If you’re a regular reader of my Raising Jane blog, you’ve probably noticed some adorable little junk sculptures in our recent “farmgirl romance” photos. They’re the creations of Carol Hill, my magazine designer. (We’ve just finished our Feb/March issue, “Celebrating 15 Years,” and Carol’s designed every issue except for the Premiere issue!)
This fall, Carol discovered a passion for repurposing all kinds of found objects into unique works of art. Carol says her interest was piqued when she discovered that a woman in her ukulele group (another of Carol’s passions is playing the ukulele), Shelly Gilmore, made beautiful large-scale yard art out of old metal findings. (You’ll be able to see Shelly’s art in an upcoming issue of MaryJanesFarm.)
Carol asked Shelly to make her a front-porch railing and promised her that she’d supply the materials. So, off to yard sales, old barns, and friends’ shops she went, and in the process, discovered lots of smaller items that were just too interesting to pass up. She wasn’t interested in drilling and welding, but thought if she could just glue things together and keep her sculptures small, it would be a good hobby to do at the dining room table. An evening spent browsing “assemblages” on Pinterest, and she was hooked.
Carol had already “decorated” her 1971 VW Bug (retired now for a few years) with year-round permanent décor using 100% silicone sealant, so she knew that would be a good choice to hold together her creations. A quick trip to the hardware store for a few staples, and off she went on a brand-new adventure.
Carol says, “I’ve always been a collector of kitschy things—my house is filled with knick-knacks and antique treasures. But I have an offbeat sense of style, so I often see the beauty in things that others may pass right by. My junk sculptures give me a chance to use things that catch my eye, but don’t have much use on their own. In the sculpture above, for instance, I started with an old bottle that had been dug up in a friend’s garden (leaving the dirt intact), added a split walnut I found on a path here at the farm that reminded me of an owl (as well as its perfect heart-shaped interior) for a head, an antique button that I turned upside-down for a hat, an old rusty nut and washer for a neck and shoulders shape, two adorable old pink cup hooks for arms, a decorative butterfly for wings, a scrap of lace from MaryJane’s stash, a Bingo number I found somewhere, and two colorful beads from my jewelry box.”
“I call the girl above ‘Zaza Zen.’ She’s made from a little vase of a girl’s torso that I’ve had for years, set atop a cut-glass votive holder, and topped with a doll head I found at a garage sale. She’s decorated with a strip of red sequins with lace peeking out the bottom to cover up the transition from the bust to the candle holder, a strip of red ribbon from a Tibetan lama, a piece of beaded holiday garland, and a precious little beaded earring in the shape of a girl that I long ago lost the mate to. Her hat is an incense burner with a quartz crystal cluster on top.”
“This tiny guy (note the scale when you notice that his arms are replacement bulbs for mini Christmas lights) came to life when a friend, hearing of my new adventures, gave me the little knob that became a head. She said she had noticed it on a walk and admired its shape and age (it looks like an old Bakelite knob), but didn’t know what to do with it. I found a little bottle for a body, added more rusty nuts for shoulders and feet, and topped it off with a souvenir thimble from Cody, Wyoming, a wild bead, and a wooden star, and called him ‘Marshall Cody’.”
“I find that making these junk sculptures are the perfect pastime for me … they combine my love of precious old things and kitschy new things and don’t require a large chunk of time all at once—there’s a fair amount of waiting involved while you’re waiting for glue to dry before you can turn the pieces over to work on another side. After using my creative juices all day to design a magazine, I find I only have small increments of time that can hold my interest for other creative projects. But for now, I’m on a roll … in just over a month, I’ve made about 20 sculptures! Coming up next? I’ll have to build a running shelf around my living room to display them all!”