By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN The lives of Tony and Linda Schaust are intricately woven with artistic flair and their rural Delano farmstead is brimming with proof.
“There are 20 handmade doors in the house,” Tony said. “Everything from desks to tables to clocks . . . it’s stuff that really cannot be matched.”
Linda loves making sculptures out of wood and bronze, whereas Tony’s specialty involves practical creations using old building materials.
“Truly, my highlight is making something out of nothing,” Tony said.
He helps people take down worn-out structures, using the wood to make unique, natural-edge pieces.
“I like learning from others. I just have a fascination with buildings and how they were put together,” he said. “I don’t like seeing fast equipment smash buildings and haul everything to the dump.”
Tony uses the lower-quality wood to heat his home, and selects the best pieces for his artwork.
“I take 10 to 15 percent of it and make it beautiful,” he said. “This way, it lives on to the next generation.”
Tony also donates wood to the University of Minnesota for classroom work.
Art of all sorts
Recently, Tony and Linda have been working together to create sets for area plays.
“The fun part of doing the set for ‘Amahl’ and other plays was doing something that’s unexpected,” Linda said. “That’s the attraction to break the boundaries.”
“Linda has a very good artistic side,” Tony said. “She knows a lot about color and balance.”
Linda describes her art as “all over the place.”
“I refuse to think there is something I cannot do,” she said, explaining that she’s experienced everything from welding to woodworking.
Her interest in art was piqued by a silver and goldsmith class she took in high school.
“We had a really cool teacher,” Linda said. “She was an amazing goldsmith.”
Myriad of materials
Instead of confining herself to one medium, however, Linda enjoys experimenting with all types of materials for unique color and texture combinations.
“It makes it unexpected and a little more powerful,” she said.
One of Linda’s stunning creations was featured at the Delano Public Library’s 25th annual art exhibit in October. Titled “Nature’s Highness,” the piece resembles a royal throne made of elm logs, stained glass, and recycled springs.
“It just became an item of passion,” she said. “I would be reluctant to tell you the hours I spent making it I’d guess it’s more than 100.”
Children who visited the library were drawn to the throne, and they didn’t hesitate to climb on and try it out.
“It invited participation,” Linda said. “It’s nice when you have art that’s touchable.”
Linda loves sharing her art with others, and she strives to create a pleasing sense of movement and shape in her work.
“I want to evoke a smile or a sense of calmness,” she said.
Tony also enjoys creating art for others, and his skillful tables, sculptures, cabinets, and benches are in high demand.
“People come and find me,” he said. “I usually have something going on all the time.”
A table Tony made out of recycled farm machinery, “Outdoor Hors D’oeuvre” was also featured at the Delano art exhibit in October.
“Many of our pieces are a way to hang on to a part of nature and present it in a different way,” Linda said.
Linda and Tony have distinctive areas of artistic expertise, but it’s easy to tell that they’re a well-matched pair.
“We met in a chair lift out in Colorado in 1995,” Tony said. “We just never let go of each other.”
Both Schausts have a hardworking “can do” attitude that shines through every inch of their hand-built 4,400-square-foot farmhouse.
The home took over four years of nailing, framing, sanding, staining, and planning, but it was a labor of love.
Tony, a former farmer and logger, harvested or salvaged most of the wood for the house and the other three farm buildings himself.
“Even the stairs are made from old barn wood,” he added.
The Schausts’ one-of-a-kind home was featured in the Nov. 14 2009 issue of the Star Tribune. To read the story online, go to http://www.startribune.com/homes/69995212.html?page=1&c=y.