years now. As a passionate sailor, she has a weakness for maritime motifs. “I like to explain the technique, but you don’t have to explain the motifs themselves.

In Nienhagen, Sonja Poschmann proves that art can be experienced with all the senses – and that a scent can always inspire new works. As an Ayurveda and foot reflex zone masseuse, Poschmann works day after day with natural oils. Stimulating smells – which finally led Poschmann to art. She calls her works “scent pictures”. This also includes information about the scent on which the respective acrylic painting is based – including scent samples.

Many visitors inquire precisely about the effects of the oils, some of which brighten the mood, relax others or increase concentration. Machner sniffs at the pictures, but they still owe an answer: “In my pictures I transform scents and their effect into a play of colours”, says Poschmann. It’s that simple.

Your guests are offered something for the eye, nose and palate: The freshly baked lilac and orange biscuits and the lemon water quickly go away. “For me it is only the second time that I have taken part in the action. But before that I was often a guest with other artists,” explains Poschmann. The most important thing about “art open”? “It inspires.