…and when treasure becomes art…
Portlander’s Robyn and Dave Stein have pooled their talents, finding themselves among a community of local artists who will be showcasing their wares this summer at the “Cracked Pots” 15th Annual Art Show this summer. McMenamins at Edgefield is hosting a show of art created from recycled materials, 22-23 July. The Stein’s Glass Garden Flowers will be among the featured pieces on display and for sale.
The story behind the wonderful garden decorations the Steins have been creating is as interesting as the pieces themselves. I asked Robyn where the inspiration came from and she said, “We have always enjoyed garden art and have some interesting pieces sprinkled throughout our garden (gongs, concrete hand, sculpture, bird houses, garden shed). I also enjoy crafts and love finding vintage items at yard and garage sales and thought it would be interesting to use some of my finds in a garden art project. Putting these hobbies together inspired me to embark on this undertaking.”
The Steins are no strangers to the creative arts. Robyn has an extensive background in vintage crafts, boutique cuisine, and culinary instruction. Her husband Dave is a Portland native. Recently retired from a career in industrial products logistics, Dave has quite a bit of experience with his mechanical hobbies – one of them being an avid collector of vintage Motoguzi Motor Cycles. Dave is also a master gardener and his handy with just about any project. His custom designed hand crafted garden shed that stands in the corner of the Stein’s rear garden was featured in the “Oregonian’s” Sunday Magazine.
The Glass Flowers that the Steins create are a result of their collective creative energies. Curious as to how the idea germinated and blossomed, Robyn offered the source of such inspiration, ” I am always looking for new craft ideas. The Glass flowers were not an original idea. We met a woman at the last ‘Crackedpots’ show, who used mostly ceramic and metal pieces in her flowers. We also heard about a woman on the East Coast doing it as well, and thought this would be a fun garden art project Dave and I could do together.”
When talking with Robyn about the sources of materials they use in their art, she explained, “After I got the idea, I knew I would be shopping for plates, bowls, saucers, votives, vases, and other interesting glass and ceramic plates, all at yard, garage, estate sales and second hand stores.”
I was also curious as to the planning that goes into this style of art. Robyn explained further, “At first, I had a vision ahead of time, but found this usually did not work. It is mostly trial and error, mixing and matching, like putting a puzzle together. It is harder than it looks. Sometimes, one plate seemingly appears to compliment another piece nicely, butafter putting them together,they do not fit. Or I would never imagine some pieces together, but after stacking them, they are transformed and repurposed to a beautiful glass flower.
Being glass and fragile in nature, many of the pieces have become damaged or broken over the years, either chipped, cracked or scratched, and are no longer desirable. In some instances, they are thrown away or dumped, ending up in the garbage or ultimately in a landfill. Or they are no longer considered to be in fashion, becoming outdated, and therefore sold at garage or yard sales or donated to second hand stores, in hopes of finding a new home or being repurposed to a second life.”
The pieces that make up the Glass Flowers look pretty straight forward, but then I got to thinking, if it were easy, everyone would be making them. After all, they are very attractive and produce a visual effect of being perpetually in bloom.
Given her husband Dave’s experience with designing and planning larger construction projects, along with his attention to detail devoted to a few of his other hobbies, Dave’s talents are the perfect complement to the Steins’ budding cottage industry of crafting the Glass Flowers. “My husband is handy, knows how to operate power tools and offered to help me put the glass flowers together. At first, he was going to teach me how to do the technical aspects, but then he enjoyed doing it and this became his area of expertise. My role is to gather the glass and assemble the pieces together, a job Dave prefers that I do. Sometimes I ask his opinion on what he thinks of the piece, and he gives me good feedback, but overall, we have clearly defined roles. We would not be doing this without the other… We jokingly call ourselves “Yin and Yang Productions.”
The Stein’s Glass Flowers are still in the germination stage of a budding business venture. Their art work is indeed for sale. The Stein’s Glass Flowers are available for purchase at Garden Fever in NE Portland (3433 NE 24th Avenue) and can also be bought at the “CrackedPots” show this summer. Otherwise, the Steins currently operate their craft business by word of mouth. You can email them direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about GardenFever is available at this link.