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Offering up her '.02Cents'

Hartman uses chicken wire and rope to give this light fixture a one-of-a-kind look. (photo by Kim Brasel)1 / 5
Debbie Hartman, owner of My.02Cents, repurposed an ammunition box into a footstool with storage.(photo by Kim Brasel)2 / 5
A turkey barn brooder heater becomes a clock in the hands of Debbie Hartman, owner of My.02Cents in Wadena.(photo by Kim Brasel)3 / 5
A hutch, table and chairs are restored and given new life with some paint and a little imagination from Debbie Hartman. (photo by Kim Brasel)4 / 5
Debbie Hartman, owner of My.02Cents, fashioned a three-tiered cookie server into a light fixture.(photo by Kim Brasel)5 / 5

When your hobby takes over your garage and leaves your vehicles outside in the cold Minnesota winter, can you really call it a hobby anymore? That's what happened to Debbie Hartman of Wadena whose hobby/passion/obsession of repurposing old items has turned into her new, part- time business, My.02Cents.

"I really love doing this," Hartman said. "I enjoy my job as a physical therapist, but this rejuvenates me." What rejuvenates her is taking everything from old furniture to empty liquor bottles and cookware and finding a way to repurpose, restore, and reimage it all into one-of-a-kind home decor items.

That collection of items is what filled up their garage, and so in order to get his garage back, Hartman's husband built her a shed where she could store all the items she is working on and put her creative talent to use. When you walk into the shop, that creative talent is on display not just in the things she's made, but the shop itself which she stained and decorated. Instead of traditional wood wainscoating on the walls, Hartman used galvanized tin collected from local farms. The floors appear to be wood, but it's actually painted concrete floors.

Her first sale was August 11 and 12 out of her shed on their property located on Country Loop Road off Highway 75 in Wadena. She's planning a second sale the first weekend in November. You can also find her projects on Facebook, at My.02Cents. The plan is to do occasional sales right now, she's not ready to go into it full time.

"Eventually it would be nice to do this full time, but we'll see," she said. "We have two kids in college; right now it's fun to have my sixth grader and husband help. It's something fun that we can do together as a family."

Besides the creative aspect and working with her family, one of her other favorite parts is getting to know the people who come in her shop. "The cool thing is, I've met the most wonderful people."

The kids inherited some of their mom's creativity and helped Hartman find her way back to her favorite past time. As a kid she did various craft projects, but said the typical thing happened where once you get older and get busy some of those hobbies get pushed to the back burner.

Her favorite thing is to repurpose - you could call it scavenge - and she travels from Minneapolis to Morehead to find the items she needs to make whatever it is she's envisioning in her head.

"Most of my ideas are in my head, or I'll see a piece of furniture or cookware, old farm equipment and I'll get an idea from that. All kinds of things inspire me," she adds. "I'll look online for ideas too, but a lot of it just happens."

She has a clock on the wall created from a turkey barn brooder heater, a light fixture made out of quilting hoops, another light fixture created from plant baskets, and yet another from a three-tiered cookie tray.

"I buy items not always knowing what I am going to do with it, which is how the garage became a little too packed with my stuff. But that's part of the fun, you never know what you might be able to do with it and turn it into," Hartman said. "But if I have it on hand, when the inspiration hits, I can get after it."