Crafter Julie Yu loves the library I usually check out twice as many books as I intend to read so its no wonder that reels of 1960s and 70s New York Times microfilm stocked at a community reuse center caught her eye. I knew it was too good a find to pass up, she says.
The Portland, Ore., wife, mom, and working professional had previously experimented with weaving candy-wrapper purses, but she now creates stylish clutches, bags, and bracelets out of her micro finds.
After her initial purchase of 80 black and white reels, Yu, 38, spent nearly four months and 15 reels perfecting her technique.
It pains me to admit this, she says, but I used the New York Times moon-landing edition to attempt one of my first designs.
Today she has it down to a science. After slicing the microfilm which lately includes celluloid issues of Life purchased off eBay into equal-sized strips, she reinforces each section by backing it with white duct tape and weaves them tightly together, folding along the bags openings to avoid any sharp edges.
Purses are crafted entirely through folds, tucks, and double-sided tape theres no stitching involved. Theyre closed with hidden magnets, and some come with microfilm-formed handles.
In a slightly different technique, Yus bangle-style bracelets involve a diagonal weave of leftover scraps of microfilm or colored frames from campy high school health films.
While Yu likes the idea of reusing discarded materials, environmentalism isnt her driving force. The microfilm is cool to me, she says, because it represents history, it captures moments in time.
With as much as a half-reel of microfilm in each handbag, anyone carrying Yus sleek designs will always have something to read. Keep an eye out
for stories on Pop Art and Beatlemania, though
according to Yu, The most interesting pages are
the fashion ads.
— Laura Kiniry
Microfilm jewels: 2nddraft.etsy.com
Photography by Julie Yu