From Prom Dress to Headboard–Repurposing Art in Clear Lake

P1010733It is all the rage these days it seems.  Repurposing old items into something new.  It is what my parents and certainly grandparents called normal.   It was not uncommon for them to recycle items and re-purpose them for another use.  Sometimes it was because of a brilliant idea but more often than not it was as a result of having to make do with something or doing without.

I was intrigued when I saw in the local paper, the Globe Gazette, an article featuring an exhibit on display at the Clear Lake Arts Center during April that concentrated on a selection of re-purposed art items. This display is a joint effort with the Clear Lake Earth Days Committee and is a fabulous little exhibit to browse.  The hubby and I took the quick ride to Clear Lake with this exhibit in mind.

I was encouraged to take pictures of the items for my blog post and I did just that but of course, as usual. I did not take nearly enough to really show the expanse of the display and the variety of the art that I saw.  If you are within driving distance I would highly recommend that you go see the pieces that I did not capture with my camera.  The Clear Lake Arts Center is located on South 4th Street and is open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday-Saturday.

The prominent piece that catches the eye of every arts center visitor has to be the beautiful thrift shop prom dress that local Kate Christensen crafted into a stunning headboard.  Don’t you agree that this is amazing???



Other favorites included the wonderful belted chairs created for functionality by Pat Benner.  With the buckles hidden safely on the underside of the seats these would be delightful chairs to sit and while away the  hours in—perhaps with a cup of tea in hand.




I am always intrigued by book art and there were several examples of that in this exhibit also including both clocks and purses which certainly caught my eye. Regina Smith of Fort Dodge was the creator of the purses which already are a popular seller.  Yes, some of the items are for sale so that is a bonus for visitors.



P1010747There was a lot stuffed into the display area and I know I missed a lot of great items that were there but this at least gives you an idea of the creativity and sense of whimsy that could be found at the show.  Below are a few more selections that caught my eye.



An orphaned drawer turned into a doll bed or a nightstand!!!  “Owldorable”, don’t you think?


A trumpet case used for display purposes makes it useful once the music is gone.

P1010748Do you have a bunch of ties that need a home?  How about this fabulous piece that will keep your interest tied up for hours?


Couch springs gone all wonky on you?  Turn them into an outdoor sculpture with a perfect spot to feature some fishing lures.  Clever!


As I stated I did not take nearly the number of pictures that I should have and the ones I took of some beautiful pieces from a local business did not turn out.  But this is where social media comes in handy!  I met Colleen Thompson across a room at a recent Social Media Breakfast meeting and remembered that she and her husband John own Powder Craft  in Clear Lake.  They had several items on display at this event that I did not photograph well and she graciously sent me a couple of pictures of the table that they have on display there that they use in their break room.  It is made from the old floor at the former skating rink in Clear Lake.  How cool is that? They are proud of the heritage of their area and want to do all they can to preserve it. Thanks ,Colleen, for sharing these with me.


table 2

There is much more to view and I have not even begun to show you the wonderful Clear Lake Arts Center itself with rooms and rooms of lovely art pieces to view. That is a post for another day but because this exhibit will end at the end of April I wanted to make sure I got this post posted in a timely manner.

This was our first visit but definitely not our last.  Do you have any favorite art centers that you visit or do you have a great idea for repurposing something into a creative and maybe useful item?  I would love to hear your ideas so please feel free to comment.  Don’t forget that our Comments for a Cause this month is My Happy Place in Mason City.  For each comment made during April my husband and I will donate 50 cents to My Happy Place to help provide beautiful bedroom and other transformation for kids in crisis.  You can read more about it by clicking here.



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  1. I really had to take a double take on this. Our Johnson Space Flight Center is located along our Clear Lake just southeast of Houston.

  2. You are so right that recylcing was a way of life for our parents (long before it was even a word!). It’s amazing how creative some folks can be. (When I first saw “Clear Lake”, I wondered if you lived in Texas: my niece is in that area. But then, I checked the address for the Arts Center…oops, wrong state!)

    • Guess I should have put Iowa in there, right??? 🙂 It was a really great exhibit and we had such a great time that day seeing all they had to offer.

  3. Wow!! How interesting.

  4. Love the chair. The headboard is a little over the top for my taste but undeniable a creative use of a prom dress. I love the trumpet case – I want to take an old suitcase and make a shelf out it (dam Pinterest) something the size of a trumpet case would be perfect. What a fun place to visit and you show it off beautifully.

  5. I haven’t visited the Clear Lake Arts Center. That exhibit is really cool. I really want that book purse. So many places to explore this summer.

    • They have a really wonderful place there and this was just one teeny tiny area. There is a lot to see and of course things get changed out all the time so there is always something new to look at. 🙂

  6. Wow!! That display is fascinating!! “Man’s” creative bent really knows no bounds! And the bed is wonderful!!!! Thanks for a great post once again!!!!!

  7. I really really like this exhibit idea. What creative minds at work here.

    Two of my favorite art centers are the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault and the Owatonna Arts Center. Those would be in Minnesota, of course.

  8. I love this. Makes me want to get back into crafting and repurposing. There is a tree stump from Hurricane Sandy waiting for me to turn it into a table. If only I had more time…. and space in my apartment for making things.

  9. Miranda Gargasz says:

    I love anything that’s been repurposed. It’s awesome. Thanks so much for sharing this. I think my fave is the chair with belts. That’s a neat idea!

  10. Sorry, I also love the repurposed drawer! Too cute!

  11. That is just awesomeness! It looks like a place I could get totally lost in for hours! I love it!

  12. What fun. I love the creative ideas people have. My family has always been big on re-purposing items (not that we are actually normal!)

  13. So many creative things here – so many great ideas. I love seeing stuff like this. I actually have a lone drawer and I’ve been wondering what to do with it.

  14. This is really interesting. I agree, this used to be the normal way of life.

  15. Love the chair and book clocks! Very interesting ideas. The table is cool too!

  16. Great finds! I especially love the book cover turned purse. 🙂
    It’s wonderful to think about how we could reuse things instead of adding them to landfills. I recently saw for sale an old vinyl 78 record turned into a serving bowl!

  17. Helen Brown says:

    I liked the owl doll bed and the care. Both were very creative.

  18. Loved the repurposed headboard – what a beautiful piece! Very eye-catching!

I love your comments--each one makes me smile and makes a difference for Comments for a Cause! Thanks!

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