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posted: 4/16/2013 6:00 AM

Harper students join forces in furniture rehab business

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  • Harper student Paul Fritz of Arlington Heights, left, graduate Victoria Claus of Arlington Heights and student Nick Kohler of Elk Grove Village work on one of their latest furniture rehab projects: an old trunk-turned-mini bar.

      Harper student Paul Fritz of Arlington Heights, left, graduate Victoria Claus of Arlington Heights and student Nick Kohler of Elk Grove Village work on one of their latest furniture rehab projects: an old trunk-turned-mini bar.
    Courtesy of Harper College

 
Submitted by Harper College

They met in a Harper College sculpture class and fueled their friendship as student aides in the college's 3-D art studio. They've now become business partners in a venture aimed at giving secondhand castoffs a new life.

The trio of scholarship recipients work together to creatively up-cycle old furniture, turning items such as defunct record player cabinets and broken-down work benches into functioning 21st century appliances and family-room-ready works of art.

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"We started this to expand our possibilities as artists," says sculpture student Paul Fritz of Arlington Heights, who stresses the group's earth-conscious attitude and notes profits go toward more art supplies. "This is funding our creativity, and that's really our goal: to keep learning new skills, applying old skills and all around enhancing ourselves as artists and individuals."

The business, dubbed Leftie's in a nod to the leftovers the team transforms, does custom work by request, and is displaying work at Harper's Studio V -- an on-campus, student-run boutique featuring art, jewelry and fashion from students, faculty and community members -- and selling finished pieces online.

"Being able to share our abilities and our talents and combine everything we've learned to come together as one -- that's really what I'm going for," says welding student Nick Kohler of Elk Grove Village. "We're able to make a lot out of very little."

Fritz, Kohler and their colleague Victoria Claus of Arlington Heights, a recent graduate, are quick to credit Harper for bringing them together.

"We credit Harper with almost all our success, individually and together," says Claus, a single mother who finished her sculpture degree with support from the college's Women's Program, citing helpful mentoring by professors and studio faculty.

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