Herald and Journal, March 2, 2001

Where everything old is new again

By Lynda Jensen

Old pots and pans, retired garden tools, aging silk flowers, and even an old pair of shoes might be what most people call junk, but not to Marilyn Gatz of Winsted.

Gatz's specialty is to breathe new life into old odds and ends by making fantastic floral and craft arrangements, which are enjoyed by seniors from Howard Lake to Winsted and Glencoe.

Literally hundreds of craft and floral decorations grace the tables, walls and cupboards of the Howard Lake Good Samaritan Center and St. Mary's Care Center, fashioned by Gatz's hands. She is currently working on items for Orchard Estates, Glencoe, as well.

It started when Gatz's mother, Elsie Heigl, relocated to the Good Samaritan Center four years ago.

Heigl - the mother of 13 -needed something in her room, Gatz said. In fact, when Gatz walked in the door of the center, she felt it needed to be more homey for the staff and residents alike, she said.

Gatz wrote to her seven brothers and five sisters, asking them to help her purchase items to decorate with. They answered with vigor, she said.

Things really got rolling when Gatz purchased a five-foot wide wreath that graces the fireplace at the Good Samaritan Center. The wreath is the focal point of the whole room and has accents that she changes with each season, she said.

The project that required the most thought was the curio cabinet next to the grandfather clock in the entryway, Gatz said.

The cupboards, behind glass, are loaded full of old tyme memorabilia including photographs, purses, white gloves, shoes, and other items sitting in a bed of lace.

Along the wall next to the cabinet are old tyme advertisements in picture frames.

Gatz appears to be gifted with an insight when it comes to arranging items, no matter where they are.

She takes into account the texture, lighting, complimentary colors and the vantage point of each decoration.

"Whatever works," she said. "There's umpteen things you can do. Every room is different."

She loves silk flower arrangements because they last so long. Her favorite flower is the hydrangea, she said.

Other items in her arrangements include old sheet music, seashells, old lanterns and an old license plate atop the interior bird house.

Gatz's favorite project was a fountain in the entryway, she said.

The look of the steel door interior at the entrance of the center is also courtesy of Gatz, since she got her neighbor, Ann Evans, to paint it with an early summer garden theme.

She visits the center to change the decorations for each season through the year, she said.

To observe the winter that won't leave, Gatz currently has snowmen, lighted evergreens, old sleds and shovels, and other items at the Good Samaritan Center.

Gatz will change her items for spring right before Easter, she said.

Before interior decorating, Gatz used to push a pencil for 40 years, she said. She has never taken a class in decorating, with the exception of a few acrylic painting classes.

Now, she owns a craft business known as County One Designs in Winsted.

Through her business, she decorates homes and businesses, including Hojies' Grill and Smokehouse in Dassel, the funeral homes in Lester Prairie and Winsted, and Midland Insurance, Winsted, among others.

Heigl died at the age of 93 last month, but her legacy continues, since Gatz has no plans to stop her work there, she said.

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