Archive for August, 2013

Cheri Kopp – Mixed Media Artist and Repurposer of Unconventional Objects

When I called Cheri Kopp, a Seattle mixed-media artist, about interviewing her for The RE Store website, she told me she thought it would be better if I visited her at her home, where she creates her art. “Seeing is believing,” she said. And she was right.

The first thing I noticed about Cheri when I met her in her studio was the unassailable confidence with which she talks about her work. She’s very articulate about what she does and how she does it. In my experience, that confidence is somewhat unusual for an artist, I tell her. “I just have a very strong sense about my art. I’m very focused, and I believe in what I’m doing.”

Artist Cheri Kopp and Shrine to Unfinished Projects

Artist Cheri Kopp (left) wearing her assemblage necklace”Beach Wear” made of shells, pieces of de-constructed jewelry, and leftover beads. She is sitting in her the “little house in my backyard”, built by recycling/salvage craftsman/builder extraordinaire, John Akers. “Shrine To Unfinished Projects 1” is on the right.


Cheri uses all cast-off materials in her art, and she found early inspiration at The RE Store. “One of my favorite pieces, Shrine to Unfinished Projects 1, includes materials I found at the store,” she says. Shrines description from Cheri:

Incorporating red envelopes (a.k.a. lucky paper) from monetary gifts from my first marriage, this piece is meant for personal reflection. True to my reuse/recycle aesthetic, the shrine pieces came from a Shinto shrine that was converted into an entertainment center. The kitchen cabinet and pull were salvaged; the paint left-over from a fence project and the mirror is a thrift-store find.”

While all of her pieces share elements of mixed media mosaics or assemblages that share a 3D sculptural quality, the scope of her work is broad ranging, and perhaps that’s one reason she has found some success. She is always looking at used things with new eyes, and is always open to inspiration.

materials bins and foil yogurt tops quilt

Cheri’s bins of organized cast off materials (left) and “Not Your Grandma’s Flower Garden Quilt” made of foil tops from food containers, appeared in the 2011 Seattle Recycled Arts Show.


Cheri’s basement and garage are filled with numerous bins and containers (above, left) of very neatly organized cast-off materials that she has either found or generated as a result of household consumption—in other words, trash. She collects whatever strikes her fancy. “I have no idea how I’m going to use any item, until one day it all just comes to me.” She has collections of plastic caps and lids sorted by color; foil yogurt tops, all washed and neatly flattened (see more about this piece in the caption, above, right); popsicle sticks that have been run through the dishwasher; a cluster of multicolored hair bands, often picked up while walking in her Ravenna neighborhood; beach items trekked home from walks along the shores; and other seemingly random items too numerous to name. “I’m almost a hoarder,” she laughs. I assure her that hoarders are far less organized than she is. Her collections of working materials are almost unobtrusive in the rooms in which they’re housed.

you are what you eat and ART

Left to right – “You Are What You Eat”, “Can’t Top Vegan” and “Mostly Organic” – two of which have been in The RE Store’s Recycled Arts Shows over the years. And marquee letters found at The RE Store, now in Cheri’s studio.


Cheri’s first art show was the Fifth Annual Recycled Art and Fashion Show at The Seattle RE Store in 2006. She entered her compelling piece entitledYou Are What You Eat. She has since gone on to exhibit in 24 juried and/or curated group shows, 13 group shows, and one solo show. Her work was recently included in the Center on Contemporary Art’s (CoCA) Collision curated show, on display through September 14th, with 150 other artists from across the country and Switzerland, and her work is currently available for viewing at the group show The Meaning of Wood at The Rose Center Art Gallery at Lower Columbia College in Longview, WA. You can find out more about Cheri at her website,


Special thanks to Christine Clifton-Thornton for authoring this article.


Posted in: Recycled art and trash fashion, Stories about people

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Summer Kicked-Off with a Carport Deconstruction – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

Summer is here! And that means that the weather is perfect for barbeques, the beach, and even deconstructing a carport. Yes, a carport. At least that’s what The RE Store’s Seattle field crew did on its summer vacation.

field crew deconstructing

You may already know that The RE Store will pick up and/or salvage your reusable building materials for free in the greater Puget Sound area. But did you know that we also offer green demolition services for select projects? The goal of green demolition (or “deconstruction”) is to salvage as much reusable material as possible, while mitigating waste and environmental impact.

With these goals in mind, an aging carport in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood became the perfect candidate for summer deconstruction. We started from the top by stripping off the old torch-down tarpaper roofing; incidentally, this was the only real waste created during the entire project. Next, we pulled the plywood sheathing from the rafters and then removed and lowered the rafters themselves onto our trusty truck Possum.

I should mention that we parked Possum (one of our trusty flat-bed trucks) directly under the carport and worked from it like a scaffold. This provided a stable work platform and allowed us to load salvaged materials immediately upon removal. This is not the first time that Possum has served as part scaffold and part workbench. We even roped the carport’s vertical support beams directly to Possum’s side gates to keep the structure stable as we pulled it apart (MacGyver would be proud).

possum the truck as scaffolding

Surprisingly, most people don’t like to buy lumber that’s full of nails and staples. Thus, we typically “de-nail” all lumber onsite and this carport deconstruction was no exception. Larger nails must be removed the old fashioned way with pry bars or hammers. Smaller nails, however, can be extracted with a pneumatic nail-kicker. The nail kicker is essentially a reengineered nail gun that is placed on the point end of a nail to shoot it free of the work piece.

With the exception of a circular saw to cut a few beams down to length, we deconstructed the entire carport with hand tools and elbow grease. From start to finish, the process took five people approximately four hours, and it yielded twenty sheets of plywood, twenty-five 2”x10”x18’ boards, four 6”x6”x10’ posts, and an assortment of smaller lumber. We recycled all unsellable materials, such as old aluminum rain gutters, flashing, and the pounds of removed nails and others fasters.

loose beams ready for The RE Store

The RE Store’s green demolition services are well suited to standalone structures, such as garages, carports, sheds, and similar outbuildings. These types of structures can be dismantled efficiently with person power and hand tools and typically yield less waste. As an added bonus, green demolition of such buildings creates a supply of quality, reduced-cost building materials for re-consumption by the public.

Contact our crews in Seattle or Bellingham here:

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Whale Skeletons, Recycled Building Supplies and Custom Designs

Whale skeleton with REvision Division Display

“Using recycled materials is in line with our mission,” says Cindy Hansen. “One way to help the whales is by helping the environment, which is something kids can wrap their heads around. It’s something easy they can do.”

Cindy is a zoologist and the Education Curator at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. For more than 34 years, the museum’s mission is Promoting stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research. The museum is home to two gray whale skeletons: one hangs from the ceiling, and the other can be put together like a giant puzzle on the floor. Last year, the museum’s gray whale project was in need of a new display when Cindy happened upon Eberhard Eichner and the REvision Division booth at the Green Village during the San Juan County Fair. Eberhard, The RE Store’s designer/builder, launched the REvision Division two years ago, taking orders for custom building projects using recycled materials for businesses, home owners, and organizations. The Whale Museum received a grant for the gray whale exhibit, and they commissioned Eberhard and the REvision Division to design, build, and help install the interactive/interpretative information station.

Cindy, Jenny (the museum’s Executive Director), and Jill (Communications Manager) met with Eberhard in Bellingham to discuss the project, and, “As the four of us were talking, it all fell together.” Cindy said they had envisioned something with several panels on it, but it was Eberhard’s idea to work with the materials that he used: a door and a table at the center of the design, and louver doors as a decorative touch. “We decided to use those to display trivia cards, which are a huge hit,” she said.

whale museum display in the shop

Eberhard described the process and the result: “In three design, planning, and feedback sessions, we developed a very unique and functional display.  The components are still clearly recognizable parts of former uses and purposes.”

Says Eberhard of the design, “I was after a whale/maritime/Pacific Rim theme, and a compliment to the magnificent skeleton above. I made very few cuts or alterations to the original size, shape, and appearance of the components. It was a process of true collage and fitting matching pieces to each other.”

“The top “whale’s tail” panel came from a bed headboard and is floating on and among stacked “low tide rocks”, a.k.a. furniture legs.

“Eberhard was great to work with. He was so great at listening to our thoughts and suggestions,” said Cindy.

The grant that The Whale Museum got for building the gray whale display also included some funds for bringing students from low-income schools out to San Juan Island to see it and participate in the gray whale skeleton articulation program. Some of the students had never been on a ferry before. The program and display really complement each other and has been a hit with the students and teachers. Cindy said, “We’ve gotten so many great, great comments on it! It’s been a really popular exhibit.”

You can see the whale skeleton and the custom display at The Whale Museum, of course, and also on its website.


The REvision Division has built, among other things, a puppet theater for the Lummi Island Library, custom furniture for an elderly retirement house, and a picnic table for a dog park.

You can get a free 15-minute consultation on your reclaimed materials project—anything from full remodels to simple DIY projects:
In Seattle on the third Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
In Bellingham on the first Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. beginning in September, 2013

And you can find The RE Store educational DIY videos on the REvision Division page.


Special thanks to Christine Clifton-Thornton for authoring this article.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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