Archives for posts with tag: Sculpture

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Hand-made blue rice-gathering basket from Tibet. Made from bamboo and reeds

Rayann’s Creative Instinct is a store in the village of Saugerties in NY. It is chock-a-block with antiques from the Hudson Valley, a rural region of New York State, about 100 miles north of NYC.

The owner, Rayann Fatizzi has decades of experience procuring vintage furniture, decorative tchotchkes and antique sculpture from local sources and overseas. She also creates unique jewelry and pictures from recycled trinkets, fabrics and graphics. Here in the Hudson Valley, vintage items and historical artifacts are used as decorative items in gardens – there is a unique Hudson Valley style.

Garden Sculpture

I love sculpture in the garden because it provides interest even when the flowers and plants die back in the Fall. It provides a focal point in areas where it is hard to grow plants, such as dry shade.

In the winter  protect outdoor sculpture from the severe weather and low temperatures (click here for advice) or bring it inside.

This marble statue of a smiling monk is from Tibet.

A sculpture of Buddha

A stone sculpture of the head of Buddha. The stone contains marine fossils and is very heavy!

Head of Buddha – a calm presence in the garden.

Baskets and Containers

Vintage basket made from corn cobs hanging in the window of the shop

Vintage basket from New Hampshire hanging in the window of the shop.

This basket includes two rows of dried corn cobs. Rayann noted “This is a rare basket, I’ve never seen one like this before”.


Perfect for your garden tools – a hand-made wooden tool caddy.

Use wooden boxes and containers for garden storage or display as decorative items.

Gorgeous hand-carved wooden 'baskets' with smooth finish

Gorgeous hand-carved wooden rice gathering baskets from Tibet

Garden Furniture

Rocking Chair

Rocking Chair

According to Rayann “This Shaker rocking chair is over 100 years old, originally from Massachusetts. The basket is an apple gathering basket from a local farm in the Hudson Valley.”

The wooden rocker is a traditional piece of furniture on a porch. I love the faded zigzag woven seat and back.

Dark blue mini cabinet with drawers

Dark blue mini cabinet with drawers

Rayann provided some interesting history “This piece was hand-made by a gentleman in Kingston who repaired lamps. He worked in his home-shop. The drawers were made from vintage cheese boxes.”

For the gardener, this tiny cabinet could hold small tools, packets of seed and all those snippets of string and twine.

Vintage couch made from bamboo

Vintage couch made from bamboo

Relax in style! This beautiful bamboo sofa would look lovely on an enclosed deck where it would be protected from the elements. Rayann told me it came from the estate sale of a woman who collected Asian furniture.

Vintage Pepsi drinks cooler

Vintage Pepsi drinks cooler

A little rusty, but still brings back memories of happy summer days – this Pepsi drinks cooler could be refinished to it’s original paint scheme or left as is, depending on your preference.

Garden Lanterns

Pretty painted lantern

Hand made painted lantern with pressed glass side panels. Shabby Chic!

Light up your yard during the warm evenings of summer and fall.

Red oil lanterns

Red oil lanterns

Railroad workers used these red oil lanterns to send signals. (There was a huge rail system in New York State because people and goods traveled to and from NYC by rail. The system was dismantled in the 1970’s and now only two routes remain. Many of the routes were converted into ‘rail trails’ for walking)

Rayann mentioned “These lanterns are great for camping. In the summer people put them on their porches or hang them from a shepherd’s crook in the yard”.  Take a look at Jill Ruth’s wonderful blog for inspiration (below)

vintage oil lantern and galvanized tank used as flower bed

Vintage lantern as garden accessory. The large galvanized tank is a ‘raised bed’ planted with pretty annual flowers, cleome and african marigolds.

Tin lantern, country syle

Tin lantern, country style

Add a candle or tea-light to this tin lantern and enjoy a peaceful evening outside.

Garden accessories – Galvanized Steel or Rust?

Milk container from a Hudson Valley farm

Milk container from a Hudson Valley farm

Rusty milk container from a local farm.

Galvanized containers

Galvanized containers

Nowadays galvanized metal containers are very popular as decorative items and as planters for flowers and succulents. Galvanization is the process where  steel or iron items are coated with zinc to prevent rusting. These tubs and buckets were basic utility items on local farms, used for washing vegetables, laundry etc.

Here’s a collection of galvanized watering cans in a Hudson Valley garden – they are becoming harder to find as collectors snap them up (below).

vintage galvanized watering cans and buckets

Vintage galvanized water cans, buckets and oil cans in Hazel’s garden in the Hudson Valley

Rusty milk can

Rusty milk can

Out and about in the Hudson Valley, you’ll see a lot of these milk cans used as garden ornaments or bases for mail boxes. Here’s a newer one at Platte Creek Farm (below)

Milk can (with bird's nest!) at Platte Creek Maple Farm in Saugerties NY

Milk can (with bird’s nest!) at Platte Creek Maple Farm in Saugerties NY

Rayann explains “the milk cans often the have the name of the dairy on them.”

black vintage milk can with 'Southern Dairies Inc.' painted in white lettering

milk can from Southern Dairies Inc.

More rusty chic…

Wrought iron wall hook

Wrought iron wall hook

Hang a  small wind chime from this hand crafted wall hook.

Star anchor weights

Star anchor weights, some have been painted white and blue

These rusty cast-iron ‘star anchor weights’ were used to strengthen brick walls in old  buildings. How about using them to decorate your shed or deck?  According to Rayann “The stars in my shop came from Texas where they are nailed on barns for decoration. A friend had a country store in Texas that she closed up and I bought them from her. They are known as ‘Barn Stars’ down there.”

They can still be seen on the walls of industrial buildings in the Hudson Valley (below).

Anchor weight stars in a brick wall

Anchor weight stars in a brick wall

Bird Houses made from recycled materials

Cute bird house

Cute bird house

As Rayann explains “I designed this bird house and my husband built it – I pick out the bits and bobs and he nails them in place. There are two vintage tiles from the 1940’s on the roof of this bird house.”

Here’s the back-story behind the tiles. “My husband’s friend was a renovator and was working on a 1700’s stone house. Underneath the house he found hundreds of tiles, some were from the 1940’s and some from the 1700’s. I think the previous owners re-modeled their kitchen in the 1940’s and chucked the 1700’s tiles under the house. Then the kitchen was re-modeled again more recently and the 1940’s tiles were left under the house, which is where we found them”

A recycled cowboy boot made into a bird house.

A home in the country!

Reuse, recycle – this old cowboy boot is now a bird house. Re-purpose and provide habitat for birds!

Decorative Weather Vane

Rooster weather vane

Rooster weather vane

Looking for something for the garden shed or garage? This reproduction primitive metal rooster is a reference to the American farm-yard. Check out the spurs on his legs!

The Shop

The 'Rayann's Creative Instinct' store in Saugerties NY

The ‘Rayann’s Creative Instinct’ store in Saugerties NY

Rayann’s Creative Instinct is the place to go if you are looking for a real piece of Americana and Hudson Valley history.

* Thank you Rayann for taking the time to share the stories about the treasures in your shop *

Rayann's Creative Instinct antique shop, vintage

The bricks and mortar shop

Rayann’s Creative Instinct is located at 105 Partition Street, Saugerties NY 12477

(845) 246-4492 or  More finds on Etsy and Facebook.

Check out the excellent blogs from Empress of Dirt and Jill Ruth for ideas on recycled items for the garden. What vintage items do you use in your garden?



Inside – the tulips are blocks of color that pop. Outside – two foot of snow, sheets of ice and sub-zero temperatures.

The Spring Garden shows at Adams are held every March. The shows are setup inside and last for one week. There is a different garden show at each of the four Adams stores (Kingston, Wappinger, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh).  Adams is a family business which developed from a 1900’s farm stand where they left a ‘cigar box’ for customers to leave payment for produce.

  • The shows in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie are usually scheduled for the last week of February
  • The shows in Kingston and Wappinger are usually scheduled for the first week of March
  • check store websites for details!
Wooden sculpture, black bear with blue jay,

Hand carved wooden sculpture of a black bear holding a blue jay

Phil Burley, the Garden Center Manager at the Kingston store was kind enough to explain how the show is produced.

“The Poughkeepsie Landscape Design team create the show. The Kingston staff, including Jason Becker, the Nursery Manager, clear the space and help with the planting, installation and finishing details. People really appreciated this year’s concept – the rustic Adirondack look.”

Weeping cherry tree,

Weeping cherry tree at the side of a ‘creek’ surrounded by spring flowers

“The bulb stock comes from a grower, when the plants arrive they are in the ‘tight bud’ stage, ready to bloom during the Spring Show.  They are placed in the flower beds still in their pots which are covered with mulch.”

Stream with waterfall,

Creek with waterfall

The show includes both natural and artificial stone, a fork lift is used to place the large boulders. There is usually a water feature, this year it’s a natural looking miniature creek with a waterfall.

Fish fountain with sparrow,

Fish fountain – the water flows into the creek

Water always attracts wildlife and there was a pair of sparrows flitting round the fountain. (Previous shows have included Mallard ducks)

Bird sculpture with pansies and chrysanthemums,

Bird sculpture with purple pansies

Fox sculpture,

Red Fox, often seen in the Hudson Valley

Wildlife sculptures are dotted among the flowers.

Garden wall made from stone,

Circular stone wall

Stone patio,

Stone patio with metal garden seat

This patio is constructed with broken blue stone and boulders. The grass in the cracks was planted by hand – one of the many finishing touches that makes the show so impressive. The larger plants are added on the Monday before the show and the bulbs are added last.

Cedar garden structure,

The rustic ‘log home’ is constructed from red cedar logs.

Wooden sculpture, bear and salmon,

Hand carved wooden bear sculpture

In front of the log home is a wooden sculpture of a grizzly bear holding a salmon, this is a hand-made piece. A local folk art tradition, bears are carved with axes or chain saws.

Daffodils and Lilac,

Daffodils and Lilac

You would not believe how lovely the fragrance is! Flowering shrubs such as lilac and small evergreen trees  were put in place about one week before the show opens.

“It’s the temperature that makes the shrubs and plants flower. Mark Adams (son of the owner of Adams Stores) runs five acres of wholesale greenhouses behind the store in Poughkeepsie where he grows some of the annuals used in the spring shows.  The landscape crews sets up small greenhouses in the larger poly house to force the trees and shrubs to bloom just in time. Over the years Mark has gotten the timing down to a science.”

Pieris Shrub in bloom,

Pieris Shrub in bloom

I asked Phil if he had any advice for gardeners in the Hudson Valley:

  • “At this point, it requires patience, it’s not a good idea to do too much work when the ground is very muddy because the soil can become compacted, forcing out air and water pockets that plants need. In Vermont they call this the Mud Season!”
  •  “The prolonged cold temperatures have caused White-tailed deer to be more of an issue this year. The snow has prevented them from finding food and they have traveled and browsed more than usual.”
  •  “The cold winter wind increases transpiration. This and the extra cold temperatures means the roots cannot supply moisture fast enough to the plant, which can cause single branches or possibly the entire plant to die. After determining this, it’s a matter of pruning and removing the dead material.”
  • “Local people are concerned about GMO crops and absence of pollinators such as butterflies and bees. Many seed companies stated that their seeds are ‘GMO free’ this year. Adams stores do not sell GMO crops and offer organic and traditional produce. They source from local farms wherever possible and the Adams family supports many local organizations and charities.”
rock sculpture and vines,

Rock sculpture in the creek with wild grape vines behind

I love the Spring Shows at Adams, to me they are a welcome sign that spring is on the way – keep an eye out for the Adams Spring Shows in 2015!

My morning started with a giant donut in the backyard, powdered sugar everywhere.

Snowy day in the garden. Source:


River stone pillar in the garden. Source:

Pillar covered in stone from the Hudson River

Decided to leave my garden and walk down the road

Catskill Mountains and oak trees in the snow, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

The snow on the Catskill Mountains turned pink in the morning sun

America Robins in a tree, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

I saw a flock of about 50 American Robins eating berries in a tree

Bird bath in a snowy garden, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

Their bird bath was not functional today

Garden sculpture in the snow, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:


The low temperatures make everyone shiver

Garden furniture in the snow, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

Tea anyone?

Too chilly for breakfast ‘al fresco’ today

Back indoors for a cup of tea, thinking about how the snow makes the familiar look so different.

* With grateful thanks to the gardeners of Saugerties for allowing me to photograph their snow scenes *

I’ve put my garden ornaments away for the winter and now the garden looks a little forlorn and empty. This got me thinking about my friend Robin’s garden where many of the ornaments stay outside all year and look great in sun or snow…

To the right of Robin's driveway this concrete 'spacer' is placed atop a mossy rock.

To the right of Robin’s driveway this concrete ‘spacer’ is placed atop a mossy rock.


Welcome to Robin’s garden.

Beauty + Rust + Whimsey

Beauty + Rust + Whimsey

Just inside the fence at the entrance to the garden, these vintage chairs have wild mullein growing through them. They were given to Robin and were too rusty to refurbish, so she left them ‘as is’. Robin explained “Something about the rusty chairs makes me happy. They are very ‘old world’ to me, the same chairs were at an estate in Long Island where I worked on a photo shoot”. Robin’s line of work is arranging still life elements for professional photographers.


These naturally occurring rocks support a rose garden. Succulents grow in the niches – the only place where they survive. Dry stone walls (made without mortar) are integrated with the rock to create raised beds. Dry stone is a traditional building technique in the Hudson Valley where bluestone was mined.

By the front door, a raised step is a convenient place to re-pot some houseplants.



Repotting 'Snake Plants' (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Repotting ‘Snake Plants’ (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Behind the house is a shady bank planted with ferns and ornamental grasses. 


This hydrangea is a small tree about nine feet tall.

The granite orb was left by the previous owner of the house.

The granite orb was left by the previous owner of the house.

To the side of the garden there is a creek that tumbles down the mountainside.


This little bridge was built over the creek and a grape vine has been trained over the bridge. It’s a great all-season plant. Leaves, fruit in summer, interesting twining stems in the winter.


This ‘sculpture’ is a plant support that Robin painted blue, as Robin says “I like to see the beauty in everyday objects”.


There are several bird baths in the garden. The tops are brought inside during the winter otherwise they may crack due to the freeze/thaw process.

Leaving the garden...

Leaving the garden…

Robin is in the process of setting up a Prop Rental business called “The Prop Mistress”.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to display some of her ‘treasures’ in a future post.

Here’s an item I thought you may enjoy –

Another square: Grande Arche de la Défense in Paris, France

What is your favorite garden ornament? Leave a comment and share your favorite.

Kiss My Feet

Kiss My Feet

There is a vacant lot at the side of this 19th century building where a penny candy store once stood. The candy store was demolished many years ago and the empty lot has been reclaimed. It is the site of the patio which is in the early stages of construction.


Looking for the perfect spot for the raspberry bush, for now it’s on the rocker which was found in the attic.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is sprouting at the base of the wall. The plan is to put  eye hooks in the wall and tie it against the wall with twine.

Antique Arch

Antique Arch

This wooden arch is from a different building nearby, the owners were replacing their front porch and gave the pieces to the owner of Kiss My Feet. The arch is now at the side entrance abutting the bluestone sidewalk.



Wild Grapevine

Wild Grapevine

A wild grapevine grows around the feet of the sculpture. It was used to make a wreath which was hung in the garden.


Some of the salvaged bricks from the demolished building are stacked neatly, ready for future projects.


The brick manufacturer's name was sometimes on the brick.

The brick manufacturer’s name was sometimes on the brick.

The bricks were probably manufactured locally from the clay deposits on the banks of the Hudson River. Brick manufacturers used this clay to produce millions of bricks over a period of three centuries – the last manufacturer closed in the late 1950’s. The Hudson Valley bricks were used in the construction of buildings in NYC.

I think it’s wonderful to see recycled items being put to use in a creative way. I can’t wait to see the finished patio and would love to post some pictures when it’s complete.

© Text and photos by Andrea Giarraputo for

Bartering is a good thing! Haircuts and pedicures were bartered for the vintage wooden arch at the garden entrance to the ‘Kiss My Feet’ salon and spa. It’s a perfect fit for the beautiful red brick building.



Although quite small the entrance garden contributes to the Spa’s welcoming home-town ambience, a customer supplied the rudbeckia (known affectionately as “Black Eyed Susan”) when she was separating them in her garden and the feet were purchased from the Christmas store in Albany about two years after ‘Kiss My Feet’ opened in 2000.



There is an eclectic collection of modern and historic items outside the back door, can’t miss the giant metal flower. The owner spotted it at a metal fabricator’s when driving through Ocean County NJ, – “Man I have to have that because the flowers make me so tickled!” The piece of wood on the wall was found upstairs in the building, one of two pieces, the other was given to her fellow stylist. Tucked behind the flower  sculpture is a WWII can from local store Numrich Arms, this was the only one that didn’t leak! The dragonflies on the wall and hanging from a beam remind the owner of her sister who loves dragonflies.IMG_3932


The watering can is a gift from the owner’s sister. Doesn’t the begonia look good with the red brick?


So much more than an impersonal entrance way, this little garden displays the owner’s appreciation of history, love of community and respect for nature. And her sense of fun!


Would you like to see more of this garden? Let me know by leaving a comment I always love to hear from you guys!

© Text and photos by Andrea Giarraputo for

Ally, the daughter of sculptor Nick contacted Chronogram Magazine and the result was a reception at Rock Star Meadow hosted by Chronogram and KMOCA where people could see the monumental sculpture for the first time. The sculpture is the result of a collaboration between two artists, Nick and Estelle, whilst a third contributor is Lorraine who selected the plant material.


Mount Tobias is in the backdrop for this ceramic sculpture of a man cradling a bird. Nick greatly admires Irish Cairns and this influence is noticeable  in the stone pedestal.  (Cairns are piles or stacks of stones erected as memorials or markers built from pre-history to the present day).


Beyond the sculpture is a row of walls. The design gives a sense of colorful vines and flowers, the balls on top represent the flower stamens.


The overlapping arrangement adds depth.  Nick and Estelle used stucco on the surface and this was a new technique for them.


As they built the walls, they became aware of the lovely shadows as the light changed.


To the left  is a stepped wall which includes different elements; brick, stone, mosaic and ceramic. Another of Nick’s passions is Minoan architecture from Crete which has influenced the design of the stepped wall.


This is a detail of the arch above the doorway which includes a mosaic design of birds.


Detail from the doorway shows the rich colors and textures of the glass tiles and marbles.


The rear side of the stepped wall is different from the front, a little more somber.



Nick explained that when he and Estelle produced the ceramic sculpture, stucco walls and brick wall, they used different construction techniques. This is because they want to challenge themselves by always trying something new.

This Summer thanks to my good friend Liz, I was lucky enough to attend the first open day of an environmental sculpture that has been 20 years in the making. Constructed by two artists Estelle and Nick, who kindly provided some background information.


This river-stone wall was the first piece built. To Nick, the act of building is important – as is finding the stones and falling in love with the individual stones. Nick is Invited to quarry through a neighbor’s construction site or to visit a stream bed on the property where each stone is individually chosen.


Within the wall there are windows and niches for sculpture (made by Nick and Estelle).


At the end of the wall, the Catskill mountains are visible behind the lonely angel.


This stone pillar stands near the center of the four-acre plot, behind it are two rows of stucco walls representing flowers.


The second item built was the stone garden. The original design was for two separate stone enclosures each containing a sculptural form, as the building progressed Nick and Estelle realized the enclosures could be connected to make a garden.


After a long search for the ‘right’ style, the artists located this fountain in California. Here it is, placed on pea gravel in the center of one of the garden ‘rooms’.


Both Nick and Estelle continue to use new creative approaches and methods when constructing their sculpture. After experiencing some issues with ceramics (cracks and explosions during firing in the kiln) Nick turned to carving. The bust above is a portrait of his granddaughter fashioned from Carrara marble, set within a niche in a garden wall, isn’t it beautiful? I love the sense of stillness.


Throughout the gardens, on top of walls and in niches, are planters containing hardy geraniums, potentilla and coreopsis. The planters are above eye-level so we see the sunlight streaming through the translucent flowers and foliage. Nick’s wife, Lorraine is responsible for the gardening and certainly has a ‘great eye’.


This is the first of several posts about the beautiful structures of Rock Star Meadow, more to follow next Thursday. If you enjoyed this post, click the ‘Like’ button!

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