When Alissa Sorenson put aside practice in photography and conceptual art to raise her three sons, she took up knitting as a creative outlet.

When Alissa Sorenson put aside practice in photography and conceptual art to raise her three sons, she took up knitting as a creative outlet.

"Knitting forces me to slow down. Otherwise I tend to rush things," she said. "But it never occurred to me to use it in art making."

Until a few years ago, when Sorenson received a spool of silk thread with a stainless steel core and started using it to knit small, light sculptural works. A selection of these, incorporating several varieties of wire thread and an assortment of found objects, hangs at Haiku in the show "Sacred Matter: Reliquary Boxes."

A visit to The Cleveland Museum of Art to see its current exhibition of religious relics and their role in the development of visual art inspired the collection, Sorenson recalled. The idea of creating small shrines to objects fit well with her habitual collection of things from random places.

"I'm a scavenger," she said. "If I see something that strikes my fancy, I collect it."

Each item chosen for Sorenson's reliquary treatment dictated the final form as she worked.

"I make decisions based on the moment, what I see in my head," she explained.

Among the objects enshrouded in Sorenson's handiwork is a rusted heart charm given to the artist by a friend's daughter. It's hung from a heavy chain in a shape suggesting an actual open heart.

A door fixture of mysterious origin found on a Clintonville street creates a center for a tiny, loosely defined house. In another piece, an empty cicada husk is encased in a shrine echoing the in-flight shape of the insect that was once inside.

"Because we infuse objects with our memories, we make them precious in our minds," Sorenson said.

Through her delicate, labor-intensive artwork, she hopes to transfer to viewers her own appreciation for the little, discarded things and highlight that transformation in relation to the keepsakes that each of us hold dear.