Crafty couple, pix & tchotchkes

MIKE AND REBEKAH Luedcke expanded their photography business to resin products during the pandemic and had to rent a space in the Cedar Creek Settlement in Cedarburg to accommodate their new shop. (Lower photo) Rebekah Luedcke enjoys having her Forever Young Photography studio in downtown Cedarburg. Photos by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

Rebekah Luedcke has loved taking pictures her entire life and opened her own photography business right after graduating from Port Washington High School in 2001.

But her latest two endeavors came more as a surprise.

Rebekah and her husband Mike work well together in their original photographic pursuit, Forever Young Photography. Rebekah is the more artsy one and Mike is more technically inclined. After 17 years of marriage, they have developed hand signals to communicate during weddings.

When the shutdown due to the pandemic hit, however, their shutters nearly stopped clicking. The studio was closed since it was deemed a nonessential business. Weddings were not held or scaled down, and newborns weren’t having photos taken.

The Luedckes looked for something to do.

“For Christmas that year, we’re like, let’s do something fun,” Rebekah said.

They ordered a resin kit and started making pieces. Mike made items to hang from rear view mirrors in cars and other miscellaneous items sometimes called tchotchkes, and Rebekah made jewelry.

They posted photos of their work online.

“People kept asking if we were selling them,” Rebekah said. “I hadn’t planned on doing that.”

Their hobby turned into a business, and it started to grow. Mike, a longtime Dungeons and Dragons player, learned via YouTube how to make dice for the game. He now creates his own molds for the dice with a 3D printer and has sold dice internationally, including to someone in Norway.

Rebekah added hand-painted wooden jewelry, Christmas ornaments and resin blocks of dried flowers from people’s weddings to her repertoire. She even creates custom hanging pieces in which she tastefully incorporates drops of breast milk  or a pet’s ashes.

The next thing they knew their photo studio on the third floor of Cedarburg’s Cedar Creek Settlement was getting cramped after their new business, RESINstance is Futile, started taking off.

How to sell their pieces during the pandemic was still a challenge for the Luedckes and their friends. Craft shows, much like nearly everything else, were canceled.

“Everybody worked so hard on all these things that they make and now they don’t have a place to sell them,” Rebekah said.

She and a photo client-turned-friend started a Facebook page called Handmade Ozaukee, offering a space for crafters across the county to showcase and sell their wares.

The page, much like the Luedckes’ resin business, took off as well.

“We ended up building this artisan community,” Rebekah said.

Since starting the page in February, it has picked up more than 1,000 followers, showing the need for a place to sell people’s works, Rebekah said.

But it has become more than that. People seeking certain items or assistance with certain skills in crafting have found a home.

“It’s really built into this little group of people helping each other out. It’s been really fun,” Rebekah said.

The group held its first fair at Appleland Farm Market’s Sunflower Festival in September, and on Sunday, Nov. 20, it will hold a Country Christmas Market at the Stonehouse at Silver Creek with 20 vendors.

The Luedckes recently encountered a stroke of luck when the spot next door to their photo studio opened up. Rebekah immediately called the landlord and grabbed the space.

“It just felt like a door opening,” she said. “We can expand the photo studio to next door and have the jewelry store in there.”

She hopes to have the new spot ready for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26.

Rebekah has since started to expand beyond resin and wood. She likes to settle in with a cup of coffee in one of her workshops inside an enclosed porch at her old Victorian home in Port.

“I like to work with my hands,” she said. “For me, my painting is therapy.”

A creative career was a logical choice for Rebekah. She was about 6 when she got her first camera, a little rectangular shaped device called a 110.

“I used to cut off heads,” she said with a laugh. “Since then, I’ve definitely gotten better.”

Her father’s sales job led her family to move to Port from Connecticut when she was 10, and she developed her passion in Leonard Friede’s photography class at Port High.

“I really like capturing people’s emotions — the memories of it,” Rebekah said.

“When people look back at stuff, they always look at photos. They remember the day and laughing.”

She picked up entrepreneurial skills from her mother, who used to own Serendipity in downtown Port.

Rebekah started her business right after high school from her home and earned a graphic arts degree from Moraine Park Technical College. She moved Forever Young Photography to different places a few times before landing in the Cedar Creek Settlement last year.

“I really like being in Cedarburg’s downtown. It’s an artistic community so it’s very supportive of art businesses,” she said.

Mike is originally from West Bend and spends time on both businesses around his job in quality control at Charter Steel. Rebekah has given him a specific role to maximize his mechanical skills.

“I hand stuff to him, “I don’t know — fix it,’” she said.

Outside of work, the couple enjoy cooking and traveling across the country. They bought a camper last year.

Their 12-year-old son has already shown an interest in drawing and sculpting, and like most anyone, “he takes pictures with his phone,” Rebekah said.

Mike is a member of a new Dungeons and Dragons club at the Niederkorn Library in Port, and Rebekah gets together with friends to do crafts.

“Technically, it’s working,” she said with a laugh. “We like to eat tacos while we do it.”

For more information, visit and


Handmade for Christmas

The Facebook group Handmade Ozaukee’s Country Christmas Market runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Stonehouse at Silver Creek, W6505 Hwy. 144, Random Lake.

The event includes 20 vendors featuring holiday gifts ranging from kids’ clothes to pet accessories and jelly, jams and pies to jewelry, cups, cookies and candles. Face painting and balloon animals will be offered for children.

A food truck will offer lunch for purchase.

For more information, visit groups/687224762644665.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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