Melissa Kolbusz's found jewelry hits Europe

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Assemblage necklace by Melissa Kolbusz
  • Assemblage necklace by Melissa Kolbusz
She may not be Dumpster diving anymore, but Melissa Kolbusz still knows her junk. The founder of Wired Resistance “rewires” recycled and surplus industrial materials into couture, wearable pieces of art. The 12-year experiment is taking on international proportions: Through a promoter, Kolbusz was invited to the Berlin Fashion Week this July in Germany as part of the GREENshowroom, and this month Kolbusz will attend Paris Fashion Week, which she sees as the beginning of a long-term goal to delve into the European fashion industry.

It all began in 1999, "by accident,” Kolbusz says, when she was working in a furniture store and noticed odds and ends lying around that she thought could be salvaged. “My whole concept started with using items that were at the end of their intended life cycle,” she said. “Basically, I’m creating something out of nothing.”

Recipients of those gifts encouraged her to get serious about her artwork. Kolbusz began making more jewelry and showed her artwork at an open house in Pilsen a short while later.

Over time, the materials began coming to her more easily. “In the last five or six years I’ve tried to build relationships with companies to try to collect more of same materials so I’m able to make more of each item,” Kolbusz says. Small shows led to bigger shows, bigger shows led to festivals, and soon enough Kolbusz was noticed by Ecochic Geneva, an organization devoted to the promotion of sustainable fashion. But Kolbusz didn’t begin her enterprise with the idea of eco-friendliness in mind. “People were like, 'It’s made out of what?' They really didn’t understand, and now . . . people are more environmentally aware.”

Kolbusz has a degree in industrial design, but never imagined her career taking this direction. “Industrial design is basically just product design for mass production, so I guess what I’m doing is sort of an offshoot of that,” she says.

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