Saturday, December 4, 2010

One Man's Junk and Creative Treasures

It always amazes me to see the ideas people come up with in re-purposing junk for their homes and gardens.  It has really got me to looking at all the stuff around here with a different perspective which the gets me itchy to create things.  Most of the stuff that follows me home will eventually go to someone else some day but not this owl.  He was so brassy and gaudy when he was given to my husband I almost sent him to the scrap heap.  I'm glad I resisted that temptation and besides, being fans of "Clash of the Titans" he fits in real well around here now that he has weathered a bit.
Bubo the owl's cousin
Stuff is the way many of us live today...boxes and piles of stored stuff, rooms with doors shut full of stuff, garages full of stuff, rented store rooms packed to the top with STUFF!  Stuff collected, once used, even once adored and now out of sight and mind.  It is time to chip away at the pile, to take stock, to clear out the clutter and see what is next for all of it; will it go away or be blessed with a creative makeover to live a second life as something brand new.
Mailbox planter at my gate
If I had to explain what it means to see with a different perspective I guess it would be that I just ignore what the item used to be and take into account its form and the material its made of and start from scratch asking what it could become.  The possibilities are pretty amazing once you start looking at things this way.  How can it be torn apart to make something else out of?  Can it be repainted or stripped and left to rust?  What might it hold or hold up?  Can it be integrated with something else that is laying around to produce something we could actually use or maybe make it into an art piece?  So many options so little time.
A future planter
Sometimes re-purposing is as simple as placing a rusty old metal piece in a space that needs filling, where its form can be enjoyed for its sculptural value.  This jug almost got tossed out in a neighbors junk until I fell in love with it.

Ceramic stuff that I would never even think of putting in my home I love putting in the garden. (We can get away with a lot in our gardens.) This man in the moon is a good example.  My golden hops grows up around him every year and the colors play so happily together.  He has made it through several winter freezes so it will more than likely be someone hitting him that will bring him to his end.  That will be sad day for sure.
Sometimes I have no idea what the heck it is but I can see what it will look like in a certain setting.  Such was the case of this metal piece that hangs on my back fence...and it fit perfectly too!  I love when that happens.
Fences make great walls to decorate.
Other times its like the time I found an old hanging captured glass light that is too ugly to use as a lamp any more.  It was sort of ugly, dark amber blown glass, very Gothic, very depressing looking but I loved it for some reason.  It sat on my back deck for a whole year before I realized what it was I really loved about the darn thing.  I was about to give it away to a friend and suddenly it hit me..duh, break the glass.  In no time I had had freed my metal globe from its bondage as a hanging lamp.  It was quite a steal too at $1.00 at a local rummage sale.  Now I needed an application for it in the garden.
For less than $4 and some welding
It seems that timing is so important in things coming together sometimes as about that same time I found one of those inexpensive painted steel patio torch holders at a deep discount at a local store.  SCORE!   That meant for less than $4.00 came up with a great globe trellis for annual vines.  Inspiration met opportunity and poof!  A trellis is born. Granted knowing someone who can weld doesn't hurt either.  My husband does my welding and I would love to learn how but have resisted for fear of it causing me to horde more metal than I do already. 
Copper torcher turned on its head...Wa la!  Sculpture!
You just never know what you will find to fit a need in the garden.  Metal screens can make a real statement and help to keep plants from flopping over on smaller neighbors.
Wall art finds new life as a functional screen
They also make good barriers to keep cats out of the raised beds...a fence of sorts.
Aluminum railing works as a fancy fence piece

I also cruise the seasonal clearance tables at local department stores and find a lot of fodder for projects there sometimes.  These wire cats used to be the homeliest looking things, dull black with gold splattered on them and beady little eyes...very sad.  So sad looking that no one bought them...and lucky for me.
The original eyes were beady little things
When they came on clearance I snapped up as many as I could find.  I had this idea that they just needed a little dolling up...and I was right.  A little paint, glass eyes and they became a huge hit.  I had plenty for my garden, enough to give some as gifts and some to sell which made a tidy profit.
Happy cats for the garden
The little bees that dress my fence posts were actually Christmas tree ornaments I bought on clearance.  When I saw them I was drawn to their design but almost immediately saw them as the perfect adornment for my fence posts proving once again its all in how you look at something.  If I like it but not how its being used I just think of how I can use it.  Simple as that.  Our fence is going to be replaced in the near future so I am going to have to think of another life for these little guys.  Maybe I can make tree jewelry out of them...a little paint, some wired on beads.  I kind of like that idea.
Little bees adorn the fence posts
Planters are very fun to make from re-purposed items.  I saw something today where someone took an old metal file cabinet, removed the drawers, stood it up on end, painted it and and made a minimalist planter out of it.  GENIUS!  Now why didn't I think of that?  To look at it you would have never known.  It seems every year its a new planter idea for me.  This year it was a $10 basket from the thrift store and a metal stand from a yard sale.
I knew exactly what I would do with the basket the moment I saw it.
A friend of mine used to work for a plumbing supply store gave me this cobalt blue bidet, made in Italy which was very expensive originally.  Since she had two of them and saw that I liked the color a lot she gifted me with one for my garden.  How could I refuse? I saw so much possibility and the base was cobalt blue after all. I tried a number of different plants in the darn thing and then found Sedum 'Ogon' looks gorgeous with that cobalt blue.  It just so happened about that time I purchased the elf head and feet and it is one of the most talked about things in the garden these days.  Yes I know I's porcelain and a toilet but this one works as whimsy is a big part of re-purposing stuff and the holes for the plumbing don't show.  You have to be very careful to avoid tacky when using porcelain items.  I guess I just got lucky.

George the garden troll in his spa tub
Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

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  1. Wow, I love re-proposing finds for the garden. You have the eye for it though. I love the things you have used around in your garden. Fun uses Patty. I am glad I ran across your gardening blog. You must come on over to Blotanical and join all of us gardeners.

  2. i am a HUGE repurposer! love your ideas. my husband sometimes doesn't get it til he see's it, but then he is like "Aha!!"

  3. I love your garden ideas. Iam accused of not being able to go any where even a walk and not bring something home to use for some project I have in my mind. You I think would be a great friend!

  4. I just LOVE the elf bathing in the sedum! Will have to find a way to use some sedum as "bubbles" in my garden. Just love it!

  5. Can you tell me where you got the adorable elf? You are very creative!

    1. I found it at a thrift store and have looked for others like it and can't find any online or in shops. Got lucky. And thx for the kind words.