Farm Collector

Ways to Display Collectibles

This third article in a series of what to do with stray pieces in your collection might take a bit more expertise to get the best result (click here to read part one and part two). But don’t hesitate: Converting junk, broken and duplicate items into a practical and attractive function is not only fun, but also puts throw-away stuff to good use. Most properties can use a good gate, rose trellis, dividing panel, decorative foot scraper or plant holder. If your fancy turns whimsical, your creations are limited only by your imagination and the inventory of stuff lying around or stored in your pack rat nest. Do like I do: If an item turns out double-ugly and you are ashamed, use your backhoe and bury it before anyone sees it. Remember now: Gather your stuff, relax and let your imagination loose! Yeah man, go!

Build a decorative trellis

First, measure the proposed site for the trellis. Next, build a frame to fit those measurements. Use rod, pipe or angle iron … whatever you have available. Once the frame is assembled, lay it on concrete and begin placing all the items (tools, parts or whatever) in patterns within that framework. Small items may require that you weld cross-pieces in the frame to help hold your design in place. Once the final design is completed, start welding it all together. When finished, prime and paint, as that will be your last chance before vine growth covers the pattern. Be sure to add “ears” as needed to attach the trellis to a post or your house.

Build gates and dividers

Use the same process as described above (unless you have an old “blah” gate you want to redesign). Lay the frame or gate down and add whatever design you desire to its surface. You can build an archway the same way using hay rake teeth or horseshoes. It’s best to just “stick” the parts together before the final welds are made. And you may want to consult your mate on some designs before final welding is complete.

Whimsical items are a blast!

I suggest you sit down amidst your pack rat stuff and stare at each item for at least a minute, asking yourself if it resembles something in particular. If nothing comes to mind, go to the next item. If no inspiration strikes after making the rounds of staring at various items, it might be time to go check how the cider is progressing. Sooner or later, something will come to mind. Then just add legs, eyes, washer or nuts, a spring or other assorted stuff, and suddenly you will have a whimsical object that’s sure to bring on a smile. The kids really like this stuff, and with their active imaginations, they are great helpers. I promise “whimsy items” will produce Kodak moments. FC

Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. His wife, Ruth, collects antique dolls, is secretary/treasurer of the Devil’s Rope Museum and the Old Route 66 Association of Texas, and, according to Delbert, “Queen Mother of the local Red Hat club.” The two share authorship of this column, and Ruth is the able photographer. Contact them at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164; email:

  • Published on Apr 1, 2007
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