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Our Rusty Rapport

June 19, 2011

New love

A few weeks ago we attended an event called Picker’s Paradise in nearby Corona. Event publicity made it out to be my kind of event … but I found the pickings slim for the most part. That is, except for one booth with an assortment of planted containers that really spoke to me: All contained succulents, all were quirky, mostly vintage, and best, rusty! Choosing carefully, I found the piece above irresistible: the back-end of a child’s wagon-toy, it had become a vertical planter brimming with snaky little cactus and moss. I asked the vendor, Tom, who’d made the piece and he told me his wife put them all together. Sadly, she was not around at that moment to compliment. So, we exchanged information; I wanted to meet her and see her other pieces … When Tom told me that he and his wife both loved rust and that if something wasn’t rusted they’d make it that way; I knew they were my kinda folks. So, after some phone tag, we did meet them at their Riverside home. Here’s a look at what we found …


This sweet tumble of blossoming cactus is growing out of the rusted front end of a vintage toy truck. The color of the oxidized metal contrasts beautifully against the cactus, and a weathered piece of wood provides an appropriate textural backdrop. Once these blooms open this piece will be a knockout …


Another truck-front, housing several types of succulents; I love the mossy tangle growing through the truck’s windows and the diverse foliage and leaf shapes.


I’m not exactly sure what this attractively corroded fragment used to be, or even what this plant is, but I love the two together. Here, Vickie has intuitively matched a vertical container element with plant material that has a horizontal foliage aspect. Obviously used for target practice at some point, bullet holes add to the piece’s found-object appeal …


Two ol’ skillets and a dustpan have become homey, rustic, container gardens. Vickie’s solution for soil containment — welded metal mesh — adds a grid-like decorative element, which she finishes with moss. All are photographed against the gorgeously distressed top of a great folding bistro table I would not mind having at all …


More former kitchen occupants: a less-rusty pan and teapot, and a galvanized watering can, have been re-purposed as container gardens. With their subtle sheen and cool colors, these containers will continue to look terrific as their diverse succulent tenants grow out …


A vintage oilcan with a bendable siphon erupts with spiky juicy leaves, while a child’s toy wagon has become a roving garden plot. That stand-out siphon tube and those chunky wheels add whimsy to the succulent equation.


Vickie and Tom’s yard is chock-full of amazing, unexpected vignettes; here a vintage water bottle holder makes an attractive pedestal for a fuzzy-leafed succulent. A young peasant boy in knee breeches minds his own business at right.


And, speaking of amazing, a life-sized Fisk Tire mascot stands sleepily against the wall of the garage. Missing his standard-issue tire and candlestick (see print version here), he’s distressed but absolutely beautiful. That ‘thou shalt not covet’ commandment was continually being shattered at Vickie and Tom’s place: I was lusting for so many of their things. I made an overt offer for some rock-like cement blocks they had, but they wouldn’t budge … the blocks had a sentimental backstory for them. Drat!


Quite a few of the things on display at Vickie and Tom’s had a vintage automotive connection. From signage to actual car parts, there are evocations of bygone California highways at every turn. I particularly loved the complete auto grills hanging on the garage’s wall; they have an almost anthropomorphic quality, like studious and pensive metal faces. Near our visit’s end, Vickie flipped a switch and the re-wired headlights of one grill lit up … Again, covet overload: I want this amazing outdoor light sculpture!


Vickie’s yard also featured these intriguing sights: A cranky owl lantern glaring over the handlebars of a vintage bicycle; a red metal farm machine showing great form; a charming old birdbath with a permanent drinker; a large, upright water tank; a fantastic, deteriorating garden gnome; a swirly, rusty oven door with the word ‘FLORA’ cut into it … there was just much to see … Vickie herself was striking with intense blue-gray eyes. Both she and Tom were charming and loquacious; they had stories for everything … we just had to point. Both are clearly artists; Vickie pointed out that she has always been involved in some type of creative endeavor, and Tom artfully restores vintage toys and pedal cars to a lustrous candy-colored splendor out of their garage. I enjoyed our visit immensely and it gave me an idea. I’m planning to have a sale at the Rancho! On offer will be garden items I couldn’t live without (but haven’t used), as well as other objects; Vickie’s rusty delights; plus one succulent seller and another purveyor of garden objects. I’m still trying to figure out when the best weekend for this sale might be but you can bet I’ll announce it here. I can’t wait to have this sale so we can all share our love for all things succulent and rusty!

34 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2011 10:28 pm

    Too funny! I came to your blog today to get the address to link to it a post I’m working on about a visit to rusty paradise. I was saying that I thought of you while there…and now I see your doing a post about your lust for rust. What a great coincidence! You would have LOVED shopping where I was…you’ll have to pop over and check out my blog later in the week.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2011 11:21 pm

      Sounds awesome, Loree! I can’t wait to see your post… sometimes I think my rust-lust is getting out of control … I wish everything were oxidized!

  2. June 20, 2011 1:40 am

    You, Vicki & Tom were mean to cross paths. A couple of her choices I’ve seen before, but the majority are incredibly off-the-wall, really unique, and suggest a lot of new directions to go in. Please follow through with the plan to have that sale at the Rancho! What an idea…

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 20, 2011 1:57 am

      Hey, Denise, I will definitely be having the sale, I’m just trying to figure out which of my fave succulent vendors I want to include … I think it’ll be fun and a great chance to pass along some things!

  3. June 20, 2011 2:31 am

    Wow, Reuben, this was the motherlode. I was lusting after everything they had myself. Definitely going to repost…more people need to see this. Thanks!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 20, 2011 3:14 am

      Hey, Annette, thanks! I hope you can come down for our sale (as soon as I decide when it’ll be)…

  4. Kim permalink
    June 20, 2011 3:36 am

    Very cool stuff. I’m in Riverside…didn’t hear a thing about this Picker’s Paradise. Will definitely want to attend your sale. I’m working on my own succulent collection.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 20, 2011 3:40 am

      Hi, Kim, welcome to the Rancho … I actually found out about Picker’s Paradise on craigslist, and by accident. Keep checking in for news on the sale!

  5. Matti permalink
    June 20, 2011 3:09 pm

    Still drooling over your find and yet another reason to make another roadtrip to SoCal. RR, you have a fantastic eye. Keep finding (and making) these sweet objects. Matti

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 20, 2011 3:46 pm

      Hey, Matti … when’re you guys coming down south again? Maybe that’s when we should have the Rust+Sucs Sale?

  6. June 22, 2011 5:51 am

    very cool peeps!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 22, 2011 12:24 pm

      Really cool peeps, I spoke with Vickie again and she’s given lists to her friends of rusted things they should be on the lookout for. She’s collecting planter material for the sale. Love it!

  7. June 27, 2011 5:54 pm

    What a fabulous visit! Always fun to see how other folks combine things.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 27, 2011 6:35 pm

      I agree… and to find other rust-lovers was a treat!

  8. Vickie Perez permalink
    June 28, 2011 6:16 am

    I would like to thank all for the comments about our goodies and my planters.
    Am pleased that things I started doing to amuse myself is giving others smiles.
    In the process of making more as folks help me find bits and pieces.
    I am looking forward to the sale and meeting more like minded people.


    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 28, 2011 12:07 pm

      I’m looking forward to the sale, too, Vickie! …and can’t wait to see what you come up with … thanks for commenting.

  9. shelly weaver permalink
    July 6, 2011 5:03 am

    I have lived across the street from Vicki and Tom for 20+ years now. I am glad to see someone has recognized the talent I have watched in them over the years. We always knew them as the people with the cool antique gas pump in the yard. Over the years of getting to know them and see their amazing creativity and art, it doesnt surprise me that someone has stumbled onto this hidden treasure that can appreciate who they are and what they do, if not only for their own joy of creating.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 6, 2011 5:12 am

      Shelly, thanks for such a great comment. I do feel lucky to have met both Vicki and Tom and look forward to seeing what Vicki comes with for our sale! They are both amazingly creative and I find them really inspiring …

  10. Vickie Perez permalink
    July 11, 2011 5:55 am

    Listening to you two is a little scary! I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations. I do think that a couple of ideas I have will tickle your fancies. Now to get these pieces I’m working with to cooperate and become what I’m seeing in my mind’s eye.

    Wish me luck!!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 11, 2011 12:14 pm

      Vickie, I wish you nothing but luck but my advice is: have fun! Just do what feels good and have fun with the materials … I can guarantee the best stuff will come out of your endeavors if you do!

  11. Vickie Perez permalink
    July 12, 2011 8:51 pm

    Thanks! I’m sure that all these “pieces” I’ve got staring at me will eventually tell me just how they want to go together. The trick is to get them to agree with what I’m seeing in that mind’s eye that I mentioned before.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 12, 2011 8:53 pm

      Ha! My stuff pushes back whe I’m putting things together too — Nice to know I’m not the only one working with pushy stuff!

  12. Vickie Perez permalink
    July 14, 2011 5:23 am

    I so agree! I had to quit earlier beause we didn’t agree on who was going to be where. Especially uncomfortable with some of these prickly ones. Oh well, it’s what I get for becoming fond of these types of plants.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 14, 2011 12:07 pm

      Ha! A disagreement with a prickly one … happens all the time here… and I’ve got the scars to prove it!

  13. Vickie Perez permalink
    July 16, 2011 9:36 pm

    Just got home from Downtown Farmers Mkt. Heard that you were just at the succulent dealer there. Had to get some of his plants on sale to help fill in my planters. I’m not wanting to totally strip my yard. Anyway it was fun. It seems the more I learn about these the more I like. Especially the stranger the better!

    Anyway it would have been good to see you.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 16, 2011 10:19 pm

      HI, Vickie … Mike Dignan, the succulent guy, is a friend and in fact he’ll be selling his great plants at our sale in September. Sorry, I missed you at the the Far-Mar!

  14. Vickie Perez permalink
    July 17, 2011 5:48 am

    I have gotten plants from him in the past and have always enjoyed talking with him. He mentioned your sale when I said something about making these planters and your sale. As I’m sure that you noticed that I’m a bit of a blabber mouth when I get excited when talking with someone who also enjoys what I’m doing.

    It’s nice to know when this sale is to be.. I’m glad there will be time for all these new plantings to take hold and be growing strong. I’ve managed to get some of them to cooperate with me and go into the places I want them. Could it be the influence of the full moon? Didn’t folks to say to plant with the phases of the moon? Anyway, we’ll see if it works with succulents.

    Have a great day tomorrow!

    Take care

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 17, 2011 9:43 pm

      Hey, Vickie… it’s not called being a blabber mouth, think of it as publicity! Yes, Mike’s a nice guy and he’s got great plants and prices … I was going to have the sale sooner but the heat’s got me crazy so it’ll be better for everyone concerned if we have it when it’s cooler … ; )

  15. Vickie Perez permalink
    July 19, 2011 6:18 am

    Thanks! I have been told that I talk too much enough that I let it carry over over into other areas. My Mom used to say that when I got excited that I would get oral diarrhea. She sure was right. And I’ve never out grown it. Oh well!

    I don’t blame you in regard to the heat! I tend to try working after dinner or when the heat starts to cool off. But then you get the bugs. But I manage with bug lanterns. I hope that September will cool off. With the long spring, here’s to hoping that summer doesn’t copy it! Maybe I shouldn’t have said that….


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