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Top honors
1st place winners
Preschool to second grade: Caiden Girardot, “Recycled Robots”
Third to fifth grade: Rebecca Burns, “Triraffe”
Sixth to eighth grade: Todd Harmon, “Clock Tower of Tomorrow”
Ninth to 12th grade: Jake Knoke, “Just Dew It”
Adult: Marilyn Brames, “This & That & A Cat”
Preschool to fifth grade, group: Willowbrook Day School, “Let Your Light Shine”
Photos by Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Max Machall, 5, left, with siblings Ella Machall, 11, and Mitchell Machall, 7, check out the Trash-To-Treasure art show at the downtown library.

Library hosts art show for recycled creations

Marilyn Brames submitted a pumpkin, cat and skull crocheted out of plastic bags. She won first place.

The cowboy wasn’t quite Woody of “Toy Story,” but he wore a convincing costume. The colors were right; the badge was key.

But he wasn’t exactly made of wood and cloth. His cowboy hat, for one, was a piece of a spray can nestled on top of an oatmeal-lid brim, all painted brown. His arms were milk carton handles. His legs, wrapping paper tubes.

The Allen County Public Library hosted an art show Saturday afternoon. Tables lined the wall down the Great Hall displaying everything from Woody to the Statue of Liberty and a cat arching its back.

A closer inspection revealed not clay, stone or plaster, but gears, plastic grocery bags and oatmeal containers.

This year marked the 13th Trash-to-Treasure Art Contest, put on by the Allen County Solid Waste Management District. Competitors were able to work from February until the pieces were due Saturday morning to turn trash and recyclables around their house into art.

Four of the five categories were divided by age, from preschool through adult, with another for groups. Each category honored first through third places with savings bonds ranging from $100 to $50, said Susan Keeler, who organized the event with the waste management district.

This year, the event had 38 entries, which is considerably fewer than in previous years, Keeler said. The youngest group and the adult group had the most entries.

Marilyn Brames of Fort Wayne won the adult category with crochet Halloween decorations she had made for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The trick was that she used plastic grocery bags to make the three-dimensional pieces.

And there was no pattern.

“I started with the cat’s head,” said Brames, 82. “If I couldn’t make it look like a cat, there was no point in doing it.”

This was nowhere near Brames’ first time recycling unneeded household items. She held up her purse, which at first glance appeared to be a pretty, straw, beachy tote. But no – that was made of plastic bags too.

She estimated that it took about a year to make the cat, the pumpkin and the skull, but she would work on them a bit at a time with one eye on the television. The actual crochet doesn’t take very long, she said – it’s prepping the bags, which need to be flattened and cut into strips.

Todd Harmon, 13, entered the contest for the first time this year because he enjoys art projects, he said.

“I just took what I had, and I thought of things I could make,” said Harmon of Fort Wayne.

And the finished product? A watchtower, made mainly with circuit boards from old hand-held games. At the top of the tower, he attached an old CD, and he made insulation from straws and a speaker cover.

Harmon, too, finished first in his category.