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Earrings from the pages of National Geographic
Diane Parker is scheduled to sell her products beginning in November at craft shows in several mobile home parks and elsewhere:
Fortuna del Oro - Nov. 5; Araby Acres - Nov 8; Sun Vista – Nov. 10; Country Roads - Nov. 15; Sundance – Nov. 16. For dates, times or other arrangements, her contact number is 1-515-240-2453.
Making pages of National Geographic into earrings has become one Yuma woman's colorful, stylish way to recycle the magazines.
Diane Parker, who admits that she looks at the magazine a little differently, has produced and sold more than 6,000 pairs of earrings made from the pages of National Geographic since she began her hobby about four years ago.
But she doesn't have any worries about running out of magazines for her project, despite the digital media trend. Starting the project with a National Geographic collection of her own, she added to her stockpile when the public library had been unable to sell a 15-year collection of the magazine. She made them an offer, which they accepted. She estimates that she still has about 20 years' worth.
“I can be way into the nursing home and still be making earrings,” she said, laughing.
Her inspiration for the hobby came about when a friend from church showed her how to make paper earrings.
“A lot of ladies over in Africa make necklaces out of paper,” Parker explained. “You can make them from any kind of paper. It just came to me about National Geographic because I liked the paper, I liked the color. The colors are so bright and pretty. The photography is just beautiful, and I just thought I could maybe use them, and it has turned out real well.”
She adds that she likes National Geographic because the paper does not tear.
Using beads and portions of the pages along with what she calls her “secret sauce,” Parker “artistically enhances” the earrings. Although she has some 10 patterns, she is reluctant say how she makes them.
On many of the earrings, she applies various types of glitter. On some she may also apply a bit of paint to ensure that the earrings match each other.
“A lot of people try to pick my brain to find out how I do it, but I am very evasive.”
Living in the small confines of her fifth-wheeler home in the Foothills does not deter her from adding to her inventory. She has at least 3,000 pairs of earrings on hand.
She recalled a conversation with her husband, Edra, about storage spaces for her hobby in their home.
“I said to my husband, ‘If I get any more earrings, the front of our fifth-wheel is going to go BONG.' He said, ‘Boy, I am glad you didn't get into car parts.'”
Parker does not only use the pictures in National Geographic to make just the right earrings to match any color her customers may wear. She sometimes uses just the printed words as well. Occasionally she also uses the magazine's maps, which have resulted in some amusing encounters.
“I made one pair of earrings out of a map for the Congo. I always kind of tease the ladies and say that ‘If you buy these and you take a trip into the Congo and get lost, you can unwrap your earrings because I highlighted the different telephone booths, and you can find your way out.'”
Parker said she is able to market her earrings more easily if she can display a photo of a page from which she has made a pair so that people can see exactly where they came from or see the actual colors from the pages themselves.
“I had done that (displayed a page) with gorillas because it is hard to tell a gorilla earring. It is just kind of brown. But one time, I had done some dinosaurs and right in the center of the earring was its teeth. I sold them.”
About one of her gorilla displays, she added, “I told everybody, ‘Doesn't that remind you of your first husband?'”
She also takes special orders with prepayment.
“I make them special. I'm just better than Walmart. If anybody loses one, even if it's their fault, I'll replace it. I just do it for a hobby. I have a lot of friends, and I want to keep them all.”
Each pair takes about a half-hour to make, and Parker said she can generally use as many as 20 pages in one magazine.
“I don't do a number of crafts. I just do this, and I notice that from year to year to year they get better.”
So how do people react when they realize that Parker's earrings are made from pages of National Geographic?
“They're shocked. The minute they know they are from National Geographic, they have a smile on their face. It's amazing. People love National Geographic. And when they know it's that and that I have recycled National Geographic — even if they haven't thought about buying a pair of earrings — they want one pair. They'll say, ‘Oh, these are so unique.'”
Because of the appearance of her finished products, there have been a few occasions when someone has asked whether the earrings could be used for fishing lures.
“Men have looked at them. It's amazing how men will want to know how they are made. I've also been tempted to use Playboy magazine,” she quipped. “I'm just kidding. I have a lot of fun. If I made them out of an anchovy (picture) or something, I guess it would be a fishing lure.”
In addition to selling her earrings at craft shows and swap meets, Parker has an inventory of patio dresses about which she says she is “very selective.” She matches them to sell with the earrings.
However, the appeal of earrings made from National Geographic has been the main focus of her customers.
“If I would make them out of just whatever, it wouldn't be nearly as special as National Geographic magazine. And I am recycling a beautiful magazine. There will be a time when National Geographic will be gone.”