Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. They bring folks together to build homes, communities and lots of hope. As part of this mission, and a great way to generate income to support the mission, Habitat for Humanity has a number of ReStore stores. It’s where the public can go to purchase affordable home improvement items in addition to lighting, sinks, cabinets, windows, doors, appliances and flooring at a fraction of retail cost.
In this spirit of recycling and upcycling, the director of the Cleveland ReStore asked Bonnie Forrest, a welding artist by night, to create a metal sculpture to reflect the mission of Habitat and embodies upcycling. Bonnie accepted this challenge and began the process of figuring out just what the sculpture would look like. After only a short time, it struck Bonnie; create a “life” size version of Habitat’s logo using only recycled materials.
So now that the vision was clear and the rough sketch was drawn, it was time to get the materials to make it all happen. First, she knew she needed windows for the backdrop of the “home”. Having been rejected by a few window companies, Bonnies’ husband Larry stopped at Joyce Factory Direct. Once we learned about the project, we gave them full access to selecting what would work best out of our dumpster of old windows.
Next, where was she going to get all the metal she would need to create 3 near life size people? As it would be, Rudy’s hardware store was closing their doors. They donated their entire remaining inventory to the Cleveland Restore store. Bonnie was like a kid in the candy store! She got to pick from wrenches, chains, washers, nuts and bolts and so much more.
Now that all the materials had been gotten, time for creating. Bonnie worked three solid months. She is a banker by day and a welder/artist by night. Her neighbors could see all the sparks flying in her garage night after night and wondered what in the world is going on! An interesting detail in the project is a “heart of gold” made out of actual keys from Rudy’s store. Bonnie decided to create this because Rudy has a heart of gold and, according to Rudy, keys were the “bread and butter” of his hardware store. The heart can be seen at the peak of the sculpture.
As the creative process was in full swing, Bonnie realized that the sculpture was not only large; it was going to weigh a lot. How would they transport it? Bonnie’s husband, Larry, to the rescue. He was able to “engineer” frame work to be like a puzzle. Pieces came apart at just the right points so that the sculpture could be transported in pieces. Once at the location, the sculpture was put back together and no one even knew that it had come apart and been put back together.
Through it all, Bonnie says that the process reinforced for her that there are good people out there and they are willing to help. Once folks, like Joyce Factory Direct and Rudy’s hardware, knew what the project was about, they were very giving. This project was a way for Bonnie and all those who donated materials, to pay it forward. If you open up your mind and imagination, you might see new ways to use old things.
The completed sculpture was dedicated at a ceremony at the Cleveland ReStore at the end of this past August. The piece is spectacular and has drawn a great deal of attention to not only to the artist, but to Habitat for Humanity and what it stands for. It is not every day that a logo comes to life through upcycling and creative hands.