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Only In San Francisco: Christmas Tree Made From Credit Cards Delights Tourists, Neighbors

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Near San Francisco's world-famous Painted Ladies, a new work of art is turning heads this holiday season. A local artist has crafted a Christmas tree made from hundreds of recycled credit cards.

Tourists near Alamo Square Park have been snapping pictures of the tree, which is hanging from the front of a home on the 1200 block of McAllister Street. The tree is the work of Miguel-e Gutierrez-Ranzi, an artist who specializes in work made from recycled materials.

"Anything that you can imagine," Gutierrez-Ranzi said.

Gutierrez-Ranzi said he began working on the project shortly after Thanksgiving, working at night at his home, before bringing the tree out to surprise his neighbors and passersby.

Above the tree, Gutierrez-Ranzi placed garland interspersed with shopping bags, to represent what the credit cards buy. He also made a wreath for the front door, decorated with ornaments and high heels.

Credit Card Tree
Wreath made of Christmas ornaments and high-heeled shoes in front of Miguel-e Gutierrez-Ranzi's home in San Francisco. (CBS)

When asked if his display was a statement about consumerism during the holiday season, he said while many people have taken it as such, he was just inspired to make the tree.

Gutierrez-Ranzi said was able to get the old cards, which include expired gift cards and old hotel room keys, from friends and family. Some of the cards were from businesses that closed their doors years ago, such as Circuit City, The Emporium and Blockbuster Video.

Credit Card Tree
Artist Miguel-e Gutierrez-Ranzi shows off a Christmas tree he created out of hundreds of old credit cards that he placed in front of his home in San Francisco. (CBS)

Gutierrez-Ranzi has lived in the neighborhood since the mid-1980s and his work is not a surprise to longtime neighbors. In past holiday seasons, the artist has turned leftover materials into stunning displays.

When a Christmas tree lot couldn't sell some trees before Christmas one year, he brought them to the front of his home, making them made them community trees which people hung messages on. During another holiday season, he placed an inflatable snowman inside his home, visible from the front window.

"Some of them are elaborate," he said.

The retired set and costume designer is always working on a new project. Gutierrez-Ranzi hangs up new artwork in front of his home about every month, on other major holidays including Valentine's Day and the 4th of July, along with San Francisco traditions such as the Bay to Breakers and SF Pride in June.

He also creates displays for all kinds of occasions that strike his interest, from President Barack Obama's inauguration, the deaths of Princess Diana and Pope John Paul II, to the Oscars.

"I come up with ideas, I have to do them," Gutierrez-Ranzi said.

He showed CBS San Francisco numerous photos of creations he made over the years. Among them, a chandelier made from used liquor bottles, a totem pole made from obsolete electronics and CD's, to a sculpture made with currencies from around the world and issues of Money magazine.

"Sometimes I don't see it as garbage," Gutierrez-Ranzi said. "All these things can be recycled."

Gutierrez-Ranzi said feedback for his latest work of art has been positive. While the credit card Christmas tree hangs above his garage for the holidays, he is busy dreaming up new works of art for 2015.

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