When it comes to art, New Baden woman is on the cutting edge

News-DemocratJuly 28, 2013 

Ruthann Daiber never saw a saw she didn't like.

Her New Baden home is a showplace for more than 400 saws painted with everything from peaceful landscapes to Dalmatians at a firehouse.

"I didn't think I would ever get this far," said Ruthann. "I always figured if I got to 300 I'd quit. Now I have 400."

Ruthann, 72, began collecting saws a decade ago when she picked up one with a country landscape painted on it at a craft show at Wesclin Senior High School in Trenton. The blades haven't stopped spinning in her mind since, and her passion for collecting saws quickly spread to Charles, 76, her husband of 52 years.

Both Ruthann and Charles are retired. Charles worked in the trucking industry. Ruthann was a stay-at-home mother and spent 15 years in the home care business, caring for elderly people, before she began looking after her grandchildren.

The saws that fill the exterior and interior walls of the Daibers' home come in all shapes (large round circular saws to long thin saw blades) and sizes (from a 3-inch saw with tiny trees on it to a 5 -foot-long one painted to resemble the American flag).

The Daibers have 165 painted saws hanging in their kitchen. Ruthann constantly rearranges them when she adds a new one to her ever-expanding collection. "I never keep them in the same place," she said.

Many saws carry sentimental meaning.

Take the three Labrador dogs on a blade hanging in the kitchen, for example. She had the saw specially made to depict her son's, son-in-law's and daughter's dogs, which have died.

Ruthann calls the bathroom off the kitchen her "animal room." Its saws show a variety of animals including deer, fish and ducks.

The Daibers pick up saws at craft shows, antique sales and flea markets in the area and on trips out of state.

"They do a lot of antiquing," Patty Daiber, of Albers, said of her parents.

"You never know where we will show up and buy a saw ..." Ruthann said. "If I go somewhere and like it, I buy it."

They have saws from Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee and as far away as Alaska.

As the collection has grown, Ruthann admits she is getting "more choosey now ... I just want different kinds."

Ruthann enjoys finding uniquely-shaped saws.

"They are all different shapes. I like the variety of saws," she said. "Anytime I see a saw that's different I have to have it even if it's not painted."

Several of these "empty canvases" have been painted by her grandchildren. They include a large circular blade with a picture of the Daibers' home.

Her collection includes a chain saw blade, a lawn mower blade, two-man saws, hand saws, circular saws, ice saws, concrete saws and a saw from an old-fashioned sidewalk edger.

One of the unusual saws was painted blue, then a train was etched into it.

Some of the saws aren't even saws. They are pieces of wood cut into circular-saw shapes with images painted on them. They were a bargain for $1 each at a Goodwill store.

Ruthann has 10 or 11 functional clocks made of saw blades.

Other saw blades have pictures painted on both sides. "When I want to switch them around, I do," she said.

Ruthann has spent from $1 up to $75 for a saw. Charles said his wife can be a "cheapskate" when it comes to getting a good deal.

A saw doesn't have to be in pristine condition for Ruthann to buy it. She finds someone to fix broken handles or craft new handles when needed. Several of her saws are missing the very end of the blades.

The Daibers have four children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Their daughter Patty described the painted saw collection as "unusual.

"We know when they take a trip they'll come home with some," she said. "We'll ask, 'How many did you get this time?'"

They once came home from Tennessee with seven saws.

Ruthann picks out the saws she wants -- sometimes with help from the grandchildren. Charles is in charge of hanging them after she finds the ideal spot for each.

The Daibers' home was part of the Clinton County Amazing Race in 2009. Racers had to count how many saws they had on the exterior of their home and in their yard. The number at that time was 71.

"It's what they both enjoy," said their oldest daughter Susie Oestringer. "It's become challenging to find something new."

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