BY: CYNTHIA MAULEON AND HAIYUN HE
Christina Colucci had an empty apartment and nowhere to put her silverware, so she built her own organizer.Today, the New Jersey native is always on the hunt for corks, wood pallets and other abandoned materials for her projects. She creates and builds decorative items for the home out of anything interesting she can find, and has started up her own company called r3, or recycle, reuse, redecorate.
“I went to school for painting and sculpture, but not for building,” Colucci said. “I’ve always wanted to build and so I said, I could do this.”
This new way of reusing material is not only fun and different, it is conscious and respectful to the planet. According to Colucci’s website description, r3 makes home decor, such as lamps and lighting fixtures, candle holders, mason jar wall decor, tiki torches and other odds and ends, out of 95 percent recycled materials. The primary materials used are wine and beer bottles, mason jars and reclaimed wood. She started collecting wood pallets and driftwood, as well as going to garage sales where people were getting rid of things.
Then, she just started collecting and coming up with ideas to give them new life.
The project Colucci was most excited about was her original book lamp. She found the base that holds the lamp on a side of road and when she played with the wires, it worked. She was amazed.
"You go around on garbage day and people throw away [items] that they have no idea they can reuse or...recycle,” said Colucci.
Colucci sells her items at a bigger shop called Crafted in San Pedro on the weekends. Here, her stand neighbors four other vendors with all other kinds of imaginative products.
“I think using things that people see as garbage , making it into something you can display, and thinking differently is great,”said Jennifer Seden, a jewelry artist at Crafted who owns a piece of Colucci’s creations. “Her creativity is amazing.”
When she’s not working as a waitress in downtown Long Beach, Colucci dedicates the majority of her time to putting together these innovative yet simple pieces of art for home.
Colucci and her girlfriend Megan have been together for two and a half years and have been traveling ever since. It will only be about one more year until they relocate to their next place of calling. Their next move may be to Washington, D.C., Colucci said.
“Megan and I are not one place people. Before we moved to California, we went organic farming in Italy for four months [where] we worked on seven different farms, milked cows, shoveled shit, chopped lumber, did the grape harvest, learned to make cheese, wine, olive oil, and slept above stables,” Colucci said. “We really like traveling.”
Colucci’s future plans are to buy land, have her own farm and be as self sufficient as possible. For the shop, she wants to continue to build and sell but also wants to narrow it down to things she really likes. She wants to eventually sell at bigger craft fairs like Patchwork, Unique LA and Renegade.
“I love to create. I love the concept that I could take old things and give them new life,” said Colucci. “I love the idea of helping people decorate their world.”
For more information on Colucci’s work, you can visit her etsy.