Sunday, April 15, 2012

guest post - tony westlund



We’ve all heard the saying “One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.” Especially in the artistic world, it is not uncommon to put things to good use that were otherwise destined for a garbage can. Although recycling, or more adventurous upcycling has found a strong foothold in design over the past few years, as an artist, it has been my goal to not only bring new life to old objects in ways astray from their original purpose, but to prevent wastefulness in the process. With this, I have gained an understanding that people are beginning to take more pride in the objects they bring into their home, where purchases are investments, not just the cheapest option. I have often seen folks begin to pack their belongings for a move, and realize that crumbling particle-board bookshelf probably won’t last another year, let alone go back together once disassembled. Off to buy another.

It is with these combined intentions that I approached my latest design idea.



An acquaintance had seen a few of my furniture pieces at a group art show, and noticed my strong use of repurposed, salvaged material. We talked for a while about “dumpster diving” and “big trash days” before he invited me to come take a look at some scrap pallets that were commonly thrown away at his job. When the day came to meet up, I had to laugh a bit because without knowing this was where he worked, I had been pulling a few of these pallet pieces out of the dumpster for weeks prior! Now you may be wondering what is so special about these pallets, so let me explain. They come from a hardwood flooring company, and it seems the wood they use for the pallets may be rejects from flooring material, or some other by-product of manufacture. At any rate, I have been constantly surprised at the unique grain patterns, colors, texture and overall character of these boards that were headed straight to the landfill. I have come across beautiful pieces of Black Walnut, variations of Mahogany, Cherry, and even a 3 ft. long, 4 inch square piece of Purple-heart Wood, which as the name implies, is naturally purple.
Even the more simple boards are effected with rough bandsaw cuts, which when half sanded smooth, creates a great rustic effect.


So now what to do with this new-found, salvaged resource...

My wife has been a long-time, avid jewelry wearer, and when it comes to earrings, only the dangliest will do! I had made her an earring display before, but over time, it began to succumb to overcrowding. When brainstorming about what to design next, she’s always encouraged me to “make more stuff for jewelry,” because apparently my beautiful, and beautifully adorned wife is not the only woman with the dilemma of jewelry storage. Heeding her advice I went about creating a functional, simple yet striking piece, that would not just hold several pairs of earrings, but could possibly hold a few more items like bangles or necklaces as well.


Having made previous displays from found objects ranging from parts of chairs, to bedsprings and car pulleys, I simplified the notion and created this “Z” shaped stand utilizing the bevy lumber I had just acquired. I noticed that it had a ton of surface area to put several eyelets while allowing the earrings to be staggered without overlapping, creating an easy to see display. It was also an easy option to add a few hooks to either end of the top rail to hang a few necklaces, or just slide a few bangles on it.


So there you have it! I urge you to look around you, utilize things that others disregard, and create with the intent of longevity. In this case, what was once destined for the dumpster, has now gained new life and new purpose as a sturdy, heirloom quality jewelry display.


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find tony and his business novel and proper here:



in oklahoma city at Blue 7 and The Twisted Root Gallery

13 comments:

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks so much for sharing your creativity, Tony! I have my jewelry displayed in a place that most don't.... in my dining area and it always attracts attention when friends come over. The problem is that I have it displayed on cheap, commercially made stands that I purchased a few years back. When I started looking at what others created for jewelry displays, I was fascinated by the creativity that people used to take something that might be trash and make it into something that is a one-of-a-kind. Love it!!
MaryAnn

Izzy said...

They are absolutely amazing. You've peaked my curiosity about flooring store pallets and I might have to go in search of some here. Thanks for stopping by today and sharing those beautiful displays!

Julie Holmes said...

These jewelry displays are beautiful Tony! My business name is Z enamels...put into one word...because Z was my nickname once upon a happy time. So I have a particular love for the letter Z...and to turn it into a jewelry stands = Big Love for me. Thanks for a great post!

Libby Leuchtman said...

I love this idea! I am always looking for new ways to display my work and you have given me a creative kick in the pants.

mairedodd said...

thank you so much tony for sharing your process - both cerebral and physical... i love your work, your ideas so much...

Stacie Florer said...

Wowzers! My father loves to refinish furniture and so I understand the thrill of discovering a beautiful grain pattern that has been hidden...really beautiful work, and I love the fact that you are repurposing materials...thank you for writing about your inspiration!

Kelli said...

Thanks for sharing!!! LOVE the wood. Some of my favorite display pieces are from found wood I've sanded down. !!

Patti Van said...

What an awesome design concept!!!!!! Thanks for sharing!

Barbara said...

These are so beautiful! I had no idea that the rough wood on pallets could be such rare and beautiful wood! Reminds me of some thing I heard that the floors on the insides of shipping containers are often teak....

Barbara said...

Oh, I also meant to mention that my stepfather saves beautiful pieces from his woodpile....and makes them into interesting objects. I have several bracelets that he's made from beautiful pieces he's found while splitting wood!

Barry said...

T-well done - what is not to love about recycling; and making it look classy. Cheers. B

stacilouise said...

I really enjoy recycled practical objects. My brother takes antiques and makes them into wine racks, coat tree's ect.....it takes a very creative mind to see the potential in old wood like you did! REally like the jewelry displays you made.
Thanks for sharing with us.

NovelandProper said...

Thank you all, for your kind words and encouragement! I've enjoyed reading them and looking at the unique, wearable works of art you create. Keep up the good work, please keep me in mind if you need custom displays for trade shows or craft fairs!

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