Reuse Inspiration Contest winners show creative craftmanship


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Finding a new, beautiful purpose for salvaged materials is a talent many people possess. The Post-Gazette and Construction Junction discovered that last year when we created the Reuse Inspiration Contest. Nearly 40 people sent in photos of their home renovation projects and three won tickets to the Big Pour, a beer festival fundraiser for Construction Junction.

This year, we added a second category, and challenge: create original artwork from the kind of used and surplus building materials sold at Construction Junction, a nonprofit retailer in Point Breeze. Fifty entries came in by email and six winners were selected -- three in each category -- to attend today's Big Pour. Here are their winning entries. Some of the art pieces may be displayed today at the Post-Gazette booth at Construction Junction:

Renovation

Todd Meyer, Swissvale

Working completely from her Kickstarter fund, Kate Romane, chef and owner of E² restaurant in Highland Park, sought a creative make-over to her plain banquet room. Mr. Meyer, an architect, general contractor and the building's owner, worked with design assistance from architect Jeffrey Deninno to create a rustic and vintage experience. The renovation involved installation of a handsome antique back bar found at Construction Junction. Reclaimed 1870s pine floor boards were reversed and used on walls and the bar front. Boards were also used on the ceiling to create a 32-foot long undulating feature lit by 32 repurposed antique canning jars.

Additional 1890s cabinetry found at Construction Junction added to the bar and 1980s cabinetry from the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Edgewood became the coffee bar. An 1890s schoolhouse window serves a dual purpose as a partition for storage as well as a decorative element that allows light to shine through.

Jeff and Jeannie Smith, Economy

The Smiths are a team -- She comes up with the crazy ideas, and he figures out how to make them work. They decided to remodel their small powder room as inexpensively as possible. She wanted to use an old sewing machine that she had had for 30 years as a sink base. But finding a sink small enough to fit was nearly impossible. Home Depot offered to custom-order one for $1,500. Instead, they found the perfect sink at Construction Junction for $35. Its back is stamped: Louisville, Made in United States of America, Standard Sanitary Mfg Co., 1936.

The top and backsplash are from an old damaged buffet drawer front that was refinished. Mr. Smith routed a groove into the back to add the little shelf. They originally planned to have a wider shelf, but it impeded the use of the faucet handles. The decorative white pillars were made from a stair spindle cut in half. The soap dispenser was made from old Mason jars.

"We love our room, and we love the less than $150 pricetag," Ms. Smith wrote.

Stephen Palmer, Shelocta, Indiana County.

Mr. Palmer re-used an old cabinet, exterior trim, wainscotting and side lights from a front door to make an entertainment center for his parents.

"I just sanded down found pieces with no additional painting done. I wanted to let the paint layers work together in the piece," he wrote.

He painted his parents' names in script above the lower door panels and painted his name and those of his brothers and sisters inside the door panels. The project took about one week to finish.

Artwork

Kathryn Scimone Stanko, Monroeville

Ms. Stanko, a member of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, brings students each year to Construction Junction for an assemblage workshop. She created a necklace and earrings from cabinet hinges and wire from CJ's hardware section. She added glass beads created by Pittsburgh glass artist Michael Mangiafico.

Wayne Treichel Jr., Swissvale

Mr. Treichel made a Tiffany-style lampshade from pieces of broken glass he finds by the Monongahela River. The base was constructed from found wood, copper and wire.

Kelsey McKissock, Turtle Creek

Ms. McKissock sent two similiar entries. Because the judges couldn't decide between them, she won for both. Both pieces begin with salvaged lumber. One horizontal artwork includes cedar and pine that she split, painted and attached to canvas. It measures 22 by 28 inches.

The other artwork is much more vertical, standing 6 feet 6 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It combines salvaged cedar, an oak pedestal and a piece of iron pipe. Once again, she split the wood, painted the pieces and attached them to canvas.

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Kevin Kirkland: kkirkland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1978.


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