Recycled Like New
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Recycled Like New

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Beth Perdue

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Seebe Carver

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Ashley Guertin

Creation isn’t always about starting from scratch — sometimes creative inspiration can come from something already in existence.

Beth Perdue of Cocoa grew up surrounded by antique and vintage items, with parents who preferred a touch of history in home decor. As an adult, she has channeled that throwback inspiration into her business, Archeology Bags. She uses vintage fabrics and materials to create new purses, shoulder bags and other accessories. She sells the items mainly through her Facebook page and promotes them through an Instagram account.

“All of my products have something recycled in or on them. Some have a larger percentage than others, but every single piece has something recycled or repurposed,” Perdue said. “My goal is to produce something unique that you can’t find anywhere else. Something that is specific to the buyer.”

Perdue is especially drawn to materials with a story behind them and ones that are steeped in history or lore. She’s created new items from Costa Rican leather coasters that a flight attendant picked up in the 1960s, from antique police and military uniforms, and from embellishments off of the dress of an English diplomat to Cuba during World War II.

“I also use vintage furs. I hate to see a fur rotting away on a shelf or in a box somewhere, it's almost like it died twice,” she said.

There are challenges to designing new items from ones already fashioned a certain way. Recently Perdue created a handbag using an authentic 1920s flapper girl dress. The process of both protecting the fabric and deconstructing it to make something different was difficult — but the end result was worth the effort.

“Taking something that people think is trash or has no use anymore and turning it into something beautiful is definitely a reward. I like to see old things get a second chance,” Perdue said.

Awash anew

Ashley Guertin is the Satellite Beach artist behind AG Originals, specializing in beach-themed art created on reclaimed wood. That wood comes from a variety of sources — from neglected shipping pallets to driftwood on the ocean’s shore. She also has an eye for other shoreline items, like sea glass and shells, and incorporates those when the project calls for it.

Like Perdue, her love for re-creation started at a young age. Guertin says her mother instilled a “make-it-yourself” mentality in her and her two sisters that has carried over to adulthood.

“I enjoy being resourceful and this mindset spills into my life in all kinds of aspects,” Guertin said. “It tends to be a way of life for me.”

That attitude, coupled with an artistic eye, has inspired Guertin in some of her most successful creations.

“I’ve created sconces, tables and other household items out of the wood and other items I’ve found. My main purpose in reclaiming wood is to provide a canvas for painting, though,” Guertin said.

Reclaimed wood comes with obstacles, like bumpy and porous surfaces that vary greatly from one piece to another.

“One of the greatest rewards of painting on reclaimed wood is that I have repurposed something that was discarded or thought to have nothing else to offer. I get to breathe new life into something with a fresh perspective and create something that someone will hopefully love and want to put in a home,” Guertin said.

“Maybe it is a little romantic but I really like the idea that every canvas I build has its own story — where it came from, where it's been and where it will go next.”

Reframing history

Seebe Carver is a Melbourne artistan who makes original furniture from a variety of repurposed materials. Some of his pieces feature a touch of recycled materials while others are fashioned completely from reused items. Most of his creations are designed with items requested by clients — often things with sentimental value that are falling into disrepair.

“My main motivation is to provide the client with a very personal and sentimental object, or to preserve an important piece of history in a new context to be appreciated by the user,” Carver said. “Sometimes I’m incorporating a very sentimental object of a client into a new piece, thereby preserving history for that person.”

Carver says that in addition to wood and fabric, he does a lot of design with steel and metal. The hardest part of recycling materials, often provided by a client, is figuring out the means of transformation.

“Sometimes it’s challenging because recycled things can be hard on my equipment, such as sawing through a board and hitting a nail with an expensive saw blade,” Carver said. “The moral component of all of this is to preserve and honor history, though.”

Learn more about these Brevard artisans:

Archeology Bags

AG Originals

Carver Design

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