Twin Cities junkers apply can-do, creativity to others' castoffs

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 9, 2014 - 10:29 AM
hide

Brenda Weber looks through her collection of old jewelry and trinkets, raw material for her creations.

Photo: Photos by AMANDA SNYDER • Special to the Star Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Brenda and Tom Weber

Who they are: She creates jewelry using old keys, watch parts, buttons and scrap metal, as well as home and garden furnishings and accessories. He turns old flatware into garden art, and combines old baseballs and wooden bats to craft American-flag-inspired wall art. They sell their works via their Etsy site, www.autumnplacearts.com, and at local antique stores and occasional sales.

Latest creation: A vintage bust that Brenda decorated with seashells and pearls and turned into a lamp.

Inspirations: Brenda started making jewelry from old typewriter keys after admiring similar pieces at the Uptown Art Fair. “They were very expensive, so my daughter and I made bracelets together, then I started making them to sell.” But now that vintage typewriters have been discovered by interior designers as accent pieces, sources of old keys are harder to find and more expensive. “I used to do custom [jewelry],” she said. “But I ran out of vowels.” Tom began making ball-and-bat flags after seeing a similar design on a T-shirt at their son’s baseball game. “I thought, ‘I can make that for real.’ ”

Creative sourcing: Tom was making bud vases out of old knife handles, which left him with a lot of blades. “So I kept them and created a dragonfly,” he said, using the blades to make pairs of wings.

Junk at home: The couple, who live in Burnsville, made their own dining table. The base is the pedestal from an old fountain; they filled the basin with wine corks, then topped it with glass. (The top tier of the fountain was turned into an occasional table in their living room.) “We bought the fountain at an estate sale,” said Tom. “We were going to put it in our yard. But the wheels started turning. They never stop.”

The junking life: Brenda, who has been creating things from junk for almost 15 years, quit her day job as a sales rep about two years ago to focus on junking full time. Tom, who took up junking later, still works as a service tech.

Why they love what they do: “It’s a creative outlet,” said Tom. “It’s fun to make something out of things being thrown away — then see people smile and say, ‘That is so cool!’ ” “The neighbors tease us,” said Brenda. “They golf, and they see us in the garage and say we’re working all the time. But it’s not work for us.”

Annie Schilling and Sara Garcia, Golden Valley

Who they are: Creative and business partners in Scout, a vintage collective shop in Golden Valley, where they also offer DIY classes and workshops. The women collaborate on their creations, including “vegan taxidermy” — animal mounts made from found fabrics and faux horns — and decorative items made from old costume jewelry and practical objects, such as a device-charging and message station crafted from a vintage case and fabrics. “We’re all about functional vintage — we like to take old goods and create new uses,” said Garcia. “We are not into things just looking good — we want to make them useful again.”

Showpiece creation: A mounted faux animal head decorated with more than 300 pieces of costume jewelry, its antlers covered with 100 vintage watchbands. “It was three months of work,” Schilling said.

New life for old goods: One of the duo’s most popular items has been bunting fashioned from damaged quilts. “I seek hand-stitched quilts with a stain or a hole,” Schilling said. “They sell like mad at Junk Bonanza. Suddenly, they’re very cool.”

On the bright side: Schilling and Garcia love working with vintage fabrics (they have a sewing workroom at the back of their shop), which allows them to inject a lot of color into their creations. “We enjoy color — a lot of vintage is gray,” Garcia noted.

The junking life: Schilling and Garcia, who opened Scout in December and also sell their wares online (through an Etsy site, www.sugarscout.com, and Hunter’s Alley, www.huntersalley.com) are both full-time junkers (“full-time plus,” amended Schilling). Garcia, a teacher, took a leave of absence; Schilling formerly worked in sales and marketing. “Now we get to do stuff we love and pay the bills,” Schilling said. “Our husbands are really glad it’s not in the garage anymore,” Garcia said.

Why they love what they do: “Crafting is extremely therapeutic,” said Schilling, pointing to a poster on the wall of their workroom that says “I Make Stuff Because I Get Sad if I Don’t.” “The reward is seeing my vision appreciated. I can look at an old curtain and see a dolphin, make it, then someone comes in and goes ape over it.” Garcia finds it rewarding to give old materials a new chapter. “Those used items were special to somebody. We can take those items and make them special and useful again — not sitting in a box.”

Kim Palmer







 

  • related content

  • Junkers reinterpret 'antiques' for a new generation

    Wednesday April 9, 2014

    DIYers who turn salvage into style statements are reinterpreting “antiques.”

  • Annie Schilling (left) and Sara Garcia hold n “animal” mount and a bridal bouquet of vintage jewelry.

  • JUNK BONANZA

    What: A juried junk-a-thon, featuring more than 160 vendors who turn salvage into furniture, jewelry, accessories and decor. There also will be speakers, workshops and other junk-related exhibits and events.


    Where: Canterbury Park, Shakopee


    When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thu., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fri.-Sat.


    Cost: $9 per day. Early-bird admission ($25) allows entry at 8 a.m. Thu., plus admission throughout the event. Information: www.junkbonanza.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close