Archives for posts with tag: Upcycling

This outdoor furniture is constructed from 100% recycled materials, the garden benches, chairs and plant stands are made from an assemblage of vintage wood, tree roots and found or discarded objects. The ‘carpenter’ Dave, carefully and patiently builds each piece by hand.

Garden Chairs

Take a look at this garden seat, you’ll see some old tools incorporated into the design.

garden seat made from recycled wood, rusty chain with tools such as trowels incorporated into the design

Garden seat made from recycled wood and chain.

Dave has been making this yard furniture for about six years and is self-taught. He got started when his girlfriend asked him to build her something and he produced a small bench. From there he went on to create sheds, fences, gazebos and sculpture.

Garden furniture, a chair made from scrap wood with a curved back

Beautiful chair with curved back


Garden chair made from reclaimed wood with a back of interwoven branches and sticks.

Garden chair – a puzzle of re-purposed wood.

This chair is one of my favorites (below) because it seems to be blown and buffeted to the right by the wind.

artisan-made garden chair with the appearance of being blown to one side by the wind

A windswept chair

The furniture may look delicate but it is resilient enough for outdoors. As Dave says “Everything I make is solid, you can sit on the chairs.” While out foraging for material, Dave sometimes gathers all the ‘found pieces’ together and assembles the furniture on the spot, then brings it back to the store.

Large garden chair with a high back made from branches, the seat is made from re-purposed wood

This large garden chair is a sheltered nook – the back forms a decorative screen and it has a small open ‘roof’.

Plant Stands and Planters

This garden planter has several shelves for potted plants (below). The looped tree root is a great place to hang a wind chime, a sign or whatever else suits your garden. The up-recycled green and white glass plate provides visual balance.

A rustic garden shelf for the backyard or garden. It has several shelves for plant pots or ornaments. Made from recycled wood, vine and tree roots

Plant stand made from tree roots and vine

This is stand out piece, beautiful as is. Or use it as a display area for potted plants, bird houses, ceramics or small sculptural objects (below)

Add some vintage style to your garden with this plant stand / shelf

This plant shelf would look great against a brick wall.

Picture this plant stand with a potted fern in a shady spot on the deck. Or in full sun with a ceramic container of colorful, trailing plants such as nasturtiums – gorgeous!

A wooden plant holder suitable for a potted plant, for outdoor use, by backdoor on on a deck. Constructed from driftwood and scrap wood.

The perfect piece for the back door area or patio.

A table with a tabletop of discarded glass, framed by various pieces of worn wood (below).

Country-style table made from up-cycled items. The top is a piece of discarded glass, the frame and legs are constructed from driftwood.

Sturdy table for the porch.

Garden Benches

The back of this bench is a reclaimed window screen. (below).

A piece of hand-made outdoor furniture made from up-cycled wood and a mesh window screen.

There are traces of red paint on the seat.

Twisted, intertwined tree roots form the back of this garden seat (below). Dave searches for materials locally and recycles everything he sees. He uses grapevine, apple vine and yard sale ‘treasures’. Dave especially enjoys using roots because of the curvy shapes and because they sometimes twine around interesting objects such as old bricks (manufactured centuries ago by the Hudson River brick industry).

Old wood and tree roots are reused to create a county-style chair for the patio

Chair made from up-cycled wood and tree roots.

This is one of Dave’s first pieces, he calls it the ‘Tiny Tim’ bench. It does have that old Dickensian feel to it (below).

small wooden, decorative bench, constructed from reclaimed wood which has been varnished.

Small bench (about 3′ long) constructed from reclaimed wood with a varnished finish.

Garden Sculpture

Here’s a decorative windmill (below). I can image it as a centerpiece in a flower bed full of unruly wild flowers.

A decorative, wimisical, garden windmill, created by NY folk artist in the Hudson Valley, NY

Windmill with re-purposed, old broom.

Poised and focused! Ice hockey is a popular sport locally because there is an ice arena in town. Dave donates furniture to local fundraisers to benefit local schools and churches.

A small, humorous sculpture of a child ice hockey player made from reclaimed wood, the figure is holding a real hockey stick.

MVP – Saugerties Youth Ice Hockey!

The ‘Bird Sanctuary’ – a three dimensional collage of driftwood from the banks of the Hudson River (below).

A sculpture designed for wild birds, includes a reclaimed bird house

Dave tells me he’s seen birds popping in and out of the bird house.

The bird sanctuary includes an upcycled bird house complete with miniature deck and hand rails.

Reclaimed bird house with miniature deck and hand-rails.

Reclaimed bird house, painted the traditional red of a Hudson Valley barn.

Dave selected this piece of driftwood because it resembles an eagle. Golden Eagles are a common sight because they feed on fish and there are many large bodies of water in the area, including the Hudson River, of course.

A piece of driftwood that resembles a bird for prey such as an eagle.

Eagles, ospreys, hawks and vultures are often seen in the Hudson Valley.

Dave explained it takes many hours to place each piece in exactly the right spot.

Sculpture made from driftwood

Intricate pattern of driftwood

This rustic garden furniture reflects Dave’s love of history and his appreciation of art. Each piece has a story behind it. This is authentic, hand crafted, Hudson Valley folk furniture.

small, decorative garden fence, hand-made from driftwood.




antique_painted_ gathering_garden_

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?

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.

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!

Being a fine art painter my friend Hazel has a creative mind and can see old things in a new way. She takes repurposing a step further when using found objects as garden decor.


At the foot of the steps to the deck is a collection of vintage watering cans and containers, most of which came with the house. The bucket is from some dog kennels on a friend’s farm. It was painted many years ago with green boat paint, the original owner was a barge worker and the green boat paint was used on pretty much everything. The oil can was salvaged from a dump at the back of the  property and was found with a metal detector.

For Hazel, container gardening enables her to bypass the limited sun, funky soil, slugs and voles. Velvety leaved coleus are used as a focal point to draw the eye along a path to a shady spot where a pot adds a drop of color too.


“The colors I like, blues, reds, yellows, white can all be put in a pot. The pots add a second level of height 15″or higher, you have a much more layered look to the garden.”


Salvaged from old screen doors, Hazel painted these aluminum panels and placed them in the flower garden.

“If I want purple there, I’ll put purple”


Several panels are combined inside a hand built wooden screen to frame a shady corner (below)


A scrap of periwinkle blue fence is under-planted with hostas to give it some visual weight (below). In the spring the flowers of the Double Flowering Japanese Kerria shrub are dots of yellow against the soft blue.


Recommended by Hazel –  Northern Dutchess Botanical Gardens for reasonable prices and awesome selection, especially Coleus.

For more on container gardening check out Container Gardening Tips with Bob Hyland at

Near the Kaaterskill Creek is a garden located in the hollow of a dry creek bed, shaded by Maple and Eastern Cedar trees.

Source: Self

Source: Self

The gardener, Hazel generously explained the history of the garden and the various artifacts within. This is the first of a series of posts in which she shares her ideas and creativity with us. Incorporated into the design are ‘found objects’ from the local environment including smooth river rocks, Hemlock stumps and reclaimed furniture.

Source: Self

Source: Self

The garden was overgrown when Hazel and her family arrived, as they cleared the brush they discovered some daylilies – an indication that there had once been a garden. Now many years later there is a profusion of carefully selected perennials, annuals and shrubs.

Source: Self

Source: Self

Source: Self

Source: Self

From the herbaceous beds, to the right are twin Maple trees with garden furniture beneath them. The yellow chair (a piece of classic Americana) was salvaged from the roadside where is was left on ‘metal refuse collection day’ about 15 years ago. Upon seeing Hazel pressure washing the chair, hubby asked “Why the hell did you bring that home?”  The blue chair is also a classic design called the ‘Adirondack Chair’and it was made by Hazel.

After all that hard work in the garden it’s time for a refreshing cool drink…iced tea anyone?

Source: Self

Source: Self

See more of Hazel’s garden here

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