Saturday, December 04, 2010

One surprise after another for Cheyenne's dumpster-diving glass artist

For Beth Rulli, dumpster diving is an art form.

The Cheyenne glass artist gets most of her material at dumpsters at a local window company and various other locales.

She hauls the glass back to her Cheyenne studio. She cleans it, cuts it to size, paints it, places it on a mold and inserts it into the kiln.

Then she waits for the surprises.

"The next day, I get to open the kiln and find out what happened," Beth writes in her brochure. Unexpected colors. Craze lines in the paint. The glass has moved in strange and unexpected ways.

She displayed her distinctive "genuine dumpster glass" Saturday at the Cheyenne Winter Market downtown at the Historic Depot  She occupied the first vendor spot inside the door so had first dibs on all the people streaming into the Depot. She invited me to "dumpster dive" in a large blue plastic bin filled with her glass bowls covered in protective layers of bubble wrap.

While I picked through the bin, she said that she had first labeled her work "trash art."

That didn't go over too well.

"I decided on 'dumpster glass,' " she said. "My husband and daughter were horrified."

She registered the name in Wyoming and Colorado, which is mainly where she sells her work.

I eventually arose from the blue bin clutching a blue bowl with distinctive craze lines. Its rim had some strange bends which might be called imperfections by lesser mortals. Beth described them as "one-of-a-kind charms."

The bowls are food safe but should be washed by hand. And they're breakable since they're made of glass. It will make a wonderful Christmas present for someone less klutzy than I.

That's how it is with handmade goods. They are not made on assembly lines. They are supposed to contain distinctive elements.

Beth Wood is an LCCC student in Pine Bluffs who runs High Country Treasures. She makes her jewelry from an assortment of rocks, precious stones and metals. While she has some tools in her studio, she sometimes has to turn to a local machinist to cut the metal for her pendants.

As a youngster, Beth used to buy rocks at gift shops during family trips. She eventually had more than 400 pounds of a variety of rocks. She decided to make beautiful things with them. While the materials may come from all over, the jewelry is all made in Pine Bluffs.

Some very creative people in this town of 1,153 in eastern Laramie County.

Hard workers, too.

The couple that runs Paisley Farms in Pine Bluffs oversee 250 chickens in a couple little houses. They don't say coops -- they say houses. They look in on all 250 residents daily. That's a claim that definitely can't be made by factory farms.

I bought two dozen eggs from Paisley. I haven't been eating many eggs since the dirty egg epidemic from Iowa factory farms that erupted in September. I will now though. I hope to know each of those 250 hens by this time next year. I see Gertrude and Sally and Philomena and Hortense and Tiffany and....

Anyone heard of a hen called Tiffany?

I worked my way down the line of the Pine Bluffs purveyors. Next stop was High Point Bison. Owners Glen and Jill Klawonn are members of the National Bison Association. I bought some of their fine bison jerky. Next time, I'm claiming some of the steaks.

As it grew closer to noon, I felt drawn to Cheyenne's Pioneer Bar-B-Que. I envisioned beef brisket sandwiches for lunch, so bought a pound of it. At another table, I found some knotty rolls made by Uncle Fred's in -- where else? -- Pine Bluffs.

Goods in hand, I trudged back into the cold and drove home.

The next winter market rolls around Jan. 8. I should be hungry again by then.

Get more info about the Cheyenne Winter Farmers' Market at 307-649-2430.

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