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New life for old junk

Whether it’s old songsheets, half of a suitcase or a rake, these women can turn those things into something new

May 5, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - If an item is considered "junk," Kathy Nemmers and Marilyn Sell of Marshall can find a use for it.

Throughout the years, the women have turned chairs into shelves, old wood skis into coat racks, rakes into jewelry holders, picket fences into headboards, old hollow knife handles into flower holders, old tissue dress patterns and music songsheets into flowers and the list goes on and on.

Calling themselves "The Tomato Sisters," Nemmers and Sell create useful and decorative items from pieces they find at auctions, thrift stores or rummage sales. Some of the items they've made are at Italy Ava in Marshall.

Article Photos

Photo by Cindy Votruba
Marilyn Sell, left, and Kathy Nemmers, also known as “The Tomato Sisters” have taken such objects as suitcases, doors, mirrors, towel bars, songsheets and the like and used them to create decorative items, such as the project they are posing with.

Years ago, Nemmers and Sell worked together and started selling antiques and collectibles online.

"We started out going to mainly auctions and sold stuff on eBay," Sell said. They used the name "Tomato Sisters" as their seller ID, and Nemmers said it was just something that "gets attention."

Then eBay got to be "too many people," so they started to get into "junk" - the "trash to treasure" kind of items, Sell said.

"We had a sale at my house one year and it went over well," Nemmers said. They still take part in sales from time to time, including one at the former Lyon County Museum site last year. The women plan on being part of a sale that will take place in June at Junk with Purpose in Walnut Grove.

Nemmers and Sell find their wares at different venues.

"Kathy's big on rummage sales," Sell said. "I prefer auctions. I do thrift stores as well. We kind of know what we're looking for."

Sell also has "shabby chic" websites bookmarked on her computer.

"You get lots of ideas from that," she said. Sometimes the two will go to stores, see what other people do and come up with their own ideas as well, they said.

"We try to get together on weekends when we can, come up with ideas, gather stuff and do it," Sell said.

"Sometimes our ideas become something totally different," Nemmers said. "We're kept busy."

Sell said she'll also go on the Internet and find photos of projects she wants to try. She'll print them out and make sure they have the supplies to do them.

Nemmers said they're doing more than one project at a time. They also get a lot of the question "how did you do that?"

One such piece they made was taking half a door, a pouch, a towel bar and a mirror and turning them into something to hang on the wall. Another decorative item was fashioned from a suitcase half, old wallpaper, doilies and framed artwork of flowers.

"We do make things we like ourselves," Nemmers said. Nemmers said several the items she and Sell have made are in her house.

The Tomato Sisters also have done holiday-themed projects.

"We're big on Christmas stuff, we've done a lot of Christmas (items)," Sell said.

Recently, the two have found things they want to turn into something new, such as a metal frame that once held crystals, which will become a suncatcher, and a wicker piece. Nemmers said she has enjoys using a certain material in some of her projects.

"I like to cover stools and things with burlap sacks," Nemmers said.



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