Monday, November 24, 2008

Seller Spotlight: Retired Records | The Fashion Dungjen

Though I didn't grow up listening to vinyl records on a regular basis - I did throw a few on the record player at Grandma's house at Christmas every now and again - it doesn't mean I'm a total stranger to them.

Before my parents moved, my dad's closet was full of old records - they stretched across the floor and took up most of his top shelf. I never appreciated them for what they were, but what little kid does?

For at least two children, records are a little different.

"My [two] kids always see what I'm making and say 'I want one!' so I always have to make something for them to
wear to school," said Karen Dengler, the artist behind's Retired Records.

(For now her kids still think Mom makes them awesome jewelry just because they ask; when they hit their teens they'll probably start scheming and hit her up for money for all the free advertising.)

Karen takes old - donated, found, thrifted or purchased - records and turns them into art. Usable, functioning art. From necklaces to soap dishes, purses and containers, Karen creates it all.

Aside from her part-time day job as a social worker at New Perspectives in Deaconess Hospital in Cincinnati, she uses art to keep her balanced.

"Creating art has always been a part of my life," Karen said. "I feel that I've learned a lot about myself through creating; it keeps my mind sharp. I love problem solving and feel a sense of satisfaction when I complete a project. It's visually rewarding [and] different from the social work I do. I have instant gratification."

Karen opened her store in August 2007. Since then, she's had some success locally while also selling items internationally.

"I do get some local support," Karen said. "But it seems in general that my style is a little to contemporary or modern for the majority of the population here in Cincy ... I have a repeat customer that lives in Iceland. To me, that is totally cool that someone found me and is wearing [or] displaying my art in another country that I would probably never get to."

Once she even received a custom order request from a woman in England; she wanted a Superman laptop carrier for her boyfriend.

"When she got the bag she sent me a message that said something like, 'You could probably hear me squeal all the way from the [United Kingdom],' " Karen said.

The different items and designs in Karen's collection are inspired usually by the records she has to work with; currently she's working with albums from the 70s integrating the bright colors of the decade into her work.

Though she works with vintage designs and colors, Karen also looks to designers like Charles and Ray Eames for modern lines and contemporary inspiration.

Karen earned a Bachelor's of Fine Art from Ohio University and her Master's degree from the University of Cincinnati. She sells her art on at, RetiredRecords, and in local stores NVISION and Originalities.

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