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Creating an upcycle: Artists let medium shape work

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Recycling is good for the planet, but upcycling — taking used, raw material and finding a new, often better, use for it — is good for the soul. From woodworking to glass fusing, these local artists give new life to items we often toss out as trash. Check out their specialties at Saturday’s seventh annual Deja Vu Fine Art and Fine Craft show.

Lori Erfmeier

Age: 42

City: Columbus

Occupation: Social service representative for Title 1 Pre-K and Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.

Specialty: Fuse glass artist

Erfmeier immediately fell in love with glass fusing when she was introduced to it four years ago by a fellow artist. Since that time, she finds inspiration everywhere to craft earrings, necklaces, and bracelets from donated and found glass bottles. Preferring to work with wine bottles, which offer thin glass that fuses well, Erfmeier said she also works with whiskey, beer and pop bottles. Shunning molds, she free-hand cuts everything. “It’s an outlet for me to do my creativity,” she said. “I could be much more precise, but I choose to do it this way. I feel like I can be more creative.”

Geneva Foster

Age: 62

City: Columbus

Occupation: Job credentials analyst for the IUPUC Admissions Office

Specialty: Woodcrafts and light bulb crafts

Foster made wooden puzzles and ornaments from salvaged wood for more than a decade before incorporating light bulbs into the mix. Inspired by a magazine article about designing ornaments from recycled light bulbs, Foster found another creative outlet. She now uses acrylics to freehand design the likes of nearly any character you can imagine, like the Grinch, penguins and scarecrows on bulbs donated by family and friends. “Truthfully, this is my sanity,” she said of her hobby.

Bill Griffith

Age: 73

City: Columbus

Occupation: Retired pastor and chaplain

Specialty: Woodworking

Griffith doesn’t mind when friends ask for help getting an old tree out of their yard. After all, a little yard work means he has more material for his woodworking.

He said he spends about 20 hours per week turning these scraps into bowls, salt and pepper shakers, goblets and just about anything you can turn on a lathe. He favors cherry for its tight grain and versatility, but said just about any wood will do.

“Wood is a very forgiving medium,” he said. “You can make a mistake with wood, but you can always redeem it and make it into something else.

Kate Phillips

Age: 60

City: Hartsville

Occupation: Retired from Cummins Inc.

Specialty: Fiber artist

Phillips retired in 2003 so she could be free to spin her own yarn and knit. She raises sheep, alpacas and angora goats, who keep her supplied with plenty of fiber to spin into the yarn she uses for her fiber art. Since first picking up knitting needles at the age of 9, Phillips said she’s only recently broken free of the confines of patterns. A firm believer that rules stifle creativity, she said the hats, scarves, gloves and socks are the product of simply letting creativity happen. “I just start knitting,” Phillips said. “And I let the wool tell me what to do with it.”

Lori Henderson

Age: 37

City: Edinburgh



Specialty: Vintage jewelry

Inspired by other artists, Henderson uses pliers, hammers, sandpaper and hole punches to create jewelry using what she’s termed “rustic assemblage.” Whether it’s a piece of driftwood, a rusty bolt or a dented cookie tin, if Henderson is drawn to an item she finds a way to use it. Many of the components she uses are found objects, or items that are given to her from family and friends. And if some of her found treasures don’t have enough rustic personality, she’s not afraid to give them some. “The worse the better,” she said. “If the item hasn’t been around for a while, I like it to look like it has.”

Tom Hadley

Age: 68

City: Columbus

Occupation: Retired teacher

Specialty: Metalwork

Since 1978, Hadley has pursued metalwork as a summertime hobby. When the number of finished pieces started to outgrow the space he had to store them, his wife suggested he start selling his work. Preferring copper and brass, Hadley rescues scrap from Kroots to design Bible verse-inspired, three-dimensional table pieces and wall hangings. Still perfecting his art, Hadley said thin metals pose the greatest challenge. “If I heat it up, and it’s real thin, it vaporizes and is gone,” he says. “You learn from experience.”

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