Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Art of the Garden, Indoors...

I'm oddly fascinated by rusty old garden tools and have been collecting them over the years. Perhaps it's the combination of form and color that intrigues me along with the history and ware of each tool. These relics have clearly worked the earth while time and the elements have left their intriguing patina. I had a small stash of these old beauties stored away, found at garage sales and junk shops. So, when my aunt in Texas surprised me with a package of antique picture frames, the old tools resurfaced. I know it would have made more sense perhaps to fill my great-grandmother's frame with a painting or a pretty photograph, but the old rusty tools were calling! I could see the composition in my mind but was uncertain just how I would attach them in an artistic way. Luckily, JP was fast to help....


JP is a woodworker, so he hoards scraps of wood like I save bits of old crepe paper, trims and buttons. Cut to size, a scrap of bead-board made for the perfect backer. I mixed a batch of papier mache and coated one side, filling in most of the grooves of the wainscot and creating my own interesting texture.


I wanted to mimic the background of my green drip-painted wall so that the tools looked as if they were floating within this carved frame. Luckily I was able to match the hues to create the effect. We drilled holes and wove rusted wire up and over and around the various tools, securing them from the backside. I added a bit of whimsy to some, swirling and curling the wire as I often like to do.


Once complete, we hung this unusual composition on the wall, stepped back and marveled at its uniqueness. These old utilitarian tools remind me of the weary hands from the past and could each certainly tell a story if only they could speak. Where were they used, and what did they help to create, who used them and so on are questions that ramble through my mind. But, who would have ever imagined that these discarded tools would be hanging on my wall?! That's what I love about this story.


Many thanks to my Aunt Jeri for sending me this truly wonderful old frame which inspired this unusual project. The theme of bringing the garden indoors spurred other ideas as well, and soon, an old trellis quickly became a wall companion. While the wall decor was taking shape, I was excited to learn that I won a lovely garden-themed cone, gifted by artist friend, Nancy Malay. So, when her package arrived last week, I had just the spot for her creation. Thank you Nancy, it looks lovely here.

* Another angle of Nancy's garden-themed handmade cone...

Moral of the story is that the simplest of objects, long-forgotten from the past can find a new life, can create a stir in the imagination and a wonderment if seen from a different perspective. I always try to give these cast-offs a second chance and perhaps even a spot on my wall! I would love to read about what treasures you have created from old, commonplace items from the past. I welcome you to share in the comments section below.

~ Johanna

* © 2010 Johanna Parker Design *Photos are the property of Johanna Parker and may not be used without permission.


Faerie Moon Creations said...

Everything looks so lovely! I really like that garden art. It's perfect! And the Victorian cone is just beautiful - I love them so much and only just learned how to create them, myself. Thanks for sharing all the pretties! Theresa

Dixie Sargent Redmond said...

I love that! I'm wanting to step out of my decorating rut. And art rut. And laundry rut. ;-)

luluslovlies said...

That is very clever and cool idea, as I love re-purposed art. I just came back from the annual neighborhood yard sales with Deb from Possible Impossibilities Studio, we had a great morning of shopping, browsing and buying. We found many fun castoff treasures reasonably priced. What a great time we had. Thanks for sharing such a great idea for yard Art!

Johanna Parker said...

Oh, how fun! Wish I could have gone treasure-hunting with you :) Glad these ideas could offer some inspiration! Thank you all for stopping by!

~ Johanna

Rue said...

I love the primary colours of the tools, and their weathered look. They do look fab inside that frame and hung on the green wall!

Amber said...

Love the way this turned out, the colors are fantastic. Repurposed decorating is my favorite!

Birgit said...

Hi Johanna,

Thanks for the lovely email you wrote a while ago. I so appreciate your feedback on a second blog column! So far I haven't put a second one on my blog, but your blog layout is still tempting me. I finally blogged about the layout question on my blog and mentioned your blog there. I presume quite a few people will now check out your lovely artwork. :) I SO love your blog and artwork -- thanks for keeping us up to date about everything. :)

Greetings from Munich,

Nancy Lee Malay said...

Oh, Johanna, what a lovely display! I'm happy you like the cone, and leave it to you to use it in such a creative way!!

Happy Spring!


snippetgirl said...

OH, now that is my kind of ART! Eclectic and quirky and fun. I love it! Those garden tools are just adorable....the colors are perfect.
Thanks for sharing!