8:00 PM April 11, 2022
There aren’t many people who would be happy to find other people’s rubbish in their letterbox.
But it’s a regular occurrence for Norfolk maker Deborah Allan of re.creart.
Keen to re-use and re-purpose as much as she can, she turns crown beer bottle tops and vintage tins into gorgeous jewellery and homewares.
And her kindly neighbours are keen to help out.
“Sometimes I’ll come home and a whole load of bottle tops will fall out,” she laughs. “Or there will be golden syrup tins left in my porch.”
Deborah’s background is in art and design – and she was inspired to start working with upcycled materials during her time spent living in Mexico and Brazil.
“There are really amazing artists and craftspeople, who use a lot of things that are upcycled. For example, in Mexico they use a lot of tin. I was inspired by things that I saw there and that’s when I started making things with bottle tops,” she says.
Deborah worked as an art and design teacher with children with special educational needs at a school in Norwich.
However, when the pandemic hit, she decided to leave teaching and dedicate herself fully to making jewellery and homewares.
Embracing the circular economy, she also sells vintage and salvaged treasures online as The Norfolk Flea.
Deborah lives at Corpusty, where she has a home studio, and she finds inspiration in the north Norfolk landscape.
“I look for shapes in nature to base my designs on,” she says. “Recently I was looking at teasels and taking inspiration from them.”
As well as getting bottle tops from her neighbours, her local pub in Corpusty, The Pigs at Edgefield and a café at Cromer, also collect them for her.
She will also incorporate and re-purpose other items such as fabric scraps into her wearable works of art – and she’s recently been experimenting with using old clock faces.
In addition to her jewellery designs, Deborah has just started collaborating with her partner, Dalmirio Cardoso, known as Dan, to make key holders.
“We’ve got some reclaimed oak and we’re using that and bottle tops to make them. I also make coat hangers as well. I’d like to incorporate reclaimed timber a bit more in the future,” says Deborah.
“Dan wears quite a few different hats,” she continues. “One of the things that he does is quite a lot of antique restoration. He also does bish bash bosh painting and decorating and carpentry bits as well. We collaborate quite often.”
Deborah says that The Norfolk Flea was a natural extension of her long-time love of thrifting, finding quirky, one-off pieces and giving them a new home and lease of life.
“I always used to go to jumble sales when I was younger,” she says. “I wouldn’t buy new clothes, even then.
“We just did it because it was cheap and it was funky, but I’ve never, ever bought new stuff, I was always into second-hand and re-using things.
“We try and do what we can and live as sustainably as possible.”
Deborah’s jewellery and homewares are available at Norfolk stockists including Koti Store in Reepham, No 26 Market Place in North Walsham, Gallery 10 at Alby Crafts, The Jade Tree and The Post Room in Norwich and Salthouse Store. She also has a store on Etsy. See recreart.org or follow on Instagram @re.creart.
To see Deborah’s latest vintage and salvaged treasures, follow @thenorfolkflea on Instagram.
And to see Dan’s restoration work and makes on Instagram, visit @dcardorestoration.