By Lee Noles
CHARLOTTE – Tucked away in southern Mecklenburg County is the family farm that Danielle Todys lived on and explored for much of her childhood. Pinched between sprawling neighborhoods and bustling highways, the farm seems to stubbornly hold out against the encroaching development that has wiped away much of the area’s pastoral past.
It was on these 32 acres that Todys ran freely near the pond, made daisy chains and collected bugs. The woods now supply her with the inspiration in creating her homemade jewelry and a resolve to help Charlotte keep the leaf canopy that is quickly disappearing.
Todys calls her business Woodland Wraps, which she donates some of the proceeds from sales to Trees Charlotte, a nonprofit whose purpose is to expand the foliage around the Queen City.
“It’s really sad,” Todys said of how urban development is changing the landscape. “People want to escape the city and move to the country, but they can’t do that anymore. But it is great Trees Charlotte is trying to counteract that.”
Although she has always liked creating crafts, Todys, who is a speech pathologist, didn’t start making jewelry until she saw a picture of a pendant online nearly three years ago. Intrigued by the image, she watched more videos to get an idea on how the jewelry was made. She invited her mom, sister and a friend to try and imitate what they saw in the video clip.
“For me, it was easy, immediately,” Todys said. “I wanted to keep doing it, and I did.”
Todys makes two distinct types of jewelry. The first is what she calls framed wrapping, which cuts apart pieces of wiring to wrap around a stone or gem to create a design pattern. The challenge comes at the end when Todys has to make sure there are no loose ends sticking out from the jewelry. Todys said she ties the ends around the stone or gem so pressure is applied to the front and back. The pressure allows the piece to stay in the metallic wrapping.
The other design is what Todys calls a gem on a tree. The style works from the back to the front with Todys wrapping the metal to form what resembles a cage to hold the stone or gem in place.
“The wire tells me what to do and the pattern I need to make,” Todys said.
Most of Todys’ materials come from a gem and bead show that travels through the area.
Her involvement with Trees Charlotte happened after Todys visited her family’s farm and noticed more wild animals were making their home in the woods where she played as a child. Todys knew she had to do something after realizing the animals were there because of their habitat being wiped away.
Trees Charlotte was established in 2012 with the intention of growing the city’s natural canopy while educating the public on planting and preserving trees. The group wants to plant 500,000 trees by 2050.
Todys is using social media to get her message about the importance of conservation out to the community. Her jewelry website features a blog where Todys discusses ways to cut back on plastic and enjoy spring with a garden or opening the windows instead of running the air condition.
“I want to connect with people on a personal level,” Todys says of her blog. “… I want to share ideas and have people share them with me, so we can learn from each other.”
The blogging has been put on hold lately because Todys and her husband, Ben, are expecting their first child in February. The welcomed excitement has her relying more on the internet to get her jewelry to the public. Todys used to attend 40 live shows a year to sell her pieces. Todys realizes she can’t dedicate as much time at so many events when some shows can last up to three days.
Her pregnancy has made Todys more determined to conserve the woodland world she experienced growing up on the outskirts of Charlotte.
“I always felt bad for kids who didn’t have that opportunity,” Todys said of her farm. “And thankful we did. And we want to share that with our child in the future.”
Want to buy?
Go to www.woodlandwraps.com to find Danielle Todys’ jewelry. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Todys also has Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram accounts that show her jewelry. Visit www.treescharlotte.org to learn more about Trees Charlotte.