Emily Lee Stehle/The Happiest Rabbit

Emily Lee Stehle is a mixed media fiber artist who has been three times an Emerging Artist. First with Florida CraftArt in 2017, second with the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in 2018 and 2021 for Creative Pinellas. She says she’ll never stop emerging as she sees inspiration every day for her art practice of transforming discards to fine craft art.

An ever-evolving creative basket maker for more than 30 years Emily is known for weaving baskets out of non-conventional materials taken from the trash can or found in the street. Her hope is that her art of discards conveys a message of our society’s excess consumerism and will have a positive impact on the environment.

Postcards, business rack cards. Junk mail. Pages from old discarded books and magazines. Anything that is at least six inches that can be cut into strips at least 6 inches. Plastic bottle caps. Metal beverage pop tops. The plastic sealers from Half and Half cartons. Plastic tags used to tie the plastic bag for bread. Anything that can be drilled.

Emily (and her friends) collect this stuff and weaves them together to make beautiful things…functional and non-functional art baskets, paper wall textiles and sculptures. Her work has been exhibited in shows throughout Florida and nationally (online) and won numerous awards at the National Basketry Organization, Florida State Fair and Florida CraftArt and works out of her studio at Studios@5663 in Pinellas Park.

Besides creating art out of trash, Emily, a journalist and marketing professional in her former “working” life, is a contributing writer for Arts Coast, the online magazine of Creative Pinellas. She enjoys playing the ukulele with her husband Mike as “2 Happy Ukers” and teaching uke and leading jams with “The Jamalong Gang” at the Safety Harbor Public Library. She says she is very happy, indeed when they play.

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