Stepping inside Denny Croston’s world is as easy as walking onto his driveway.
The Issaquah artist’s home embodies all of the whimsy of his repurposed scrap metal sculptures. A visitor is immediately greeted by Poncho — a rusty gentleman with wrench arms and a “cute butt” — as well as army-helmet turtles and a horseshoe cactus before making it to the front porch. But the true wonderland is tucked behind the house.
Croston’s backyard is an eclectic medley of curiosities and creations. A huge red railroad car sits on the left, flanked by antique light posts and traffic signs. It took Croston two years to restore the 1921 Northern Pacific Railway caboose to its former glory and it’s the crown jewel of his railroad memorabilia collection.
Behind it, a shed teems with scrap-metal findings from junk yards and estate sales from all over Washington. A tree “yarn bombed” by local artist and friend Suzanne Tidwell casts shadows over the neatly trimmed hedges and fishpond on the right, while flowers made out of tractor parts peek through the greenery. Heaps of junk, rusting in the sunshine, punctuate the well-tended lawn.
A wire fence decorated with a flat, metal salmon marks the edge of Croston’s domain; the East Fork of Issaquah Creek gurgles beyond it.
Croston happily points out his newest find, a silver, oblong pod that’s overtaken his deck. It’s a fuel tank he picked up at his favorite scrap-metal sourcing spot in Moses Lake, but it won’t be one for long. Per the fuel tank’s “request,” Croston is transforming it into an orca whale.
“My junk speaks to me,” the artist explained. “It wants to go home with me.”
Objects speak to him
Croston lets his found objects dictate their yard-art reincarnations — a winding screw decided to be a dragonfly tail; a tossed door hinge returned as a butterfly. Years of practice have trained Croston’s eye for shape and utility, but the 65-year-old has had no formal art training.
“I can spot a bird’s head in a junk pile from a mile away,” he said, but “I can’t draw a stick figure.”
Croston began experimenting with found objects in the late ‘90s, inspired by successful scrap-metal artist and friend Dan Klennert.
“I was trying to get in Dan’s head,” Croston recalled. “How do you create this stuff?”
Klennert advised Croston to clear his head by listening to music and let the pieces “evolve” into new creations. Croston followed the advice and made his first piece, a grasshopper, while listening to instrumental sounds. Now, Croston gets his creative juices flowing by “putting plenty of volume on” and “entertaining the neighborhood” with feel-good, Celtic music. He then works and welds in his garage, maneuvering around tremendous piles of silverware, golf clubs, screws and sewing machines.
“Between your art and your music, it just takes you over,” he said. “It’s like I’ve got no control over it.”
Fortunately his wife, Penny, doesn’t mind the artistic clutter. More often than not, she falls in love with his pieces and they decorate their home.
“He builds them and I’m like, ‘Oh no, I’m keeping it!’” she said. “I try not to but it’s tempting.”
Commercial success comes late
Croston has created amazing pieces when possessed by an idea, working late into the night to make his signature propane-tank totem poles — his favorite. One towering example can be seen from the Mercer Island waterfront, and another sits in Croston’s van, surrounded by other creations and ready to display for curious visitors at a moment’s notice.
In a way, Croston has always been innovating within the confines of an existing structure. A sixth-generation carpenter, with Issaquah roots going back to 1893, Croston remodeled building interiors for most of his life. The skills translated well to yard art. Now that he’s retired, the hobby pays for itself.
Croston gained substantial commercial success and local recognition about seven years ago, when he started showing at the Issaquah ArtWalk.
“I judge my success by how many (business) cards I hand out,” he said.
With no storefront, Croston conducts most of his transactions in person. His website, www.dennysyardart.com, provides customers with examples of his work and contact information.
Croston joined artEAST, an Issaquah artist collective, two years ago and now his work is available for display and sale at the UP Front Gallery downtown. Patti Bondi, a gallery volunteer, said people come in asking for his pieces often and she counts herself among his fans.
“I just think it’s really charming,” she explained. “You can’t find too much that’s one of a kind nowadays. (He’s) utilizing things from the past to make something new and different.”
Croston’s latest piece is a glimmering heron made out of a car bumper and an exhaust pipe for the gallery’s “Rookery Project.” Creating the bird was a fun challenge for Croston, who stepped out of his rusty comfort zone by working with chrome objects.
He invites you to follow the “flock” as it travels around the Eastside this summer. Learn more about the project at http://arteast.org.
Ilona Idlis is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.
BANGALORE: Hard to believe but less than five per cent of India’s total electronic waste (e-waste) gets recycled due to absence of proper infrastructure, legislation and framework for disposing off electronic gadgets and products that have reached the dead-end, apex industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) observed in a study done on World Environment Day.
Growing at an annual growth rate of about 20%, India generates over 4.4 lakh tonnes of e-waste annually and almost half of all the unused and end-of-life electronic products lie waste in landfills, junkyards and warehouses, the report notes. Computer equipment accounts for almost 68% of e-waste material. This is followed by telecommunication (12%), electrical (8%) and medical equipment (7%) with household e-crap accounting for the remaining 5%, the analysis points out.
“Over 90 per cent of the e-waste generated in India is managed by unorganized sector and the scrap dealers in this market dismantle the disposed off products instead of recycling the same,” said DS Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM. Significantly, most of the discarded products can be recycled, refurbished and reused by a reconstruction process. This in turn reduces the overall impact on the environment.
Interestingly, the report suggests that used computers and discarded consumer durables be collected and donated to schools and orphanages.
June 02, 2012 | By Marion Callahan and Allentown Morning Call
ALLENTOWN — Ed Komnath rolled his truck into E. Schneider & Sons to see what cash prize awaited him for a bag of soda cans, an aluminum door frame, and old Honda car parts that his son-in-law couldn’t sell at a yard sale.
“It adds up,” said Komnath, of Macungie, watching as his metal was loaded onto a large scale mounted to the floor.
He wasn’t expecting enough to spring for a vacation, he said, but “I can take my grandson to Burger King.”Komnath, who walked away with $13.40 in cash, summed up his experience as “a good deal.”
“Fifty-five cents a pound for aluminum? You can’t go wrong. It’s enough to have a little fun money,” he said.
Business is booming at scrap yards, where recycling and metal dealers are seeing a growing number of homeowners and nontraditional clients making the extra trip to cash in their used bikes, old tools, and discarded soda cans. The scrap yards also have their share of regular customers, including contractors, who consider what they expect to earn in scrap when they bid for a job, and peddlers, who drive around retrieving metal discards.
At Schneider’s, an old bike can bring in $3. Someone can pocket $12 for an aluminum wheel. Copper and steel parts inside an old air conditioner could yield close to $20. A cast-iron bathtub nets $40. And a stainless steel sink? Another $12.
Owner John Schneider said the recession lured all types of scrappers to his yard, but the rising price for scrap could be a signal that the economy may be rebounding.
“Overall, our prices are about 75 to 80 percent of historical highs,” said Schneider, who said that the strong demand for products means more cash in the pockets of the steady stream of scrappers driving through. “Of course, it all trickles down.”
Peter Grandich, a Freehold, N.J., metals analyst, said the international demand in steel and metals has fueled price increases despite the beleaguered economy. Metal prices, he said, are up from 100 percent to 500 percent from a decade ago.
“We’ve seen a commodities boom due to growth in manufacturing — especially in China,” said Grandich, adding that the Chinese have been large-scale buyers of steel and other metals. “It’s the global markets leading the price increase.”
Heino Koberg, owner of Lehigh Valley Clean Out Junk in South Whitehall Township, said two years ago he was hired to clean out an old industrial building and haul away machinery that made candy molds.
“Back then we got $2,500 for the scrap metal; if it was today, it would be $10,000. Steel has definitely gone up,” he said.
Wall Mirror made with car side view mirrors Large round mirror with side view mirrors from various cars at the local salvage yards, carefully attached too a partical board wood frame. The mirrors are attached at various heights to give definition.
AT a special ceremony held in Honiton’s THG on Saturday, September 25, Jane Perkins, from Kenton, was announced as the winner of The Visitors’ Choice for her colourful homage to Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’, constructed from found objects and mixed materials.
Visitors to the Thelma Hulbert Open 2010: Renewal and Regeneration exhibition were asked to vote for their favourite exhibit, and Jane was the runaway winner.
The prize-giving coincided with the start of the latest exhibition at THG, ‘Inspirational Objects’, which runs until November 6.
Jane’s prize of £100 was generously donated by Honiton Auctioneers Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood, which occupies premises close to the gallery in Dowell Street.
‘Van Gogh Revisited’ is now touring the country as part of a solo show.
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