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Middle Stewiacke artist has a flair for the unusual


Diane Redden looks at items and wonders what they can become.

The Middle Stewiacke woman creates beautiful, and unusual, works of art with everyday household items like zippers, broken china and old records.

“Sometimes there are things that make me excited about creating, but I’m not sure what to do with them yet,” she said.

“I was walking by a bin of zippers at Frenchy’s and liked the colour palette, so I started thinking about what they could become.”

She’s now created several works of art from zippers, including a rendition of the old Truro train station that was added to the town’s art collection through the 2014 art acquisition program.

At one time Redden was creating more traditional art, and some of her highly realistic paintings still hang on her walls.

“Painting didn’t hold my interest, and I began to explore different things as a medium,” she said. “There’s something about certain textures I want to explore. Some stuff speaks to me.

I enjoy the tactile experience, and I love looking at colours, repurposing and recycling.”

She softens old records with heat and then adds them to vintage items like phones to create eye-catching pieces. She unraveled several sweaters and then knit a blanket with the yarn, and she uses pieces of broken china in many of the pieces of jewelry she makes. She’s re-upholstered furniture, and painted on old chairs.

“I like to keep the original chair as much as possible, but add my own flair,” she said. “I want to get more funky with furniture.

“I like to go off the beaten track, but I have to have time and be inspired.”

Sometimes finding that time is a challenge for Redden, who works as a sign language interpreter and has seven dachshunds and four alpacas at home.

The alpacas are inspiring her to make something new though. She has bags of alpaca fibre saved, and plans to dye and harden it to make jewelry.

She’s also saved a few things whose future purpose hasn’t yet been decided, including zipper heads, small toys, and a large box of buttons.

She tried some things, only to find they were too labour intensive to be enjoyable, such as making papier mache sculptures and knitting with dog hair. It was cleaning and sorting dog hair which required a great deal of time. Her husband, Kirk, estimated she earned about three cents per hour for her work with dog hair.

“There’s excitement about an idea and there’s excitement at the end, but sometimes the part in between is a lot of work,” she said.

Mixed with the excitement and the creativity, there is fear.

“I juggle exploration and the fear of failure,” said Redden. “I want to try new things, but I’m also scared of doing things because of my perfectionism.

“I’ll keep working with things that speak to me though. I enjoy experiencing the world though textures.”

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