NEWS

Spice up backyard, garden with outdoor art

Tamara Browning

Metalwork made for the outdoors adorns the yard of Don and Jo Bode.

The Bodes have garden art near the backyard pool and side yard in Lincoln, Ill., including an approximately 8-foot-tall sunflower, “We Be Jamming” people (with long, narrow bodies and wavy, spiked hair), and a copper frog.

Don Bode creates the metalwork for his yard and sells it to others. Made of steel, stainless steel or copper, Don’s art is “all-weather” in that it’s meant to stay outside — rust, patina and all.

“If you get the steel part, it’s going to give you the rusty look. A lot of people like the rusty look,” said Don, owner and operator of Bode’s Welding & Machining. “I don’t care what you do. It’s going to rust — any steel. The same way with the copper — it’s going to tarnish. It gets that patina on there.”

Don’s primary job is to run a welding and machine shop, but fashioning garden art has been a passion of his for about 10 years.

“I seen something in a magazine one time, and I cut it out, and then my niece said, ‘You know you ought to do this,’ so I started dabbling around.”

Don has found that outdoor decor is popular, with this year’s hot items being his sculptures of day lilies, irises and metal flip-flops.

Art shows are good places for people to find unique outdoor artwork from local artists to complement outdoor living spaces, said Wade Velten, owner of Buckley’s Prairie Landscaping.

“For the most part, your art fairs and things like that will have some really unique pieces.”

According to “Garden Media Group’s Mega Trends to Garden Trends” (2008), an estimated $6.2 billion is being spent annually on outdoor furniture, grills and accessories, giving evidence that outdoor living has moved from a trend to a mainstream lifestyle,

“Instead of doing a room addition on the home, (people) are  creating an outdoor space that they can utilize during the season that feels like home,” said Velten, whose company also sells outdoor art.

"One of the things that they’ll do to complement that area is doing the outdoor art. That art could be a type of fountain. It could be a metal sculpture. It could be things that you hang on the wall.”

People want to have everything outdoors that they have indoors, said Mike Voyles, owner of Home Infatuation, a Web-based outdoor-living products company that includes weather-resistant outdoor wall art.

“Everything we do is for outdoor living. We’ve got the furniture and that outdoor art ... about everything.

“It’s just kind of an accessory just like a piece of art for indoors; you’d treat that as an accessory. It’s kind of like buying another lamp or a throw rug. It just completes your room,” said Voyles, whose company is based in Galesburg, Ill.

Among the colorful outdoor art that Home Infatuation sells (HomeInfatuation.com):

- Metal Crab, a weatherproof outdoor wall art made of heavy-gauge steel. It is hand-painted and coated with clear, weatherproof, UV-resistant sealer to protect it. The 35-by-37-inch crab art is available in pink and blue or red and green at $139.95 each.

- Metal Tropical Fish, weatherproof tropical fish outdoor art made of heavy-gauge steel, hand-painted and coated with a clear, weatherproof, UV-resistant sealer. There are several colors and styles, such as the 37-by-33-inch blue and orange fish, 37-by-33-inch necklace butterfly fish and the 37-by-29.5-inch yellow finfish, each for $119.95.

- Breezy Palms I, a print created through a patent-pending printing process that results in crisp images, saturated color and a high-quality look. UV and weather-resistant inks are printed on an aluminum composite blank that wraps around the 3/4-inch-thick aluminum frame. The 20-by-24-inch art is $136; the 24-by-32-inch is $180; and 32-by-44-inch is $252. It comes with a five-year warranty.

Customers of Home Infatuation choose from a selection of outdoor art; artwork is not custom-made.

Bode offers custom-made metalwork in addition to the artwork he makes and shows. His metalwork ranges in price from $45 to $300 (higher for more elaborate pieces). The artwork isn’t meant to be painted.

“You can leave it outside, but if you’re going to put it on any kind of surface or anything, it’s going to stain the surface because of the rust on it,” said Bode, who said that most people will place the artwork in a garden, but it can be put on an outside wall.

“I put something behind it (1/4- to 1/2-inch rod) so that it stays away (from the wall) from the back...,” Bode said. “I try to leave it to where it sits out off the wall, so that it doesn’t bleed down on there.”

State Journal-Register writer Tamara Browning can be reached at 788-1534.