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Not too shabby

Granite Falls woman turns old dinner plates, vases, pots and other items into colorful garden decor

May 28, 2011
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

Nicole Schiller of Granite Falls believes things such as old plates, salt shakers and cookie sheets shouldn't have to end up in a landfill.

Instead, she'll turn those plates and cookie sheets into a piece of garden art.

Schiller, who works as a wildlife lake specialist at the Marshall office of the Minnesota Department of Resources, started creating garden art under the name Shabby Knacks, using such things as glass items, old dinner plates, and platters.

Article Photos

Nicole Schiller and her son, Corbin, pose in one of her gardens where she has a few of her “forever flowers” on display. Schiller reuses old dinner plates, bowls and other items to create the garden decor.

Schiller said that reusing these items relates to what she does for a living.

"I work in natural resources, I like that people's mindset is going green," Schiller said. "I've always been interested in green, sustainable living and upcycling."

Upcycling has become more popular, she said, but working with glass isn't a new concept for her.

"I've been working with glass for 20 years," Schiller said.

Schiller said her mother worked with stained glass and that's where she learned about turning pieces of glassware into art.

"I picked it up and I got addicted," Schiller said. The idea of stacking glass items isn't new either, she said, and for one project, she made her mother candlestick holders out of baby food jars.

Schiller said her pieces are mainly glass and mixed media.

"I concentrate on the garden art and the flowers," she said, referring to the decorative items she makes for the garden. "I call them 'forever flowers.' They're the size of dinner plates."

And that's what she'll use to fashion together the flowers - actual dinner plates and bowls she'll find at garage sales, thrift stores or auctions.

"I'm taking fancy bowls and dinner plates, add different pieces - cake tins, salt shakers," Schiller said. "I rescue them and give them a good home."

It isn't unusual for Schiller to have a cart full of all kinds of glass when she does go to a thrift store.

"I walk out with boxes of stuff," she said.

Those boxes of stuff then go into a room in her house that's full of glass.

"I go down there, find a neat piece of glass and build around it," Schiller said.

That neat piece of glass could be a vase or a plate which starts the process for a new project.

"I'll start matching the glass colors and the glass types," Schiller said. "I'll do that for a while before I bond them together."

Although she tends to specialize in the "forever flowers," Schiller said she's easing her way into other decorative items.

"I do candlestick holders and serving platters," Schiller said. "I've been getting more into birdbaths and birdfeeders."

Schiller has most of her work featured on the craft website,, plus she has had her work on display at Italy Ava and Blue Green.

"I think the artistic part about it is the combination and balance," Schiller said.

Schiller said she enjoys gardening and figures that is why making her upcycled pieces has caught on.

"I think the fact I like to garden, that's why it exploded," Schiller said.



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