Elevating humble things


2011OctNov_Homeward_OddballStuff_02Who hasn’t rescued something from the rubbish bin certain they can repurpose it, only to have the unfinished project sit in a back closet making them feel foolish?

Or is this a personal issue?

In any case, DeWayne Lumpkin of Grants Pass is a guy who gets the job done. He finds oddball stuff and reimagines and reworks it into wondrous objects for sale. Like the old car jacks he turned into adjustable lamps. Or the vintage nautical flags that became graphic throw pillows. And the discarded British bus route signs that gained new life as upholstery fabric.

2011OctNov_Homeward_OddballStuff_01Bus fronts now display routes in LED lights but decades ago each stop was printed on long rolls of sturdy cotton cloth, and hand-cranked in place.

“I have a source in England,” Lumpkin says. “His mom and dad drove the bus routes all their lives.”

Lumpkin uses the white-font-on-black fabric on chairs, ottomans and pillows. He’s framed some and even created a line of Shespoke clothing. Since that first score 12 years ago, he’s bought bus route fabrics from the U.S., China, Australia and Canada.

2011OctNov_Homeward_OddballStuff_03“You are taking very humble things that have utilitarian purposes and you are elevating them,” he says of repurposing objects. “There is something amazing to me about taking a scroll from a bus and hanging it on a wall as art.”

Lumpkin studied film at California College of the Arts & Crafts and brings an artist’s eye to his work. He sells his items at his Home Economics shop in Grants Pass, Thea’s Interiors in Portland, and online sites. He’s also helped furnish retail shops, restaurants and hotels.

So what’s his next bright idea? Lumpkin recently bought 460 rustic tomato plant cages. He’s already made and sold a dozen pendant lamps. “I don’t look at things and see what they are,” he says. “I look at them and  imagine them as they could be.”