Woman turns unwanted items into unique pieces of artwork

12/1/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Nothing is junk to Katy Hopson.

"I have an assortment of magnets, bracelets, journals — re-purposed items made out of really anything I can find that has kind of been set aside, stuff that's no longer serving a purpose — so I try to change that I guess," Hopson said.

She currently has her work on display at the Garden City Arts Gallery as part of the Holiday Glitz exhibit that is running through Dec. 21.

Hopson is inspired by vintage memorabilia, all of which she uses in her artwork. The journals in her display are made out of a variety of vintage materials, including old sheet music, books, maps and bingo cards, that came from a church.

"A customer brought me three or four boxes full of these bingo cards that she had gotten from this church. They had stopped doing their bingo program, I guess, so she had had them in her garage. It was so sweet of her to bring them to me. It has become one of my favorite items to work with. It's very eye-catching," Hopson said.

Because information is so easily accessible through the Internet these days, many old publications have become somewhat obsolete, but not to Hopson. One of the necklaces she made is an old watch with a butterfly in place of the clock.

"That was an illustration. It's an old illustration from an old encyclopedia or dictionary," she said. "The information is outdated, so they serve no purpose anymore."

Even her business cards are made out of something else — a deck of cards.

Hopson has a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Fort Hays State University and is a graduate of Holcomb High School, but grew up in northwest Kansas, where her family spent a lot of time at her grandparents' farm. It was this experience that proved to play a significant role in her life.

"My grandparents had a farm that we would always be at, and my sister and I would make little forts. Everybody has that experience, but I think my favorite part was designing the fort and coming up with all these different things I could find, like cinder blocks, around the farm and kind of constructing these makeshift walls. We had this old refrigerator frame that I used at one point — just anything I could get my hands on," she said. "I guess I was lucky that my grandparents had a farm with a lot of random pieces they weren't using."

It was some of her grandmother's old stuff that Hopson said got her started with repurposing old things.

"My grandmother was a pack rat. She saved everything. I think she had like nine different toasters — in case one broke, she had the part to replace it. So after she passed away, we had a lot of her old stuff and it was just sitting there useless, really, but we didn't want to throw it away. It was something special, and there's a nostalgic aspect to it, so I started trying to repurpose it, find different uses for it and that's kind of incorporated into my jewelry and the book-making. Unfortunately, I feel like I've kind of become my grandmother because I'm almost turning into a pack rat, as well," she said, laughing.

Hopson has found much of the other items that she has repurposed from thrift stores and antique stores, but her customers also bring her items.

"'I do have a lot of women who have like old watches that they were given for high school graduation or different occasions in their lives, and they're broken and nobody really knows how to repair those anymore, so they bring them to me and I turn them into a necklace or something special that they can keep, so it's no longer just wasted. Everyone has those family items they can't part with," she said.

Hopson converted some old game pieces into magnets.

"They came from a lotto game set, and I turned them into magnets," she said. "Once I find something, I really try to use every part of it."

Alberto Hernandez-Martinez, a fellow artist who works part-time at the gallery, said that Hopson's art inspires him.

"It's very unique, and it's something I've always wanted to try," he said.

Hopson enjoys painting, as well, which she said is also nostalgia-themed.

"It references a lot of memories I had growing up, and I also used a lot of family photos and places that were important to my family and that kind of shaped our family history," she said.

Hopson sells her work at local craft shows and thrift and antique shops, and has both a Facebook page, Alternative Designs by Katy Hopson, and her own website, klhopson.carbonmade.com.

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