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Originally published March 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM | Page modified March 30, 2013 at 10:16 AM

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Yard art is in the eye of the beholder

Seattle Times readers generously submitted photos and stories of their own version of “Junk Meets Yard” — works of odds, ends and just downright trash turned into objects d’arts — following a recent article by EcoConsumer columnist Tom Watson.

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Salmon run

I have enjoyed the works of Claes Oldenburg and Christo. When we bought our house the only thing left in the garage was a fish mold. One day I had the idea our garden needed some art besides just flowers and herbs. Great gardens always have some form of art work. I started collecting more fish molds at yard sales and thrift stores. Most of the people who see the fish-run fence get a chuckle and say what a great use of fish molds. They are just lost SOLES searching for the river of life.

Octopus furnace

The heat exchanger was part of an 85-year-old octopus furnace in my Capital Hill bungalow. The furnace was removed during a basement-remodeling project several years ago. I immediately saw the potential as yard art. My partner, however, did not share my enthusiasm for locating a 400-pound piece of rusted metal in the garden. But he eventually agreed, and with the assistance of our neighbor, secured the heat exchanger in our garden with concrete and rebar. Whenever I have a backyard gathering, the exchanger/garden ornament becomes a focal point of conversation. Most people believe that the piece was commissioned as an art sculpture. Very few are able to guess its origin.

Radio Flyer flower wagon

The wagon was purchased for my son for his first birthday 25 years ago. My wife couldn’t part with it when he moved on. It was her idea to plant flowers in it and place it in our yard. She also tasked me to create something whimsical to go along. Thus the bird. The body of the bird is a standard round-point shovel. The wings, a saw blade. The beak is two garden trowels and a twisted piece of scrap metal for the tongue. The plume, a garden cultivator. The eyes, metal washers. All were either broken or worn beyond good use. The legs and feet are scrap rebar remnants collected from a construction site. Neighbors and friends are on the lookout for materials for me to use, challenging my creativity.

Mold totem

When my grandma moved from her longtime home into her current assisted living retirement home, she needed to downsize. I was able to claim these various Jell-O molds that I remember always hanging in her kitchen. I created a totem for the garden that I can look at everyday and think of grandma! I looked the molds up on eBay to make sure that I wasn’t going to be drilling into anything that had a high value. I bought a 5-foot length of copper pipe and drilled holes with the help of my husband. There are five Jell-O molds and I used additional copper hurricane-lamp pieces, also from my grandma.To hold them in place, I used copper-pipe clamps at the top and bottom. I can take this apart and reassemble or add to it if I want. It is a bright spot in the garden all year long.


The fan-turned-hummingbird feeder came from a friend’s garage when she was moving. She was taking “junk” to Goodwill and she asked me if I wanted anything to repurpose in my garden. I immediately fell for the dirty fan. It gradually came to me to turn it into a feeder and I got help from a man from a hardware store to attach it to a pole. I already had the glass globe hummingbird feeder and it fit perfectly into the middle of the fan.

Sunken sink

The sunken-sink idea came from a salvage company in Seattle called Earthwise. They have displays of junk turned into garden ideas. The actual sink came from another salvage company, called Second Use. To put the sink in my garden, I took off all the old plumbing underneath, leaving the drain hole free. I then lined the bowl with weed cloth so the dirt wouldn’t be washed down the drain with rain or watering. It is delightful to watch people stop and exclaim when they see the sink.

Sherry Edwards, Des Moines



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