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ReCYCLEd: Iowa cyclist turns bike pieces into bling

Bicycle chain plates and beads make this bracelet. (CJH Jewelry)
Bicycle chain plates and beads make this bracelet. (CJH Jewelry)
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Cycling isn’t just a way for Cara Hamann, 32, of Iowa City, to get outside and exercise. The physical hobby also has turned into a creative one for the postdoctoral scholar at the University of Iowa College of Public Health who is also an injury epidemiologist, studying transportation-related injuries with an emphasis on bicycle and pedestrian crashes in the Prevention Research Center at the University of Iowa.

“I make jewelry just for fun,” she says.

She started tinkering with bike parts in 2010 when she created trophies for The Women of Iowa City Cycling Club’s grass-roots bike race series, Chamois Time, which Hamann codirects.

She turned leftovers from that project into a pair of earrings.

“They turned out great and it was so fun that I kept doing it.”

She started getting requests from others who wanted to purchase her bike-themed jewelry and three years later she has turned her hobby into a small business — CJH Recycled Bicycle Part Jewelry — transforming spare bicycle parts from Geoff’s Bike & Ski in Iowa City into earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Q: If you had only three words to describe what you do what would they be?

A: Think, create and analyze.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration?

A: All over. Sometimes from other jewelry I see, but mostly from shapes and forms — like the way a vine is wrapped around something or the way a fence crisscrosses.

Q: What’s the best part about being a crafty/creative person?

A: That’s a tough question. I think it gives me a different perspective on things that can contribute to unique ways to solve problems within all layers of life.

Q: Do you remember the first craft project you ever tried?

A: Honestly, no. I just know that I’ve been “crafty” my entire life. One of the first things that comes to mind, although I’m pretty sure this wasn’t actually my first project, was making Chinese lanterns out of construction paper when I was a kid.

Q: When you become rich and famous for your work, then what will you do?

A: Ha, good one. I do this for fun. The rich part would be nice, but I really don’t ever want to be famous. If I were, honestly, I would keep doing what I do because I love it. I’d probably throw in some good deeds and traveling, though.

Like Hamann’s work?

  •  Ogle it: Geoff’s Bike and Ski, 916 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City
  • Google it: Etsy.com/shop/cjhjewelry; cjhjewelry.com; Facebook.com/page/CJH-Recycled-Bicycle-Part-Jewelry/187010224659031

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