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Ellicott City paint-it-yourself business offers ‘reclaimed’ local art projects

Ellicott City paint-it-yourself business offers ‘reclaimed’ local art projects
Jennifer Newcomb, left, owner of Reclaimed By You, runs a paint-your-own class in which participants use stencils on reclaimed wood to create artworks at her store on Main Street in Ellicott City. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

From an old tobacco barn to the living room wall, an art studio in Ellicott City is bringing new life to local structures while giving back to the community.

Opened in January, Reclaimed By You on Main Street brings wood and other materials “from salvage to sparkle” by partnering with local reuse warehouses such as Second Chance in Baltimore and Community Forklift in Hyattsville, where materials are sorted by people struggling to gain employment.

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“I had the idea that we could enable an entire ecosystem of good while having fun at the same time,” said Jennifer Newcomb, 41, owner of Reclaimed By You.

The studio offers bring-your-own-alcohol event nights as well as open art times when customers can come in to create their own project.

Painters select their unique “canvas” from a collection of wood pieces that have a tag on back noting where the material was found.

Ruthie Mundell, of Laurel, grew up in St. Mary’s County and was thrilled to find a piece of wood from an old tobacco barn from near her home. She used it to create a hand-painted sign for a childhood friend’s birthday.

“It was perfect and meant for me,” said Mundell, who works at Community Forklift and is also a customer at Reclaimed By You. “It’s such a unique and inspiring business where people are really creating connections and truly being a part of something local.”

Projects include wooden signs, bottle openers, mason jar holders and picture frames among other creative items.

For Newcomb, who opened her shop at the end of January, finding employment after an extremely difficult period in her life was more than challenging.

She just celebrated one year in remission from stage 3C breast cancer after aggressive treatment.

“I’m not physically capable of working in an average work environment or in an office setting and had lost my job because I was out of it for too long,” Newcomb said.

Ruth Smith pulls up the stencil to reveal a painted design on a block of reclaimed wood, during an art class at Reclaimed By You, on Main Street in Ellicott City.
Ruth Smith pulls up the stencil to reveal a painted design on a block of reclaimed wood, during an art class at Reclaimed By You, on Main Street in Ellicott City. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

This struggle made her want to do her part to help others also having trouble with employment as well as find a job they enjoy.

“I don’t think that cancer happens for a reason, but having something life-changing happen to me allowed me to consider changing my path in life. I don’t think I would have done it otherwise and I’m so very happy to be able to do something that I love,” Newcomb said.

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