Emily Reese and Alex English are the creative duo behind Rust44. Their company is dedicated to taking the used and often mundane, and converting these items into functional works of art.
Reese describes Rust44’s focus as providing the community with “repurposed found objects that are customized to create new things.” Her fondness for her work is evident in the details. Rust44 offers housewares of a uniquely binary nature, combining both industrial and artistic elements to create a rustically whimsical aesthetic in their products.
“Art and function,” Reese calls it.
Reese is a painter by profession, with a background in design and art. English is a mechanic and fabricator. His shop Old English Metalworks specializes in building motorcycles and is the main space from which the pair works to build Rust44 products.
Outside of simply creating beautiful pieces, Rust44 is inspired by waste reduction. As all of its products are made from reclaimed items, Reese and English hope to inspire in others their philosophy of recycling.
“We have such a problem with trash in our culture,” Reese admits. She stresses a personal awareness of the struggle with waste and how that has inspired much of the philosophy of Rust44: “There’s a funny paradox that happens when you have a company that sells these things to people but it’s hard to let go of them. So I get to be this weird medium.”
There is an element of care involved in choosing their projects.
“I’ve always liked using things that would have been thrown out,” Reese said, “things [that] have a personality to them.”
Reese and English have a way of extracting an object’s personality within their work. They currently offer a table lamp made from an antique screwdriver, a standing lantern made from a vintage 1950s salon hairdryer, and Reese-original watercolors framed in reclaimed metal.
Sacramentans are no strangers to yard sales and free furniture on the side of the road. Dreams of transforming these old treasures into Pinterest-worthy pieces are often lost on the time and energy it takes to do so. This is where Rust44 steps in. Not only have Reese and English created their own inventive works of art from pre-owned and often antique pieces, but they also offer personally commissioned works as well.
Reese discussed how one of Rust44’s patrons discovered the company while Reese and English were at Sierra Stakeout, a motorcycle gathering near Emigrant Gap. She marveled over one of English’s motorcycle builds and soon after purchased a large hutch from Rust44, refurbished by Reese. She has since been one of several customers who have commissioned custom work from Rust44, ranging from an antiqued dog kennel to a buffet/wine bar and several paintings.
Rust44 is based out of Rancho Cordova and participates regularly in Northern California antique fairs and flea markets from Sacramento to Petaluma. There are several unique items for sale including one piece that Reese is particularly fond of: a mounted cow skull panel with a built-in lamp.
All work available for sale and more information about Rust44 can be found at their website rust44.com.
Photos provided by Emily Reese/Rust44