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Trash turns to treasure with the help of an artist's hands

Dec. 26, 2012

The process is called upcycling, the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value.

That's what local artist Jen Hellmann's message says in the Ecotique at the Delafield Arts Center. Hellman crafted pieces of art which were used as the centerpieces during the annual luncheon, using plastic bottles.

The Ecotique is open throughout the month of December and showcases a number of eco-friendly artists. They've made unique gifts, from tire-intertube "leather" bracelets to artful chairs that visitors can purchase to support the local artists.

"Everything here has been upcycled, recycled and created by artists and locals in the community," said Anne Raskopf.

Raskopf, from Oconomowoc, designed vintage cowboy boot purses, recycled painted windows and retro art chairs for the Ecotique. She uses the part of the cowboy boot that doesn't wear out, the throat of the boot, to create handbags. She's an avid rider, too, so receives materials donated by other riders that she knows.

"I love working with vintage materials. Some of the boots that I've seen I think I recognize from the '70s," Raskopf said.

Raskopf joins other local artists Deb Raschella, Janie Peabody, Mary Jo Schuchardt and Julie Garton in the Ecotique.

Raschella, from Dousman, used all-natural materials to create jewelry and vases from gourds. Each gourd comes with a thoughtful card which reminds the buyer that they've been used to "capture good spirits" through the ages.

"They are grown in the garden and she paints them and uses all kinds of beautiful additions," Raskopf said.

Peabody, from Pewaukee, made the winter wear (fingerless gloves and hats) from upcycled natural materials like cashmere and merino wool. She will also arrange custom orders for those who need something special or can't find the right size or length. They've been selling like hotcakes, according to Raskopf.

Schuchardt, from Pewaukee, creates beautiful glass bowls, plates, panels and sculptured glass.

"When we were looking for things that were upcycled we wanted things that were beautiful but also constructed well," Delia Sava, Delafield Arts Center Executive Director said.

Garton, also in the Ecotique, created the handbags from any flat material like vinyl records and board games. Her first handbag creation was a record and cover from "Hotel California" by the Eagles, made from thin wood and painted black, with rivets hammered by hand. Today the "Carry the Look" handbags are crafted from thin PVC plastic and the rivets are set with an aircraft riveting machine. Add that to the list of tools she already uses (sewing machine, table saw, router, sanding machine, drill press, band saw, air powered tools, file, hand tools) and you'll realize that these are not ordinary purses.

"This is our first year doing it and we had such a positive response that we will probably start earlier next year," Raskopf said.

Upcoming classes

The Delafield Arts Center is offering these art classes at the center, 803 Genesee St.

Punchcard Art Studio - 4 to 5:30 p.m., Fridays; instructor Anne Raskopf for ages 7 to 16

Sign up for six sessions and come when you can. This continuous art studio class offers the young artist the opportunity to be flexible with his or her time. Classes will be held every Friday with a few exceptions. Students will work at their own pace. Explore painting, drawing, wire sculpture, paper mache and much more. First session will be exploring nature by painting a landscape. Cost: $120 for 6 sessions or $25 per class; supplies needed vary on project, instructor will give out a list.

Horse Boot Camp - 9 to 11 a.m., Feb. 16 and 23, March 2 and 9; instructor Anne Raskopf for ages 7 to 14

This workshop focuses on the majestic beauty of horses. Explore horses through drawing, painting, printing and more. Learn to draw large, small, quick and slow. Cost: $125. Supplies list: Canvas (stretched or board), sketch pad & pencils, brushes, acrylic paint

For more information on the classes, email anne@delafieldartscenter.org or call (262) 303-4865.

For more information on the Delafield Arts Center, visit www.delafieldartscenter.org/classes/adult-classes/.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

North Shore Bank-Taste of Lake Country: 5 p.m. July 29, 4 p.m. July 30, Pewaukee Beach Front, 120 W. Wisconsin Ave., Pewaukee. Headline Friday night is The Toys and Saturday night The Love Monkeys. Free.

Kids from Wisconsin: 7:30 p.m. July 29, Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc. Celebrating its 48th show season with a talented group of 33 young performers representing 29 different hometowns across Wisconsin, this year’s tour theme is Sing! Free.

Wisconsin State Frog Jump Championship: 1 p.m. July 30-31, Cory Park, Downtown Dousman, Dousman. Visit www.facebook.com/WIStateFrogJump.  

Catelyn Picco: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 31, Mama D’s Coffee, 104 W Main St., Wales. Free.

All weekend happenings 

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