19 May 2023

Life changes put Braidwood couple on upcycling path

| Siobhan O'Brien
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Anthony Hoy hosts a hot glass demonstration in the V & M retail space in the heart of Braidwood NSW

Anthony Hoy hosts a hot glass demonstration in the V & M retail space in the heart of Braidwood NSW. Photo: Supplied.

In a single lifetime, Wendy and Anthony Hoy have lived many.

Wendy is a former book publisher and photographer. Anthony cut his teeth as a long-time rural reporter and editor for publications such as the now defunct Bulletin magazine. A chance encounter in a Southern Highlands newspaper office around 16 years ago changed all that. What started as a meeting of the minds soon morphed into a relationship.

Fast forward to the present and the couple are the creative force behind Braidwood’s Vetro e Metallo – or V & M as it’s known.

Wendy and Anthony now spend their time salvaging recyclable metals and upcycling it into jewellery. But it wasn’t an easy path.

Anthony was working for the Bulletin when it closed.

“It was devastating to see Australia’s longest running magazine cease to exist,” he says. “I knew then that things were changing for journalists and the publishing industry. It was time to upskill.”

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The couple relocated to Byron Bay where Anthony studied filmmaking. To make ends meet he immersed himself in lampwork and kiln glass and sold his beads at the local markets.

However, the Far North Coast wasn’t for the Hoys. They moved to Wollongong – but not for long. The chance discovery of an old cordial factory in Braidwood changed all that.

“We purchased the building, moved into the back and opened a shop at the front. We threw ourselves into our new business model and it grew organically.

“Over the years we’ve salvaged some amazing things such as the copper roof of St Mary Magdalene Church, Rose Bay and a section of the Parliament House roof which was damaged in the hailstorm in 2020. It’s from these metals that we cut and texture a range of earrings, pendants and such,” Anthony says.

Business expanded rapidly and, three years ago, the pair relocated their shop to a light-filled space on Wallace Street. On most Saturday mornings Anthony can be found at the front of the space hosting hot glass demonstrations. Close by is a display of hand formed lampwork Murano glass beads strung with upcycled metal beads and glass bead necklaces made from salvaged Tanqueray bottles.

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Wendy, meanwhile, is now a licensed scrap metal merchant.

“It has generally become known that we trade scrap base metals for jewellery materials,” she says. “The range of copper and brass materials that comes our way is extraordinary. Customers now collaborate with us in the design of wearable art, upcycled from their own scrap materials.”

The range of components now utilised in the jewellery range includes coins, watch parts, Swarovski crystals, spectacle lenses, plumbing pipe, wire, bathroom flashing, the inner machinations of a piano and more.

“It’s amazing where life takes you,” Wendy says. “We never thought we’d end up doing this but sometimes you’ve just got to follow your heart.

“We’ve become committed to finding new salvage materials and in a way it’s quite addictive. Besides all that, it’s good for the planet.”

V & M is at 68B Wallace Street, Braidwood, NSW, and is open seven days from 10 am to 4 pm.

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