Updated: Jun 10
✦ CJ Grootenboer takes beautiful old objects and gives them a second life ready for a new home. Their stories can add to your story.
Originally from Sydney, CJ Grootenboer is a Coordinator of Performing Arts at a local school in Port Macquarie, spending a lot of time guiding and directing students in theatrical productions and teaching them how to present themselves boldly and with confidence to the world.
CJ is also a mother, wife and a visual artist (painting and printmaking) on the side. Plus she is an all new hubstar at Wauchope Creative Hub.
Repair, repaint and up-cycle to give objects a second life
The ability to visualise what a piece of furniture ‘could become’ is important. She told us, “Without that initial inspiration I wouldn’t have the impetus to start (and maybe finish) a piece.”
Simple woodworking, upholstery and power tool skills are important when upcycling, plus the ability to control and manipulate a brush is useful. “I wish I had more skills than I do, but I am trying to grow and build them all the time,” CJ said.
Favourite up-cycled project…
Every piece she does is a favourite. "I’m a bit of a recovering perfectionist, so I don’t like to send pieces out into the world unless I am completely happy with them," she said. "However, I think a pair of Jacobean lounge chairs that I found on the side of the road are one of my favourites."
A friend of hers told her to put them back where they came from, but she knew they had potential! “They were one of the first items that I completed, and I learnt how to replace woven raffia and paint fabric through upcycling them," CJ explained. "They now take pride of place in my lounge room and are sat on every day.”
A desire to up-cycle…
CJ’s first creation came about around six years ago. She always looked at pieces on the side of the road and wondered if she could do something with them, but was stopped by the thought that she would fail.
In 2014-15 she was treated for breast cancer. “When I came to the other side of that journey I just decided ‘Why not? Why not give it a go? What was the worst that could happen?” she told us.
CJ saw an old table on the side of the road that was warped and water damaged but had good bones so she decided to give it a go. It now takes pride of place in her hallway.
Why is it important to repair and restore?
“So many items from the past have been made so well from such wonderful quality materials," CJ explains. "People have spent time and energy to design and make them. It is so wasteful to simply throw them away when they could have another life with some repairs, a lick or two of paint and a little attention. Our throw away culture needs to be turned around. We need to value what we have and look at it through new eyes, rather than make more ‘stuff’.”
Where does she source materials?
A lot of items are given to her. People no longer can use them in their home and they would like to know that they will be passed onto someone who will value them. Other items CJ finds locally and very occasionally (although not as regularly as she used to) she finds something wonderful roadside on the kerb.