Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Eco-Friendly Garden Art By Shelia Thompson

Shelia Thompson is best known for her wooden replicas of landmark Charleston buildings which have been very popular with collectors for about 30 years.  Later she turned her attention to working in recycled metal.

It happened in a most unusual way.  Bob Bell, vice president of operations at Associated Container Sales and Fabrication, had a new high-definition plasma laser his company had purchased to expand its storage system business.  But the laser had some unused time and needed something to do with it.  He envisioned using it to produce something creative.  Bob had worked with Shelia before, so he gave her a call to see what they could come up with.  He offered her some sheets of steel and an idea was born.

Shelia had never worked with metal before, but saw the opportunity as a fantastic opportunity to expand her creativity.  She considered what she could design as a basis for a series reflecting images of her beloved Lowcountry that would be popular with Charlestonians and visitors alike.  Finally Shelia settled upon matte black silhouettes of images such as an egret, magnolia flower and a plantation house.

“I draw whatever the design is going to be. It gets put into a computer program and the machine reads it and cuts out whatever my design is. As of right now, I probably have about 25 designs”, says she.  The recycled steel is sand-blasted to remove rust and finally painted with a black powder-coat finish.  When backlit or their outlines are reflected against a lighter background such as a fence or white wall, the silhouettes take on an added dimension.

Fans of Charleston and the Carolina Lowcountry can reminisce and enjoy a memorable souvenir of the South.  Even if you've never visited Charleston, you'll love these beautiful, eco-friendly pieces.  Many of the motifs are taken from nature.  The series includes wall art, garden stakes, trellises and arbors, and other whimsical items.  They can used at mailboxes, against walls, or serve as accents in the garden.  The arbors or trellises, made of 11-gauge steel, do a great job of supporting vines and tall perennials.  Give them as gifts, and don't forget to collect them yourself.

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