Jan. 8, 2007

Recycled wood made into Christmas crafts

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Old-fashioned, decorative sleds made from the wood of an old bed, and bird houses made from old deck posts are just a couple examples of the crafts Marlene Hackbarth of Howard Lake creates.

“I use everything I possibly can without having to buy scrap wood. My life is like that, I recycle everything I can,” Hackbarth explained.

“We have a cabin up north, and I cut everything in my woodshop up there,” Hackbarth said. Then she brings the wooden crafts home to Howard Lake to paint them.

Hackbarth not only cuts wooden shapes such as snowmen, sleds, birdhouses, mittens, and socks; she then paints the items and adds accessories.

In fact, Hackbarth will paint just about any object she comes across. Along with her wooden crafts, she paints ironing boards (to look like Santa), chairs, gourds, pillows, and even an old outhouse.

“The outhouse is up at our cabin. We don’t use it, but I painted it and hang baskets, flower boxes, and wind chimes on it. It’s a conversation piece,” Hackbarth laughed.

The wooden Christmas socks she makes are modeled after the kind her dad wore when she was a child. “They were wool socks. Some had the red tops and some had green. I was the middle of nine children, and we used to hang up my dad’s socks for Christmas,” Hackbarth said.

If there are imperfections in the wood, she’ll paint a patch on that spot to take advantage of something that would otherwise be undesirable.

Hackbarth said that the people who buy her crafts have began to ask her to sign the item, “for whatever reason.” “This year, I signed and dated everything, in a hidden spot.”

In addition to wood crafts and painting, Hackbarth enjoys knitting, crocheting, and quilting.

“Some people go to the fabric store and pick out color coordinated squares of quilt material, then take it somewhere to have it quilted. I make mine out of scraps, and everything is hand stitched,” Hackbarth explained.

“Years ago it used to be like that. You used what you had and coordinated it as well as you could. There’s quilting and then there’s quilting,” she said with a smile.

Hackbarth’s crafts can be found at the antique store in Maple Lake, and the Third Street Cafe in Dassel decorates with some of her crafts.

“The Third Street Cafe has one of my ironing boards that I painted into a Santa Claus, and have bought other things from me to decorate with,” Hackbarth said.

“I’m crafty, I’m retired,” laughed Hackbarth. “I love doing this stuff, and there’s just not enough time to do it.”

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