Per Fabrica on Wabi TV
MAINE (WABI)- When you think of Maine lobster, most minds are on the meat.
But a jewelry designer from Italy has her sights set on the shells.
As Joy Hollowell reports, she and the Lobster Institute are teaming up to produce the crustacean creations.
"60% of our lobster is produced into lobster meat. And so, there's a lot of shell."
Dr. Bob Bayer is the executive director of the Lobster Institute through the University of Maine. They group works with the lobster industry from Newfoundland all the way down to Long Island, New York. Their primary goal is sustainability, which is why an email a few years back from a student studying jewelry design in London, peaked Bayer's interest.
"She was essentially replacing coral, which is endangered with lobster shells," explains Bayer. "And she came up with this really stunning method of making her jewelry."
Bayer began shipping the sea life leftovers to Giada Giachino. She then used it to create necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other adornments that look more like gemstones than ground up cooked lobster shells. We spoke with Giachino through a Skype video call, in Italy where she lives and works.
"I had to spend almost two years and 160 tests in figuring out that lobster shells were the answer," she says. "And then I figured out the colors and that was a big breakthrough. What I'm trying to do at the moment and that is the reason why I'm travelling a lot between London, Italy and Europe in general, is to find a way to make a pure lobster material that can be 100% biodegradable."
And, she's setting her sights beyond jewelry, considering the crushed crustaceans for tiles, furniture and even building construction.
"We figured out with the Lobster Institute that there was so much more that could be done."
The Lobster Institute would eventually like to bring Giachino's production line to Maine.
"Here we're paying to take lobster shells to the landfills," says Bayer. "If Giada is successful, this means we'll be buying lobster shells or she will, and hopefully some of this money goes back to fishermen."