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Owner of ReImagined gives new life to otherwise disregarded materials.

Two handmade fish by Jennifer Parker of ReImagined. Each piece is uniquely made from 95% recycled and refurbished materials. // Courtesy of Jennifer Parker

By Mallory Kruml

Jennifer Parker, the owner of ReImagined, loves turning trash into treasure.

In 2018, Parker found a new creative outlet in collecting and repurposing scrap wood and trinkets to turn them into whimsical animal sculptures that decorate a garden or home, according to ReImagined’s Facebook.

“I really like the idea of making something beautiful out of things that would otherwise end up in a landfill,” Parker said. “ReImagined lets me do just that.”

After a coworker gave her a craft store gift card, Parker was inspired to experiment. She bought supplies to try out painting but found that multimedia art was more her style.

Parker soon found inspiration online and started to gather materials to create an owl for a friend.

“I made it out of a piece of wood that we had leftover from some home project and a few random trinkets around the house,” Parker said. “At the time, I was so thrilled with how it turned out!”

Since then, Parker has created hundreds of items, each handcrafted with 95% recycled materials. The other 5% are stickers used in the painting process and felt pads stuck on the back of her pieces.

“I use a lot of unwanted lumber from construction sites, beach junk and things I find at salvage yards,” Parker said. “It’s a rather cathartic experience to clean things up and create beauty.”

After Parker creates each animal’s features and seals the sculpture for the outdoors, she names it. This process takes anywhere from two days to a week.

“I’m just finishing up a fish right now whose name is Van De Kamp, like the fish sticks from my childhood,” Parker said.

ReImagined’s inventory includes fish, owls, birds, frogs, bees, whales and cats.

Items are categorized based on size: small, regular or large, and range in price from $25 to $200. Small pieces are around 5 to 6 inches, regular pieces are about 12 inches and large pieces include multiple animals.

“It just keeps going and going, and every time I think I’m out of ideas, I come up with a new creation,” Parker said. “I’ve even dreamed of some of my projects.”

Belinda Botzong, a ReImagined customer, met Parker at the 2018 Whatcom Art Market. After gifting Parker’s sculptures to a few friends, Botzong decided to treat herself to an address board for her art studio.

Angel boards, one of Parker’s newest creations, feature the customer’s chosen word or house number along with a handmade angel sculpture.

“A lot of my own art is made with things that no one wants, so we have that in common,” Botzong said. “We both like to find rusty old gems and make them new.”

Parker’s sculptures deliver the whimsy that everyone should have in their lives, Botzong said.

Making the decision to use repurposed and recycled materials was easy for Parker, who lives a life conscious of her impact on the environment.

“We try and be as conscious as possible,” Parker said, “If it can be recycled, it gets recycled, and my art is no different.”

Arunas Oslapas, a Western industrial design professor, hopes to see sustainability become naturally integrated into design with small businesses that have mastered the craft.

Landfills across the nation are full of raw materials that shouldn’t be thrown away, Oslapas said.

“Our major companies have got to think about the end of life of the products they are designing, they have to choose earth-friendly materials, and they have to design things that can be produced without harmful byproducts,” Oslapas said.

ReImagined is typically at the Bellingham Farmers Market, boosting Parker’s sales, but COVID-19 has changed things.

Parker began to host pop-up markets at her own home on her front lawn under a canopy to make social distancing easier. With the winter coming, Parker has moved ReImagined’s inventory into her garage and intends to continue selling from home, as well as through the shop’s Facebook.

Parker plans to host an in-person ReImagined show in her garage the weekend prior to Thanksgiving to give people a jumpstart on their holiday shopping, and invites anyone interested to stop by.


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