FARMINGDALE — Shirley Taylor has a knack for turning recyclables into art.
So far this summer, she has used dozens of cans of all sizes, wire and bottle caps to craft everything from dinosaurs to cows to lobsters. And people are buying the crafts almost as fast as she makes them to place in their gardens, hang outside their barns, and, in a few instances, send to relatives and friends who live out of state.
Taylor first experimented with the aluminum cans last summer when she and her sister made tin men, and she decided to expand her creations this summer. She does all the work right in her dooryard at 56 Northern Ave.
“This year, I thought I’d try something different,” Taylor said. “My grandson said he’d like to make a dragon, and he never did, so I decided to try it. It came out pretty good.”
The dinosaur consists of a large pizza sauce can for the body, a bean can for the face and soup cans for the legs. She cut out other cans to make the dinosaur’s fin, feet and tail. She paints those parts first, then drills holes and rivets them to the body. She paints the dinosaur or any other crafts the color a customer chooses. Most of her ideas, she said, just pop into her head. She also gets a few ideas from a friend who sometimes asks her to try to make a particular item that someone has inquired about.
In addition to tin men and dinosaurs, Taylor has created flying pigs, elephants, penguins, hummingbirds, ladybugs, ducks, lobsters, frogs, cows, butterflies and bumblebees. She has easily made 75 to 100 yard decorations so far this summer.
Taylor said she got the idea to make a lobster after she and her husband, Fred, had gone out to enjoy a lobster meal one day.
“I thought, ‘I could make a lobster,'” Taylor said. Interested buyers have been scooping them up. “I’ve sold a lot of dinosaurs, and I’m selling a lot of lobsters,” she said.
To make the lobster, Taylor uses a tomato sauce can for the body and cuts the claws and tail from a can. She uses bottle caps for the eyes and rivets them to the body, inserts some wire for the lobster’s antennae, then paints it red. She uses Rust-Oleum spray paint to color her ornaments.
Upon inspection of the ornaments hanging in her yard, one can spot sardine cans, muffin tins, buckets, coffee cans and cookie tins used to create one of her many products.
Most of her cans are donated from the 1-7-10 Center on North Belfast Avenue in Augusta, where she bowls, as well as from friends and relatives.
She will take donations from anyone who wants to pass their recyclables along.
You’ll often catch husband Fred Taylor helping her out, becase they are both retired.
Taylor spends six to eight hours a day working on the ornaments, which are for decoration but are not to be used as toys.
“It’s different. I find it relaxing,” she said.