Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I sometimes refer to myself as the “Queen of Rust”. Maybe because I am a redhead and I am myself speckled with those little rusty dots called freckles, I love the reddish-brown color of oxidized metal, patinated and given character by seasons outdoors and the vagaries of weather.

My husband has brought me many treasures he has unearthed (well, run over with our large field mower!) in the fields of our old New England farm-- large metal hoops that hold spoked wheels together from old farm wagons, bits and pieces of old buggies, rust-pocked, holey old buckets, gears, etc. A friend of mine displays her finds in an artful collage on the white-washed interior wall of her old 3-storey barn. Mine adorn my woodland garden, brimful of ferns we transplanted from our woods, as well as astilbe, jack-in-the-pulpit, and trout lilies that hitchhiked along with the ferns. I stand the hoops upright, propped with river stones, where they make excellent garden sculptures.

I've lately been cleaning off and fixing up--in an Adirondack theme--the little screened porch attached to the end of our workshop, displaying stored treasures I've collected for years. I went on a barkcloth binge a few years ago and in a way, I'm glad I did as the stuff is hard to find in the older, silk-screened beautiful rough textures that I collected. On one of his mowing forays, Douglas crunched into a tangle of old wire and brought it back to show me-- it laid for years in a rusty pile next to the driveway. As I was cleaning up one weekend, I happened upon it and it struck me as how sculptural it was, just all randomly tangle-y and patinated by years of weathering. Now it will have a new home adorning the pasture outside my porch, suspended in a custom hanger made by my artisan blacksmith husband. Repurposing at its very organic best!

I have now met my opposite number in the love of all things rusty-- Ted. My friend, neighbor and super-photographer, Lyana and I were out-and-about looking for antiques one weekend not long ago and here was a sign “Barn Sale” that tweaked my interest-- my best finds have been made, not at pricey flea markets or antique malls, but in the downhome environs of old barns and sheds, the messier and less-organized the better. A quick u-turn later and we were met by Ted, a prop-master, uber-collector and hoarder extraordinaire, whose orangey stash was unmatched in my experience in both scope and quality. I will wax rhapsodic at length on his other good stuff in some later post (and boy is there a lot of stuff!)

As I was already in rust-mode I thought I would play a bit with patinas. I dug out some vintage findings I got from Jems Gems on Etsy and applied some green patina solution I've had hanging around for years. This stuff goes on in light layers and some time has to pass before you really see the results. Leaving everything overnight worked the best. I also tried another little technique over the patina, which I promise to reveal once I've worked it into something that produces consistent results. Adding to all this fabulous color in these photos are some chain and findings I got from the talented Shannon LeVart who is also an editor on the Art Bead Scene blog. She's just produced an e-book called Color Drenched Metals, and I've purchased a copy from her Etsy shop as well as several bottles of her excellent patina solutions. I've got gobs of vintage chain and I can't wait to see what I can do armed with her well-explained technique and my penchant for experimentation.