Art Gardens - Large and Small
Nek Chand's Sculpture Garden
Duck by Nek Chand made from concrete poured over recycled metal armature with pieces of broken crockery and other materials.
(56" x 35" x 11")
After the Taj Mahal, the most popular tourist attraction in India is a
40-acre garden on the outskirts of the capital city of the Punjab region.
The Rock Garden of Chandigarh contains thousands of sculptures set in
large mosaic courtyards linked by walled paths, deep gorges, buildings
and a series of interlinking waterfalls. It was created by a
self-taught artist, Nek Chand, and the story of how it came to be is
as breathtaking as the art.
Nek Chand was born in 1924. At age 23 he was displaced from his small
Punjabi village, which stood on the newly created border between India
and Pakistan. In 1951 he settled in Chandigarh, Punjab's new capital,
soon to become India's first modern city, designed by French architect
by Le Corbusier. Nek Chand found work as a road inspector and watched
as the government razed two dozen villages to build Le Corbusier's
He collected debris from the razed villages and secretly cleared a
small patch of forest on public land where trespassing was forbidden.
After work, at night and on weekends, Nek Chand collected various remains - rocks,
shards of glass, tiles, bangles, bottle caps, broken crockery and
bicycles - and taught himself to sculpt. His goal: to create his own
vision of the divine kingdom of Sukrani.
Bangle boy by Nek Chand
Concree over metal armature with mixed media (43" x 17" x 12")
Using homemade concrete poured over armatures made from bicycle parts,
Nek Chand began building statues of Hindu gods and goddesses and
people and animals he had met or learned about through local legend.
And unlike the stark modern city around him, his statues were
decorated lavishly with found objects pressed into the cement. He
worked in secret and filled his outdoor installation with 1,000
statues before the local government discovered it in 1975. Officials
were outraged because it was built on government land illegally and
they wanted to destroy it. Instead, after several protests, in
1976 the government decided to turn his Rock Garden into a public
park. Nek Chand was named director, with a salary and 50 full-time
apprentices to help him develop his vision.
Most of Nek Chand's work remains in India. A few pieces are included
in New York
City's American Folk Art Museum and the John
Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The National Children's Museum in
Washington, DC owns a number of sculptures gifted by Nek Chand in the
1980s. Because the museum is relocating, the collection is in storage until
it reopens in 2009.
The Rock Garden is celebrating 30 years of operation for the public
good - art, education and environmental awareness - and the 10-year
jubilee of the founding of the Nek Chand Foundation with a weeklong
international folk art conference Nov. 6-11, 2007. For more
information, visit the foundation's website at www.nekchand.com.
Timmerman Daugherty's Weird Gardens
Timmerman Daugherty wanted to enjoy the garden of her small Baltimore,
Maryland, townhouse all year long, but not being blessed with a green
thumb, she did not want the responsibility of maintaining living,
growing plants. Taking a walk one evening in 1982, she discovered a pile of rusted and
beautifully shaped boiler parts in her alley and decided to convert
them into fencing for "my new rust garden."
Daugherty created mosaic flowers from a stained glass studio's discards.
The unusual solution surprised the self-described recovering lawyer
raised with aesthetically conservative tastes. Now a self-taught
artist, Daugherty learned to create mosaics and sculpture in order to
incorporate her found objects into her garden design. She sometimes
uses the found objects "as is" and sometimes she deconstructs them to use the parts in ways unrelated
to their original design. "I am interested in combining little pieces
to make something large," she said.
The colorful front garden of Daugherty's rowhouse, about 15' x 12',
has no grass. Instead, Daugherty designed a formal garden with green
beer bottle bottoms standing in for shrubs. Then she added some
industrial art pieces, including a vintage typewriter, sewing machine
and two stone lions.
The back garden, which makes a more personal statement, includes a
waterfall with water flowing into a gurgling pond from 20 old faucets;
a blue bottle chandelier; reflecting balls made from stained
glass-and-mirror-covered bowling balls; stained glass flowers; mirror
ponds with sculpted ducks, frogs and fish, and a garden enclosed by
rusted boiler parts. A few easy-to-maintain plants, ivy and Virginia
creeper, help showcase the artwork.
To see additional pictures of Daugherty's home and see a list of links
to sites and artists that inspired her, visit www.weirdgardens.com
Nature-Inspired Craft Kits for All Ages
Tammy Ruggiero is a fiber artist who works with wool collected from sheep
on her family's farm in Virginia. She also encourages others to express themselves in new ways by assembling craft kits supplied with wool from her pets and recycled and eco-friendly materials. The kits include complete instructions and supplies, and versions are available for a beginner's project in Australian locker hooking, which Tammy says is "an easy and versatile craft dating back 100 or more years"; weaving, which comes with a hardwood hand loom; sewing finger puppets, which includes plant-dyed felt, and figures made of wrapped wool and other fibers.
The kits, suitable for all ages, are fun for one but have been purchased in bulk for family evenings, for parties and larger groups. Ruggiero supplies them to the Waldorf schools and other schools throughout the country. For more information, visit www.naturallycreative.etsy.com. When you order, mention Eco-Artware or Recycling Rag in the "Comments" section and she will send you a free kit to make an adorable wool-wrapped lamb.
Andrew Masters' World Music
Andrew Masters is a widely traveled self-taught artist, musician and
instrument maker who comes from Barbados and currently lives in
France. He performs on homemade instruments and teaches children how to make
them in workshops held throughout the world. He also plays percussion with
several bands in France.
In July/August 2006 he and one of his band colleagues had a grant
to teach a workshop for twenty children in Sri Lanka. After three weeks, the
children formed a marching band and played their instruments made from
bamboo, tin cans and other found materials, combined with a few local drums. This
marching band headed a parade that opened the Green Hope Festival
2006, an arts event consisting of workshops for children living in tsunami-
affected communities in the town of Hikkaduwa.
Kalimbas made from sardine cans by Andrew Masters. The
sounds for each instrument vary depending on the type of wood used on the top.
Twelve years ago Masters began making kalimbas from sardine cans. (The
kalimba, a Brazilian word, is known by many names: thumb piano in
the United States and Europe, m'bribra in Zimbabwe, bongoma in the Congo and
sanza in Central Africa.) The instrument consists of a box or calabash with
a flat top and nine to 15 bars of thin metal tuned to a five-note scale.
Masters makes his from used sardine cans, gasoline cans and jerry cans
which he also uses to make totem masks. Each of his kalimbas is one-of-a-kind and
he sells 40 to 50 a year to music educators and world music performers.
Prices range from $60 to $150 depending on the size of the instrument and the
amount of work put into it. He plans to issue a CD of kalimba music in late
2007. For additional information, visit
Welcome, Craft Magazine
Check out the newly launched Craft magazine, a hefty 159 pages of
eclectic ideas in knitting, sewing, simple carpentry, needlepoint and more,
which transforms traditional crafts into projects relevant to today's
lifestyles. Published quarterly, like its sibling Make magazine, Craft focuses
on soft crafts and home décor, while Make offers projects relating to
science and technology. Many projects in both magazines are made with recycled
materials. If you'd like to test drive one of their projects, visit
our craft section to learn how to upholster a switch
plate with a 1970s tie, a project which the publishers have allowed us to
To see what is contained in the current issue of Craft, visit
a daily dose of indie craft world happenings, visit the idea-filled blog,
http://craftzine.com/blog. Each day
eight to ten postings feature cool projects discovered by editor Natalie Zee
Drieu (who reads several craft blogs daily) and readers' contributions.
The magazine costs $34.95 per year for four quarterly issues.
Single copies are available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, JoAnn Fabrics,
Michael's, and Hobby Lobby.
Recycle Tin Cans, America (detail) by Ramona Otto
Ramona Otto's artistic career began when her husband challenged her to
create something from a flea-market discovery. Since then, the self-
taught artist has assembled two- and three-dimensional art from found
objects and recycled materials. Her unique inventions include a bookshelf
constructed from schoolhouse rulers, a table made from Scrabble pieces and a
sampling of over 20 years of handmade valentines given to her husband. These
can be seen in a new exhibit of her work, "An American Love Story: Works by Ramona
Otto," at the Craft and Folk Art Museum
in Los Angeles, Feb. 3-May 6, 2007.
Exhibits by two Canadian artists who work with found materials will
be held at the Montréal Musée d'art contemporain February 10-April 22. Jérôme Fortin's new Ecrans series, inspired by Japanese Zen
gardens, comprises nine large-scale elements that unfurl in a procession
through the exhibit space. Made from reused sketchbooks, magazine pages,
posters, comic strips, coloring books, phone directories and road maps, the works are
attached directly to the wall and will be destroyed in the dismantling
process, in accordance with the Quebec artist's wishes.
Jean-Pierre Gauthier's work is represented by 12 major installations consisting of
everyday objects including pipe fittings, funnels, electrical wires
and lockers, some of which move and create sound. In 2004 the Quebec
artist received the Sobey Art Award, the highest distinction awarded to a
Canadian artist under 40. The exhibits run concurrently with Israeli artist Guy
Ben-Ner's video/installation, "Treehouse Kit."
Rut by Jean-Pierre Gauthier (Sound installation using steel tubes, miscellaneous objects, microphones, motors, automated mixing console, speakers, amplifiers, microphone cables, electric cables, microcontrollers, relays, and motion detectors.
Écran no. 11 (détail) 2006, a collage using folded papers from Artforum magazines by Jérôme Fortin.
Lihidheb Mohsen Expands His Sea Memory Collection
Sculpture made from painted tires by Lihidheb Mohsen.
Artist Lihidheb Mohsen, who, with the help of school children, creates sculptures from findings on the beach near his home in Tunisia and was featured in a recent edition of The Rag, recently sent us a note: "There should be no war, but the war on pollution and global warming."? We couldn't agree more.
In addition, he has started adding sculptures made from tires to what he calls his Sea Memory Collection. Below is a picture of a recent work displayed in the open-air collection.
Return to top