A slew of woodworking and welding tools, paint and accumulations of metal, wood, thingamajigs, and whatnots take over Bonnie and John Gaynor’s two-car garage. In fact, a vehicle has never seen the inside of its walls.
“We have been reARTcycle for around 14 years,” Bonnie says. “We both have always expressed ourselves through art in some manner or other. The decision to sell our art came much later.”
John is a retired high-school teacher; Bonnie, a retired social worker. Both started reARTcycle, their arts and crafts business, after finding a love for creating as a means of self-expression. “But it’s more than a hobby,” Bonnie clarifies.
They take reARTcycle to 18 shows a year to sell their garden art made from old fences and used items like golf clubs, bottles, horse shoes, scrap metal, spoons, cans, even diving tanks. “Basically, whatever we see and find interesting,” Bonnie says. “We love garbage-day finds. . . . Sometimes folks see our art and offer to sell us stuff they don’t have a use for, like their great aunt’s silver-plate. A scrap-yard is a treasure trove.”
reARTcycle pieces range from $7 to $250, and the Gaynors will bring 70 or more of them to the Holiday Flea at BAC this weekend to sell to the public. The three-day event, Friday through Sunday, will include over 50 vendors in the church and The Annex. It’s the 16th Flea at BAC, according to executive director Rich Leder. They host one each spring and holiday season.
“We try to create a well-balanced show, meaning not too many of any one kind of vendor,” he tells. The offerings make for one-of-kind presents for folks looking to add flair to their gift-giving, all the while supporting artisans and makers.
“Our art is one of a kind,” Gaynor qualifies. “Much of it is either heavy or too big for a box. In many cases the shipping would be more expensive than the art; therefore, we only sell at shows. It keeps it personal, the customers seem to really enjoy speaking with the artisan, and it adds a dimension to their purchase.”
Also at the Holiday Flea will be June Druchunas of Victorian Magpie—a jewelry maker that churns out steampunk wares in all styles, from bracelets to earrings to necklaces and beyond. Every whimsical piece includes an antique watch. Druchunas began her online shop in June of 2013.
“After over 30 years in the retail jewelry industry, I found myself in need of a new venture,” she says. “I worked in gold buying and was saddened by all the vintage and antique pieces being destroyed. To me it was like watching pieces of art and history being lost forever.”
She started off doing one show weekly at the historic downtown Wilmington market, held Sundays every April through October. Customers began seeking out her work with more vigor and greater demand, so she added more venues.
“The first one was the Brooklyn Art Center’s [Flea at BAC,]” she says. “Currently, I do 75 to 100 shows a year, ranging from local farmers markets, arts and crafts events, and vintage/antique shows.”
Working out of her home means it’s bursting at the seams with cords and chains, pendants and beads, hooks and eyes, and such. Druchunas left her full-time job just last January to focus solely on her burgeoning business. She receives help from a close, longtime friend, Lois Wallace, who has 40 years experience and works as a bench jeweler.
“I handle the markets, most of the product line and the website,” tells Druchunas, who has been a jeweler herself since the age of 16. “Being passionate about jewelry and antiques … it was a natural course. Being able to ‘save’ vintage items that no longer function as they were intended and recreate a new purpose for them is a wonderful feeling.”
Her lifelong obsession with antiques and jewelry has grown with every new damage or rescued item she finds. She considers them works of art, deserving of another life and purpose.
“When I began working with the old timepieces, I realized I found my calling,” Druchunas explains. “My goal in every item I create is to capture all of the original beauty and add a touch of character and charm, like it was always intended to be that way . . . These items bring back a wonderful feeling of nostalgia from times past, as well as appeal to the steampunk movement so popular today.”
Victorian Magpie pieces range from $25 to $350 and are priced according to their age and rarity. Druchunas will be selling more than 200 pieces this weekend at BAC.
The event takes place Friday through Sunday, with a $5 admission fee, good for all three days. Vendors will be selling wares and a cash bar will be open, along with different food trucks parked out front everyday and a coffee bar from Spoonfed in The Annex.
“Most vendors donate items for our awesome auction, which means I give away something great every 20 to 30 minutes for three straight days,” Leder says. “That’s a heck of a lot of winners. We play cool tunes. The place is decked out. And we have a total blast all weekend.”