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.