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Rose Recycles: Glass with class

MONMOUTH -- If necessity is the mother of invention and curiosity is the spark behind every great idea, then inspiration must be the seed for creating art.

Cindy Ritacco, right, talks with repeat customer Julie Malo of Independence at the Rose Recycles booth at the Independence Riverview Market on Aug. 24.

Photo by Aaron Newton

Cindy Ritacco, right, talks with repeat customer Julie Malo of Independence at the Rose Recycles booth at the Independence Riverview Market on Aug. 24.

September 03, 2013

MONMOUTH -- If necessity is the mother of invention and curiosity is the spark behind every great idea, then inspiration must be the seed for creating art.

Some are born artists, others fall into it later in life.

For David and Cindy Ritacco of Monmouth, creating works of art from repurposed glass was just the next thing.

As if raising four children wasn't enough, the Ritaccos started another project together two years ago.

The idea was born from seeing sculptures and assembled works of repurposed glass at craft fairs up and down the Willamette Valley.

Glass with class -- Rose Recycles

Photo by Aaron Newton

Glass with class -- Rose Recycles

Giving their endeavor the moniker "Rose Recycles" -- each finished piece resembles a blooming flower -- the husband and wife team collect various glassware at thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales and work them into decorative elements for around the house or yard.

For the last year, the Ritaccos have had a booth at the Independence Riverview Market trying to get the word out about their creations.

"The whole thing was an experiment," David said. "We really never intended to sell them until after we made enough. We said, 'OK, what are we going to do now?' You can only give away so many."

David, a manager with the state vocational rehabilitation office in Salem, and Cindy, a teacher at Independence Elementary School, were never much in the way of crafty.

David knits on occasion and Cindy, being a teacher, is accustomed to piecing together classroom essentials.

However, the couple's newest venture put their craftiness to the test, sometimes with mixed results.

David Ritacco works the copper tube stand to fit the glass flower ornament. He pieces the stands together and came up with the idea to light each ornament with an LED.

Photo by Aaron Newton

David Ritacco works the copper tube stand to fit the glass flower ornament. He pieces the stands together and came up with the idea to light each ornament with an LED.

"We've revisited some of the first pieces we made. We look at them and think, 'Oh, what were we thinking?'" David said.

"I made my niece return hers," Cindy chimed in. "I brought it home, tore it apart and built it back up."

Though most of the thrift stores and flea markets throughout the county and the rest of the valley don't know the couple by name yet, each place is well aware of the treasures they seek.

Friends, family and repeat customers have gotten involved in the search for the next great piece of glass waiting to be turned into a work of art.

Cindy Ritacco checks a recently finished glass flower with an LED light at the couple

Photo by Aaron Newton

Cindy Ritacco checks a recently finished glass flower with an LED light at the couple's home in Monmouth.

"One woman bought one and she kind of convinced me I needed to make some with angels," Cindy said. "I told her if I find some angels, I'll make one. I ended up making one with an angel and it was beautiful."

The Ritaccos are constantly bringing new pieces home to join the growing stockpile of unused glass waiting to be joined into a finished piece.

Working various pieces into a finished product is half inspiration, half combining whatever is laying around.

Rarely does a finished piece stay the same from start to finish; it's an almost daily process of trying out a new dish or candle holder until it's just right.

Cindy usually handles the puzzle-like building of the glass "flower" and David is charged with constructing the copper tube stand and the final joining of all the parts.

David was also responsible for the idea that sets Rose Recycles apart from similar pieces the Ritaccos come across.

Cindy Ritacco searches through a stockpile of yet-to-be-used glassware for just the right piece for her next flower.

Photo by Aaron Newton

Cindy Ritacco searches through a stockpile of yet-to-be-used glassware for just the right piece for her next flower.

"I don't know how he came up with the idea, but he decided he could make them light up for me," Cindy said. "I came home and he had put a pole together and stuck the piece on. All of a sudden, I had light-up ornaments. It was so cool."

David's ingenious idea of placing an LED at the end of the copper tube, just beneath each flower, with a small solar panel as the power source has made their creations stand out to passers-by.

The color-changing light gives each piece its own character, further enhancing the appeal.

Works have made their way around the world to Washington, Arizona, Texas, Illinois and even Wales in the United Kingdom.

"I'm amazed at how much tourism goes on at the Independence Riverview Market. There are people from all over down there," Cindy said. "A woman got one as a gift and then came to buy one so she could send one as a gift."

David estimates they have made almost 200 hundred pieces since they began two years ago.

Betty Trabue, left, and Rod and Carolyn Shelby listen as Cindy describes the process of making her glass creations.

Photo by Aaron Newton

Betty Trabue, left, and Rod and Carolyn Shelby listen as Cindy describes the process of making her glass creations.

The evolution of their project has kept the couple -- together for 28 years -- close and allows them to have fun, now that all the kids are out of the house.

The project has been a hit with their children as well and helped to bring out the creative spirit in a few of them -- a few copper wire sculptures and pieces of furniture decorate the Ritacco home, all made by the kids.

One-by-one the kids graduated and left home, with the youngest daughter, Danielle, graduating from college this spring. She asked her parents what they would do now, as if their lives would deteriorate into boredom and meaninglessness.

Cindy was sharp with a reply.

"I had a life before you, I think I can have one again." she said. "It may have taken 25 years, but this has become one of our hobbies."

Creating a Glass Flower

* The process for each flower starts with a quest for glassware. The Ritaccos search near and far for interesting pieces, preferably ones that will illuminate well.

Once the pieces have been chosen -- usually taking a few weeks -- Cindy arranges anywhere from two to five pieces together to resemble a blooming rose.

Next, the glue is applied. It took the duo several months to find a glue that would work on glass and metal.

During this time, David has constructed the copper pipe that the flower will attach to.

The solar panel fits in the middle of the pole, with the LED situated at top.

Once the glue is dry, the flower -- with a copper elbow glued to the base -- is fitted into the pipe assembly.

After a few minor adjustments to keep everything snug without being too tight, the piece is complete and ready to be displayed in the yard or around the house.

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