For almost 40 years, Addy Van Moer of Marshall has found a way to reuse different items, from outdated jewelry and old sweaters to florals and gourds.
One of the questions that she's usually asked is "Addy, what did you create today?"
A couple of her most recent creations include a jewelry Christmas tree in a frame and bracelets made from various pieces of jewelry and old watches.
Addy Van Moer explains how she makes mittens from old sweaters, using a pattern she picked up from an employee at Dr. Jeff Thomas’ dental clinic.
Van Moer said she started taking craft classes at Johnson's back in 1973 as she wanted a way to get out of the house after having her third child. A couple of years later, she started doing ceramics painting.
Throughout the years, Van Moer's tried a variety of crafts, including wood craft with her husband Larry, either making bird houses or decorative snowmen and people with wooden posts and old sweaters.
In 1998, she started volunteering at the Avera Auxiliary Thrift Store when it was still at the hospital. That's when she got into florals, creating different decorative pieces. She said she also likes to work with pheasant feathers.
Then she started to create "handkerchief collages," using ones she'd find.
"What I wanted was a wall hanging of old hankies, and sewing is not my bag," Van Moer said.
So she decided to try a different approach with the old handkerchiefs. Van Moer framed the handkerchiefs behind glass. The handkerchiefs are glued inside with gluesticks.
"I usually like to add a piece of tatting if I can find it," Van Moer said. The tatting is an additional accent on the framed handkerchiefs. Sometimes she may use up to nine handkerchiefs in a piece.
Van Moer said she's made some framed handkerchiefs for people as well.
"Instead of having Grandma's hankies in a box in a drawer, (you can) put them in a frame," Van Moer said. Along with her friend Caroline Wacha, she also incorporated some of the old hankies into pieces that look like quilt blocks, and some hang on her wall at home.
As for her jewelry Christmas trees, Van Moer learned how to create them after taking a class at Johnson's.
"I work with the jewelry at the thrift shop and I decided to put the outdated and damaged (jewelry) into a frame," she said. Van Moer volunteers about 15 to 20 hours a week at the thrift store where she works with the jewelry, sorting out some of the good pieces from the damaged ones to use for her jewelry trees. She said she also uses old frames from the thrift shop for the trees.
The tree is put on black velvet, and Van Moer then glues the jewelry and watch pieces to the tree form on the velvet.
"(It) takes a lot of time and patience," she said. She does projects during the evening, and it can take up to 20 hours to complete a jewelry tree, she said.
She starts at the top of the tree, outlining the shape with pearls. Van Moer will then add a couple of pieces of jewelry as "focal points," she said. Even one of her favorite snowman pins that broke became part of a jewelry tree.
"I just fill in with beads and pearls, old earrings, pins and watches," Van Moer said. Pieces of old watch bands are used for the trunk of the Christmas tree.
Van Moer said her husband cuts the posts off the old earrings, as well as the watch bands that go into the jewelry trees.
"You'll be surprised how tough they are," Van Moer said.
She then puts watch faces within the trees.
"You'll be surprised how they catch people's eyes," Van Moer said.
With bling being the "in" thing, she also makes bracelets from the pieces of broken jewelry and old watches, an idea she got from her niece in Rochester.
She donates a percentage back to the thrift store as well as the jewelry trees.
And if that isn't enough, she has also made mittens from old sweaters, using a pattern she got from Lisa Welsh at Dr. Jeff Thomas' office.
"I cut them out, fold in half and blanket stitch around them with yarn," she said.
Since she doesn't watch a whole lot of television, Van Moer said she'd rather work on her crafts.
"I don't like to read, I don't have a computer, I prefer to keep busy with my hands," Van Moer said.