Joan Dulla

Written by Dolores Tropiano Category: Arts Issue: February 2013
Group Free


22K vessel spout

Joan Dulla never dreamed she’d make a living as an artist. That is, until she stumbled on an ingeniously literal way to cash in – by creating sculpture, jewelry and purses made from pennies, nickels and dollar bills.

The Chandler resident is currently showcasing her art at the 23rd annual Celebration of Fine Art in north Scottsdale. She is one of 100 artists selling and demonstrating their wares at the event, which runs through March 26.

Dulla, 62, was born in Connecticut and moved 14 times as a child. As the perennial “new kid” at school, she found comfort in art, creating pottery, jewelry and more that was all stolen one day from her classroom. “That was the first clue that I had some talent,” Dulla says.

Brass money bag

Dulla studied art in college and worked as a metal smith before finding a way to punch holes in coins and crochet them into art with copper wire. During a show in Boston, a customer made an offer Dulla couldn’t refuse. The woman had received a bail of shredded cash from her father as a wedding gift 35 years before. Her original idea was to create a table with it, but instead the pulverized wad of cash remained in her garage for decades. The woman offered the cash in exchange for one of Dulla’s coin purses, giving the artist “enough money to crochet for the rest of my life,” she muses.

Dulla has crocheted the cash into bracelets, earrings, sculpture and even rugs. The time-intensive art runs from $50 to $10,000. Check it out at or