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OOAK Outdoors

January 18, 2010

Finely-cast good luck charm

Not sure what OOAK means? You must not be spending your time shopping for that thing on ebay and craigslist. OOAK stands for one-of-a-kind and it’s my favorite keyword search term. I’ve been able to find some amazing gewgaws, some awesome bric-a-brac and some super tchotchkes using it. I have OOAK items all over the house but not just there. OOAK works well in the garden, too, providing much impact, personality and interest. OOAK items delight and surprise when used out-of-doors, like the white cricket above. I bought this beautifully cast, stylized insect from an elderly gentleman in Silverlake who was selling many OOAK items to move to New York. I really enjoy the almost machine-like look of this piece. In China crickets are good luck and kept in cages, but mine roams freely. Let’s do likewise and check out more …

River rockin' and snoozin'

Some OOAK items are that way because they’re made of natural materials and can never be duplicated exactly. I love this type of ornament, especially if there’s an element of almost-obsessive attention to detail. The artisan who created the river rock birdbath, above, really spent some time placing the stones just so to create the spiral effect of the bath’s stem. An equal amount of attention went into creating the bowl, with an exact number of stones forming the rim and the rocky rosette in the center. In the background a chunky cast concrete muchacho catches a siesta in etched solid concrete, completely unimpressed by the rock show.

Polynesian close encounter

On the left, a Polynesian sea turtle fertility charm in bronze (at least that’s what the guy I bought it from told me it was) dresses up a pot containing an interesting gnarled succulent. Note the baby sea turtles hanging from the chains with saffron colored beads, while, above, mom rides what looks like two huge floats. Or something … A rough earthenware Martian looks on bemusedly. Earthlings, sheesh!

Surprising cherubic contortions, fore and aft

Remember that element of surprise I said OOAK items can provide? The planter, above, I bought from the same elderly man as the cricket in the first picture, and I had to have it as soon as I saw its picture on craigslist. I mean, have you ever seen a garden pot that featured what seem to be chubby cherubim engaging in energetic, er, calisthenics, before? I hadn’t, so I had to bring it home, where it’s now the focal point of an ongoing garden folly. I’ll be posting on that project soon.

Face on your egg?

In a back corner of the Rancho is a berm made of decomposed granite featuring some unusual plant specimens, as well as equally unusual garden art and assemblages. Above, at left, is a blue bomb of some sort topped with a plastic 60s lampshade, and finished off with a brass spearhead. Oh, and yes, that is an egg with a pensive look on its face. A gift from my nephew, José, it fits in nicely with other outré OOAK items, like …

Spouts up, branches down

… a multi-spouted, organic ceramic vessel that seems a natural fit next to a bizarre rescued cactus. I obtained the cactus when a neighbor’s adult son came by and offered his mother’s patio plants to me after she’d passed away. The plants had been neglected for a long time, and in this cactus’ case it weakened its arms, causing them to grow down rather than up. Already naturally gnarly, it now fulfills the OOAK label perfectly, alongside its ceramic partner . And then there’s …

Some assemblage required

… the snake head, wire birdcage, metal rod pyramid, thing. This is OOAK by association. None of these things separately are very singular but put together they become something entirely new. Things like this come and go outside as I decide I like them, don’t like them, or change them. OOAK is all about bypassing rules and having fun, even outside!

New life for a drum

Behold the humble washing machine drum. Once it agitated and spun and lathered all manner of clothing in its capacious interior. Yanked out of its boxy metal shell it was allowed to get rusty and dented, until I got ahold of it and turned it into a OOAK planter for several large echeverias. Now it’s sitting pretty — dings and all — with its matching ruffled succulent headgear.

Turtle, turkey, or oil drum?

Lastly, an OOAK folk art turtle, moseys across the landscape, memories of its previous life as an oil drum playing wildly in its head. Wait, or is it a turkey with a shell on its back wondering where its feathers and wattle got off to? Some visitors have weighed in for either, or both, and it’s okay. The OOAK life can be uncertain and what looks like one thing to one person can seem like something else to another. Whatever… all I know is that inside or out, the singular will always have a place of honor at the Rancho. OOAK is a-okay with me!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Velen permalink
    January 18, 2010 6:28 am

    Sometimes i can’t believe my good fortune to live with so many entertaining OOAKs a step away. Thanks Reuben.

  2. foodguy permalink
    January 19, 2010 8:39 pm

    oh come on paulie, you and reuben are definitely your own OOAKs

  3. January 22, 2010 6:34 pm

    So many cool things – but what I really notice is the way the green of your plants pop! Gorgeous.

    Thanks for sharing … I hope you feel better very soon, Rueben.

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