Artist Spotlight: Julie Wilson and The Department of Work

Not all creative efforts become art. Not all reclaimed items are for visual enjoyment. Some, like the cast iron cookware Julie Wilson is offering, are for use….and a LOT of cooking creativity and enjoyment.

Cast iron has long been a treasured cookware, typically used over time in more rustic environments like cattle drive chuck wagons and at grandma’s house out in the country. But modern cooks everywhere are rediscovering the benefits of cooking in cast iron. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to care for the cast iron and it can rust and become unusable for cooking.AE3C37E8-7EF1-4A17-89A3-5EC3B3BB0DB9 - Department of Work

That’s where Julie Wilson and The Department of Work steps in, complete with elbow grease. She refurnishes the cookware she finds at yard sales and thrift stores by scrubbing off the rust and reseasoning the pans so they are ready to go, good as new. E4EECC16-8BA5-4FF0-8AD4-38869AF5D873 - Department of Work

This is another kind of zero waste; one that restores old items to make them usable again.  Julie says, “We rescue unloved cast iron cookware. We clean it and reseason it so it can get back to work. 100% sustainable, healthy, and affordable.” And better than that, Julie adds, “Cooking is a creative act of love which makes the kitchen the heart of the home. When food is prepared in cookware, especially cast iron with a history, magic is at work.”2BC71B40-2FB9-4AFB-ACBF-4670C809E03B - Department of Work

“I grew up recycling before there was even a name for it; it’s just what you did. I learned from my mother and grandparents. I learned to sew by watching my mother which lead to a career as a professional costume technician: From a two dimensional sketch I made three dimensional items of clothing for performers to wear. I specialized in the non-garment items, the fun stuff like armor, jewelry, hats and shoes. So I used my hands and was often given materials of unknown origins to make the desired object. This life took me to Ashland for 12 seasons, 7 years in Seattle at the various performance venues, and almost 3 years in Las Vegas working for Cirque du Soleil.
I returned to my beloved Oregon and in so doing, knew I was retiring from costuming. There are only so many jobs and I was ready for a “big shift”. The shift came when, after vending vintage decor at flea markets, my beloved and I went camping and he realized he needed the activity of slow cooking to keep him busy – I was good with sitting in the sun with a good book. His research into the use and (consequent restoration) of cast iron cookware created an overstock of items that we needed for that next camping trip. So it got sold at the next flea market, and the next one, and the next one…….. His cast iron became the main attraction and I realized that I had just walked through a major door of opportunity. 59DC334B-7285-4113-81D6-091E5FD4BBC1 - Department of Work
I am now fully committed to rescuing unloved cast iron. I love that I am offering an affordable, healthy, and sustainable product. I love bringing these pieces back to life and find such joy when a customer finds just the right piece, whether it is adding to their collection or is their very first piece. I have created a vocation where I continue to use my hands, interact with folks who are passionate about cooking, and am always learning about these amazing products from so many different peoples and cultures.  I am living the life of a crafts person and hear from customers, “Thank you for doing this!”, when they see the huge variety of rescued cookware. It’s a good life!”

 

Julie Wilson and The Department of Work is located at Table #26.

 

Artists Spotlight: Josh Baulch and Bent Wire Republic

Image result for nixie tube sizes

First, before you get to meet Josh you might appreciate this lesson in old electronic parts: a Nixie tube looks like this. And from Instructables, a definition: A Nixie Tube is a Neon gas-filled tube, that has a wiremesh anode with various cathodes shaped like numbers or symbols. Back in the 1950s they were used in computers, calculators, and laboratory equipment. Nixie tubes were replaced by LEDs and VFDs(vacuum fluorescent displays)in the 1970s.

At Bent Wire Republic,  Josh always enjoyed working with his hands to fix things. A few years ago, he discovered nixie tubes and had the opportunity to build a nixie tube clock from scratch. He found it  exhilarating to soldier together all the circuitry and see the simplicity of a nixie tube turn into a fully functioning clock.GE Radio - Josh Baulch - Copy

This experience brought history to life and to see the nostalgic glow each of the nixie digits.  From that point on, Josh wanted to keep creating those remarkable devices, but also began to incorporate them into other antique and vintage electronics that he revitalized. When he realized his house didn’t have enough room for all these creations, he decided to share them with the world. This was the beginning of Bent Wire Republic. Cage-Lamp-4 - Josh Baulch

Josh says, “I love working with reclaimed materials to give rundown antiques a new lease on life as revitalized pieces of functional steampunk-style art.  Even the Nixie tubes for my clocks are reclaimed. Hunting and salvaging for old electronics gives me great joy.  Seeing the transformation from dirty and run down, to meticulously preserved and rejuvenated is electrifying.  I love having the opportunity to display and showcase that excellent craftsmanship of yesteryear.”Weston-Polyphase-Front - Josh Baulch

Josh Baulch and Bent Wire Republic is located at Table #1.