Teacher turns upcycling hobby into small business

Aug. 24, 2018

Rick Warkenthien heads back to class this fall as a teacher of media design, web development and photography at Southeast Technical Institute.

His summers and other spare time, though, largely are spent on his hobby-turned business, Fresh Rust.

Warkenthien, who lives in Hartford, had a photography studio with his wife for 13 years.

“And we closed it up a few years ago, and that’s when I started doing more work in the woodshop and welding,” he said. “For the last four years, I’ve gotten more serious about it. It takes awhile to collect for repurposing and accumulate things you can work with.”

He creates wood and metal furniture, home decor, jewelry boxes, pens, cutting boards and candle holders.

He came to last year’s 605 Made Night Market as a customer, and this year will be one of 30 vendors with work for sale there. The free event is from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Cherapa Place.

“I was impressed,” he said. “The vendors were high quality.”

He has sold some pieces on Facebook but primarily sells through word of mouth and at shows. He has cut back on making coffee and end tables to save storage space but will bring a few to the Night Market, as well as home decor, kitchenware and gift items.

605 Made Night Market adds vendors in second year

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Teacher turns upcycling hobby into small business

He’s a teacher at Southeast Tech by day and a multitalented maker in his spare time.

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