Discarded, antique, and miscellaneous items find new purpose in art objects

Marcella Massung, 90, has been creating art from found and discarded items for many years, working on projects daily.

Deena C. Bouknight Contributing Writer

Massung’s at-home shop is a treasure trove of her created, repurposed art. A stained glass class 17 years ago at Fire & Light Glass Studio led Marcella Massung to craft distinct collage type pieces. Timepieces are a common theme in her artwork. An old silver teapot becomes a decorative accessory sporting all sorts of miscellaneous elements.

Marcella Massung does not consider herself an artist. She has no formal training, but she “must” create daily and her innate artistic expression presents itself in ways she cannot predict. Her Treasures at-home shop is proof. Densely displayed are art objects galore – everything from wind chimes, to stained and fused glass, to decoupage, to clothing, to shadowbox collages, and more.

For many years Massung, 90, has envisioned a new purpose for discarded, old, cast-off items. 

What looks like organized chaos on the ground floor of her home is actually a series of work spaces: a sewing machine and stacks and stacks of fabrics in one area, kilns and paints and molds in another, and then miscellaneous and sundry costume jewelry, time pieces, small empty bottles, key chains, utensils, and much more in still another. 

“I had always done something crafty, even when my (five) children were small, like making handbags and sewing, and about 17 years ago I took some stained glass classes at Fire & Light Glass Studio (on Georgia Road). I just began to see something in the various pieces and then something new would come together. A silver teapot, for example, might not have a use because people don’t serve tea very often any more. So I decided to cover one with bits of lace and jewelry and beading … to give it new life and make it something that someone might want to decorate with.” 

Massung finds the pieces for her artwork at the Goodwill Outlet in Asheville, where customers can purchase by the pound, as well as at yard sales and flea markets. 

“I work on projects every day,” she said. “I have to … it’s a must. I might go to different stations and work a little bit on one thing and then a little on another, depending on what stage it’s in or if glue needs to dry. I like completing pieces, and some I really feel good about how they turned out.” In fact, if she likes the finished product, she said, “I feel a real sense of accomplishment.” 

Massung’s line of repurposed clothing might marry embroidered handkerchiefs with lace and crocheted elements. “They get a new life,” she explained. “And they are unique.”

One special piece is a large, folding, privacy screen on which she has decoupaged various historic letters, magazine clippings, business cards, receipts, and more mostly from the 1800s and 1900s.  

She has created shadow boxes and memory bottles and other items for people who might have a collection that they would rather not put away in a box. 

“It’s a creative way to display history and things that have meaning,” she said. 

As a half-century resident of Franklin, she has displayed her work in various shops downtown, but since her husband of 53 years died 20 years ago she transformed part of their garage into a store of sorts. Although she pointed out that one of her children has something of an artistic bent, Massung is hoping at least one of her 11 grandchildren or 14 great grandchildren or four (almost five) great-great grandchildren will carry on the making and selling of repurposed art, especially since she has enough of an inventory of elements to fashion many more pieces.  

Anyone interested in perusing Massung’s artistic creations at her Treasures at-home shop can call her at (828) 524-7578. 

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