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Recycling with art sends yards back to the future

-  Outdoor art, especially repurposed pieces, can add interest to yard


Tom Boring dumpster dives. Terry Powers roots through junkyards and old estates. Lois Ingram saves gadgets from bygone decades. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Ingrams wagon wheel and milk jugs traveled from her 1970s farm to her yard in Forest Grove.

All three make art for the home and garden out of what might be thrown away if it hadn’t caught a creator’s eye.

Boring’s animals made from rejected odds-and-ends, Powers’ garden sculptures crafted from discarded metal and Ingram’s old treasures adorn yards and gardens big and small in western Washington County.

Gnomes, bird baths/houses, gazing globes, statues, carvings, trellises and knickknacks all bring life and color to yards even in the dreariest months.

Yard art is easier to care for than plants; it looks its best all year round; and it can last a lifetime. What’s not to love?

Powers, who lives in Sandy, sells his garden sculptures at Valley Art in Forest Grove. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Bill Campbell made use of a cedar snag in his brother Jim Campbell's 18th Avenue yard.

Using once-useful items, Powers, Boring and Ingram turn ordinary objects into décor.

Powers and Boring weld scrap metal and bits of junk together, creating sculptures and designs. More than 10 years ago, Powers put his welding skills to a more creative use when he made a few pieces for his wife out of scraps lying around. Now, he sifts through junk and once-useful discards looking for the missing piece to finish the puzzle.

Powers once used a bedpan for one of his sculptures, and Boring turned a speculum into a duck.

Not every item is so bizarre, though. Pipes become legs. Nuts and bolts become eyes. Lights become bug backs. Powers peruses junkyards, thrift stores, and estate sales to find the shell of his next turtle or the wing of his next butterfly.

Boring, too, sifts through scrapyards, but says a lot of people donate items, often leaving anonymous buckets of supplies on his doorstep.

Powers will throw a bunch of pieces on the floor and see what they come together to make.

Boring looks at a grapefruit spoon, for example, and sees a lobster tail.

They both admit they can barely draw stick figures, but when looking at oddments in a pile, faces, animals and shapely structures come to life.

“We’re recycling with art,” Powers said. “We give whatever it is a second chance.”

Ingram also transforms functional staples into art, but she only decorates her own yard. Statues, little concrete angels, birdbaths, benches, frogs and rocks collected throughout a lifetime have their own place in the yard. But the ornaments dearest to her heart weren’t made to be garden art at all.

Ingram, who owned and operated a cattle ranch near Roseburg for 10 years, enhances her Forest Grove yard and house with old farm equipment.

Her old ranch sign dangles from an arbor, a wooden wagon wheel sits against rusty milk cans on the patio, and bits and bridles hang on the shed wall.

“That was a wonderful time in my life,” Ingram said. “Most of these things are old now, just like me.”

These shards of past decades bring back fond memories when she looks out the window or sits in the yard.

Powers often creates sculptures for families out of deceased loved ones’ old tools or household items, repurposing them into sentimental home and garden centerpieces.

Art made from bits and pieces is hard to duplicate, but the lack of uniformity in outdoor décor is part of the fun.

“There are no rules,” Boring said. “I make them up as I go along.”

Garden art looks good almost anywhere and can be anything — a childhood swing still tied to an old apple tree, a rusty tool filling up the right spot, an eclectic collection of birdhouses.

With yard art, the rustier it is, the more paint chips it has, and the more moss-covered it is, the better. It all adds character.

“It’s usable, touchable art,” Powers said. “Children love it. Don’t worry about it; you don’t have to take care of it. Put it in your yard and enjoy it.”



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