Most people drive past the broken furniture, used appliances and lumber discarded on the side of the road — but Sue Mondeel of Riverdale Park sees potential in things others leave behind.
She said she once turned a vintage refrigerator into a record player stand that stored albums inside the salad crisper; she remade an old vanity into a discreet cat litter box; and she has given new life to scores of tables, chairs and night stands found sitting on the curb.
Mondeel, 45, said she has been upcycling — repurposing old items to create something new and cut down on waste — throughout her life, but she only turned the hobby into a business called Shabadaba Chic a year and a half ago.
On Aug. 5 she took the project one step further, opening Tanglewood Works — a studio and exhibition space in collaboration with the Edmonston-based nonprofit organization Community Forklift, where she sells her upcycled furniture, handmade jewelry and the work of three other similar Prince George’s artists.
“I want people to come in and find a treasure,” Mondeel said.
Aderyn Bright of College Park, who works in the outreach department at Community Forklift and has been collaborating with Mondeel to bring Tanglewood Works to fruition, said the project “fits perfectly” within the mission and ideals of the nonprofit organization.
“Everything that’s in here has been kept out of the landfill ... they are our own neighborhood’s resources,” Bright said. “Tanglewood Works is really a great opportunity for shoppers of ours to see and be inspired by things they could do with these objects.”
Also on display are three paintings by Peter McClintock of Hyattsville, upcycled pieces by Christie Otvos of Riverdale Park consisting of door knobs mounted on wood and a table topped with granite tile made by Keith Harper of Hyattsville.
“I think it’s great. I always admire people who find creative ways to reuse existing products,” said Karla Lawrence, 36, of Hyattsville, a mixed media artist who had stopped by Tanglewood Works on Aug. 7.
Since Aug. 5, Mondeel said she has opened the store for only a couple of hours each day, but artists and potential customers are already stopping in to look at the items for sale and watch her while she works on new pieces. And many have suggestions and ideas for the business.
“I’m getting to meet the coolest people in town right here,” she said.
Starting Aug. 21, Tanglewood Works will be open for regular hours Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.tanglewoodworks.com.