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Relics of your take on anew purpose, thanks to the imagination and artistry of Dawn Penning and Chris Nason. "The joy of the hunt is huge," Penning said of their promenades to the dump, garage sales, auctions and flea markets.

A passion for yesteryear stirs longing for Attic Treasures

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A passion for yesteryear stirs longing for Attic Treasures
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Duo gives subline new purpose to household artifacts>/B>

Dawn Penning and Chris Nason have added a new R to the reduce, reuse, recycle credo.


"We repurpose," Penning explains.

"It's a sickness," the duo laments, grinning. "We're on a first name basis with the guys at the dump."

Three years ago, the "rummage sale friends" who are co-workers at Century School, decided their inventory of goods had reached a crisis point.

"You can only buy so much stuff," Nason said.

Meanwhile, they had met their mentor, Iva Thielges, a.k.a. the Nashua Trader. Her commercial enterprise revisits treasures from eras past and sends them off on a new path of purpose. A travel trailer from days of yore serves as her emporium.

"We looked at each other and a light went off," Penning recalled.

"We decided we could do this," Nason said, seeking Thielges' advice.

They set off on a merry mission, traveling from auctions to the dump to rummage sales and flea markets. "Junking" joined their vernacular.

"The joy of the hunt is huge," Penning said. "It gets under your skin."

She'd often come home to find treasures in her yard, friends and neighbors dropping off donations.

Their debut sale was in the attic of Penning's garage, the pair surprised by the response.

"We didn't expect it to go as well as it did," Nason said.

They learned they were not alone in their affinity for the vintage. But what set the pair apart was their ability to revitalize an item relegated to the basement - or abandoned at the dump.

"We give it new life," Nason explained. "We fix it up" - with paint or adding aged character via distressing.

They have given old furniture new wings, resurrected junk to become a room's focal point, turned trash to treasure, the ultimate - and fun - form of environmental etiquette.

"We send clients down memory lane," Penning said. "They buy it because they had it."

"The furniture exploded," Nason said of customers' we'd-have-never-thought-of-that reaction.

Old dressers now take up residence in kitchens, bathrooms or premiere as buffets.

Bed frames become benches - in the garden, complementing an old sink and pump.

Stairway spindles evolve to become candleholders.

Old cabin windows take a horizontal position as coffee tables or adorn cabinet fronts.

A potato masher holds photos.

"Gaudy" old clip earrings assume a bodacious new identity as pendants and rings.

Typewriter keys and Scrabble blocks dangle and dazzle as bracelets.

Nason, a seamstress, transforms old linens and chenille into pillow covers.

Their greatest joy comes in metamorphosis of the discarded.

"We imagine its history," Penning said. "We consider ourselves to be old souls - resurrected.

"We're a society that throws," she reflected, although that's abated a bit with the economy's slump.

Some of their discoveries are merely resold, such as vintage dishes. But most of it is repurposed, often with husband Rick Nason's help.

The first year, recruited to help haul "stuff," he just shook his head, Nason recalled.

"But when he came to our second sale, he watched in awe," she recalled. "The stuff was flying out the door..."

"That was his ah hah! moment," Penning said.

He's no longer complaining," Nason said of his role as carpenter, mover and tutor. He has schooled them in the use of a scroll saw, jigsaw, sander, screw guns and nailer - hammering home: "Measure twice; cut once."

The cottage/primitive/ vintage items often become part of the décor in one of their houses for a time -but soon move on to market. "We have to purge," Penning said.

The "business" will be moving from its original site on Conifer Circle to Dorset this summer. But they will continue their "saling" adventures. "It's a good pastime."

The entrepreneurs see the venture not simply as commercial, but inspirational. "We enjoy sharing ideas," Penning said.

The only snag, they agree is calculating value. "There's only one of anything; it's hard to set a price."

Jean Ruzicka
(218) 732-3364