Norco crafter is Smithsonian bound

Escude’s Native American designs made of recycled materials will be featured at Living Earth Festival in Washington, D.C.

When the invitation came to display her Native American crafts made from recycled materials at the Smithsonian Institute’s Living Earth Festival, Stephanie Escude’ of Norco was in dismay.

“I thought I was dreaming,” the Norco woman said when she realized she was going to show and sell her work with the festival in Washington, D.C.

The invite was pure kismet, but Escude’ didn’t see it that way at first.

While in Marksville recently with her sister, who works with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and is a member, Escude’ met Carolyn McClellan.

The woman saw her work and invited her to bring her crafts to the National Museum of the American Indian’s Living Earth Festival July 17 – 19. But a month later, Escude’ still had not replied thinking it was a joke, or at least until McClellan pressed for an answer and then told her the invite included an all-expense-paid trip to Washington.

When McClellan turned out to be  assistant director of Community and Constituent Services with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Escude’ finally replied with a resounding, “Yes.”

McClellan also told her an estimated 30,000 people are expected to come to the three-day festival.This could be quite an attention-getter for her frugal creations.

“I’ve been a crafter a long time, but I started doing it seriously in about 2004,” said Escude’, who has been known to sell her items for a quarter or give them away on Education Day at local schools so all children could have a doll. “I don’t buy materials. All I have in it is my time and it was good to see the kids’ faces light up.”

Escude’, 56, who is part Tunica Indian, is determined to ensure no child feels he or she doesn’t have money so she asks teachers to identify the less fortunate ones to give them a grab bag of her crafts.

It’s a novel gift from a novel crafter.

Since developing her business named by her husband, “Crap into Crafts,” she has been turning people’s trash into treasures – literally.

“It’s exactly what I do. I take their trash that they want to get rid of and turn them into unique things,” she said. “I don’t waste any little scrap of anything.”

People have asked her if she’s a hoarder, but this unabashed recycler lightheartedly explains it away by saying everything is organized.

Others apparently agree because she routinely finds things left on her doorstep – anonymously. It comes from who she humorously calls “the craft angel.”

A bag of metal lids, old blue jeans, paper or 300 hot glue sticks have all recently showed up on her doorstep or slid into her mail slot just in time to be recycled into art.“Every day I wake up and I’ve got this new idea,” she said, which sends her running to her craft room.

In one of her flashes of inspiration, a round Tinker toy part becomes a doll head, bottle caps and Gerber baby food lids are turned into fleur-de-lis pendants or ornaments, jean pockets become a change purse and used curtains become dresses on dolls.

One of the necklaces she’s packing for her trip is  designs is made from old mini-blinds.

Even her business card is recycled from paper intended for scrap booking.

If she lacks anything for a design, Escude’ posts it on her Facebook page and it typically shows up on the doorstep. Followers also want to know about her latest creations, which she also posts.

Escude’ is frugal and giving.

“I’m just a little person who puts the craft stuff together,” Escude’ said. “I make people happy. I put smiles on people’s faces. That’s my goal.”

About Anna Thibodeaux 1967 Articles
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