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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Trash into Treasures: Luci Blake is the queen of re-purposing

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  • RIPLEY - As Ollie Harvey of the Ripley Women's Club writes in her weekly column, recycling can help keep the volume of landfills smaller as objects are re-purposed.
    For years, Luci Blake has recycled but not in the traditional sense of the word. Blake recycles by turning trash into treasure and creates functional and decorative pieces from discarded items.
    When passing Blake's home, motorists can see her whimsical touch in the front yard. Eyes made from old volley and rubber balls peek out from the bushes making them look alive in a comical sort of way.
    Looking around the garage a crib with spindle rails was artfully recreated into a small rustic looking bench. An iron headboard was transformed into a simple yet sophisticated piece of furniture. Mattress springs were turned into unique Christmas tree ornaments. In the midst of it all one can find Blake hard at work using her creativity to make unique pieces.
    Said Blake, "I have been a junk junkie for a long time. I was in Orlando Florida for 25 years but I'm originally from here (Jackson County). I had a small business in Orlando and kept bringing in gardening stuff. The year my dad died", said Blake, "I moved back to West Virginia. I saw that the garage was empty. My mom had gotten rid of a lot of things. So, a lot of what you see here I brought with me from my house in Florida."
    She soon found a use for the vacant structure and refilled it with objects that would get a second life.
    Ideas for projects came to Blake as she traveled in the county. "I started to see primitive things around town and thought to myself I can do that."
    However, unlike most primitive pieces that use newer materials and are made to look old, Blake's creations only use discarded items.
    Explained Blake, "To find stuff to work with I dumpster dive. The first time I did it I made the cutest benches. I also find things that people put out for garbage pick-up. Sometimes people will give me stuff. "
    In addition to making useful items from discarded objects, Blake knows a lot about herbs and other plants and grows them on her property.
    Said Blake, "I make jars of Comfrey Salve and I use all-natural ingredients; comfrey, ginger, calendula, rose petals, lavender, rosemary, elderflower, olive oil, grape seed oil, beeswax and vitamin E. The salve can be rubbed on the skin to help alleviate pain. The last batch went really fast, I didn't know it would be so popular. I have made more and they come in two sizes, 4 and 8 ounce jars."
    For those who use aprons to keep clothes clean while gardening or working on projects, Blake makes heavy-duty aprons that stand the test of time. Lifting the bottom of the apron she shows a small area at the bottom that is frayed from constant use.
    Page 2 of 2 - "The one I have on I made quite a few years ago and it has held up well. I used a durable material and put pockets in the front to put stuff in. I also made it longer and wider so it would fit better. I would like to be able to make more of them. I think people would like them," informed Blake.
    Blake stated that she will share her knowledge in upcoming classes.
    "In the fall I will teach how to make light-weight concrete. You can make water features stepping stones, pots, and fire pits."
    Blake stated that she would like to open a shop where she can sell her creations.
    "I have the name already picked out and that is Rustic Junky. I've been making inventory to put in it and I will make custom pieces too. I hope that by next spring I will be able to have it up and running."
    For more information, contact Luci Blake on Facebook at luci.blake.5@facebook.com.

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