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A local crafter’s bright idea

Ellwanger uses found objects to create new lamps

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Goldie Currie/Shaw News Service)
Roxane Ellwanger of Prophetstown has taken up a new craft, recreating lamps using found objects and other lamps.

PROPHETSTOWN – Roxane Ellwanger has a knack for seeing the beauty in rubbish.

With her talent and flair, she is able to transform others’ trash into works of art suitable for any room in the house.

Her most recent artistry involves pulling apart discarded lamps, reassembling them with parts from other lamps or various found items, and repainting them to create a final masterpiece.

“I think they’re creative and purposeful, and getting to use something that someone else has thrown away and changing it into something someone else wants is fun,” she said.

The idea started with an unusual piece of marble taken from a lamp that her daughter once gave her.

“It was part of a lamp, but she had bought it somewhere and thought, ‘I could make a vase for Mom,’” Ellwanger said. “That piece is where it started, because I ended up fitting it onto another lamp.”

Once Ellwanger figured out she could re-thread new pieces and create a new, unique look, it became a favorite hobby.

Over the years, she has collected miscellaneous odds and ends for her lamps. She finds her treasures from co-workers, secondhand shops, online – even in the alleys of Chicago, where she once lived.

“At my old job, people would say, ‘I don’t want this lamp anymore, do you want it or can you fix it?”’ she said. “I get my stuff wherever I can find it.”

An Ellwanger lamp comes to life starting with a base and a bare rod. From there, she throws on and takes off various pieces until she has a look worth keeping.

“When I decide what I like, I’ll cut (the rod down) and there’s the lamp,” she said.

Once a design comes together, it takes about 2 days to assemble and paint. Along the way, the lamp gets a name based on its appearance and personality.

Ellwanger’s husband, Jim, said each lamp has a different feel.

“I like them, because they all came from her and they all came from different places and have their own personality,” he said. “They all come from her mind, as opposed to the store. She sees things I never would see.”

Ellwanger has 30 to 40 finished lamps that she plans to display this summer at local craft shows. She also plans to display her work on Etsy.com and Facebook.

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