Ready for a New Dumpster Diver House Tour? Meet Ellen Sall

A major perk of hosting our  Unexpected Philadelphia  website is that we get to run happily amok – with cameras in hand – through the homes and studios of our fellow Philadelphia Dumpster Divers,  that merry band of artists who have played,  exhibited and produced witty,  found-object art together since 1992.

So when “Dumpster Diva” Ellen Sall invited us to photograph her South Jersey home last August,  we had our beach clothes packed before the phone call ended.

17_02_22-1-ellen-sall-dc_6644“You expect us to drive all the way to the Jersey shore?  Can we come today??”

BEADED  BEGINNINGS

Ellen and her mom,  Bernice Rosenfeld,  began making beaded jewelry together in the early 1980s,  under the name “By Bernel”.  By the mid-1990s,  Ellen had struck out on her own,  making Fimo clay earrings and pendants that incorporated objects like beads and her own watercolor drawings.

17_02_22-2-ellen-sall-dc_6564Ellen and husband Robert Sall in the living room of what she calls their “HOE” house – “Heaven on Earth”.

She also manipulated wire to create everything from menorahs to miniature chairs.

BORN   AGAIN   LAMPS

Then,  one day,  she fashioned a larger chair from found objects like pots,  pans,  an electric fan and a light,  and christened it her “Electric Chair”.   A brand new business – Born Again Lamps – was launched.

17_02_22-3-ellen-sall-studio-cm_9015Ellen at the entrance of her  Born Again Lamps  studio in Philadelphia.  That’s her “Tea for 2…6, 8, 10” lamp  (complete with a hat-box shade)  at left, and “Espresso Yourself” at right.

Soon she was exhibiting at the Philadelphia Furniture Show and at the Art Rider holiday craft show at New York’s Park Avenue Armory.

17_02_22-4-ellen-sall-lampsLamps just wanna’ have fun:   At left is a piece from Ellen’s “Phoney” series,  shown above a lampshade crafted of jewelry,  trinkets and stitches on wire screen.  At right is “I Can’t Make Up My Mind”,  with her lighted,  color-changing hat.

Before long,  an Ellen lamp appeared in Elle Decor,  Delta Sky magazine did a feature on her,  and people like Sally Jessy Raphael,  Reem Acra and Christopher Lowell bought her work.

KEEPING  US  IN  STITCHES

For beach days when her studio power tools are not handy,  Ellen works with bead collage,  embroidery  and gel pens on photographs, found objects and old linens – a process she likens to creating stream-of-consciousness graffiti.

17_02_22-5-ellen-sall-artAt left is an embroidery in progress.  And,  yes,  the beaded rat trap at right is actually worked on a real Victor rat trap.

THE  TOUR  STARTS  HERE

So,  click here to join our Unexpected Philadelphia photo tour of  Ellen’s art-filled home and studio.

As always,  when you arrive at our website,  you can click on any thumbnail photo to page through larger versions of all the photos.    You’ll also see a scrollable caption under each photo if you’re on a non-mobile device like a PC or laptop.

17_02_22-6-ellen-sall-studio-dc_2098Ellen in her light- and fun-filled space at the Mill Studios,  in Philadelphia’s Manayunk section.

Enjoy!

Kate & Dave

 

 

Happy Holidays….We’ll See You Soon!

Merry Christmas,  Hanukkah,  Kwanzaa,  and/or New Year’s to all — and welcome to everyone who recently subscribed to our blog.

SO,  HEY – WHERE  DID  WE  GO?

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After batting out a record number of blog posts and photos during our pre-election window campaign,  we decided to take a holiday break to drag out the old Christmas tree,  whip up a spectacular Christmas feast (okay,  so we actually ordered it pre-cooked from Wegman’s – we know our limits!),  and play in our art studio.

DON’T  MISS THOSE  HOLIDAY  LIGHTS

We’ll be back in late January,  but don’t miss South Philadelphia’s great holiday light shows if you haven’t toured them already — next week’s weather will be perfect for strolling…

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Flip the Script (Part 4): Beat the Election Blues, Dumpster Diver Style

Over the past several posts, we’ve told you about our new South Philadelphia window display,  a do-it-yourself remedy for the pre-election blues….

16_10_21-1-vote-tasker-side-dc_8280Twenty-eight smiling artists light up our windows at E. Passyunk & Tasker to remind you that the apocalypse isn’t quite here yet.

And,  yes,  regular readers of our  Unexpected Philadelphia  blog and website might recognize a few familiar faces…..

16_10_28-3-window-dumpster-diversSay, haven’t I wandered through your living room?

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Election Year Blues: Help Us Flip the Script!

This year,  we struggled with finding a new topic for our annual holiday window display.

We’d already displayed photos of our South Philadelphia neighbors and of local celebrities from the 1960s….

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What was left?   South Philadelphia restaurant owners?    Current local celebrities?    Favorite Philly athletes?   (Way too controversial!)

But one topic kept intruding in our heads.

ELECTION  STRESS  DISORDER

Like many people,  we’ve been beaten down by the soul-draining divisiveness in the country this year.

Violence.    Name-calling.   Corruption.   Terrorism.   Racial and religious divides.   Following the news – particularly the election news – you’d think that the country and the entire human race were sliding down that greased pole to hell.

16_10_02-2-kate-newspapers-dc_8245“Uhm,  Dave,  do you have the comics?”

 And,  yes,  it even has a name:   Election Stress Disorder,  and everyone we knew had symptoms.

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It’s Dumpster Diver House Tour Time: Meet Susan & Patrick Moloney

A major perk of belonging to the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers – that merry band of artists who have played,  exhibited and produced witty,  found-object art together since 1992 – is that we get to hang out in the area’s most creative homes.

Today our  Unexpected Philadelphia  website takes you on another Dumpster Diver photo tour – this time to the inspiring home, studio, and garden of Susan and Patrick Moloney.

16_08_15 1 Susan & Patrick Moloney DC_3787Patrick and Susan Moloney with one of their ever-ready coffee makers

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Live from the Magic Gardens: Linda Lou Horn’s Cast of Curiosities

Linda Lou Horn always dreamed of becoming an artist.

So when the long-time nurse,  elder care activist,  and gestalt psychotherapist decided to radically change up her life at age 50,  she marked the occasion with a two-mile free fall from an airplane.

16_07_08 1 Linda Lou Horn DC_5561Linda Lou with “Going Nowhere Fast” in her polka-dotted dining room.

 Now the much-exhibited, found-object artist – whose art-and-imagination-filled home we profiled last summer – has landed in a one-woman show at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens through August 28. Continue reading

A Return to the Garden: Michael Martin Mills & Randy Dalton

It’s been five years since we left the Jersey shore for South Philadelphia,  and we have only one regret.   And,  no,  it isn’t the loss of parking or even the beach,  which is always there waiting for us.

It’s our beloved garden,  complete with luscious Kwanzan cherry and Hinoki cypress trees,  bamboo,  river rocks,  dragonflies and those cheeky,  incorrigible weeds.

Fortunately,  we know people – and our blog gives us the perfect excuse to invade their Philadelphia retreats.

16_06_19 1 Michael Martin Mills Randy Dalton DC_8650Michael Martin Mills and Randy Dalton in their summer garden,  2015.

Last fall,  we introduced you to the magical, art-filled home and garden of Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Randy Dalton and his partner Michael Martin Mills. Continue reading