If you came across any of Barbara Sanderson’s work in a garden, you might think you’d stepped into Alice’s Wonderland. The Seattle-based glass blower crafts flowers, arbors, lights and fountains for natural settings, aiming to create a magical, otherworldly tableau.
“I love to add another dimension to what already exists,” she says.
Art created for the outdoors can bring drama and design to a garden or patio. Sheila Jeffrey, a landscape designer from Collingwood, Ontario, suggests thinking of outdoor space as you would a room, with a floor, walls and ceiling.
“As with interior art, consider the overall theme or feel of the space when you’re choosing outdoor accents,” she says.
“Walls or fences are often overlooked and are a great place for an interesting focal point.”
For wall art, consider vintage objects, such as picture frames, mirrors, cast iron grates, architectural elements or antique signs as outdoor wall art.
Arrange groupings of small vessels like planted terra cotta pots, buckets or paint cans. Put themed vignettes on shelves.
“Vintage ’60s metal wall sculptures are a favorite of mine,” says Jeffrey, “and you can often find them at yard sales. Clear-coat them with a good exterior-grade polyurethane before displaying.”
Sanderson’s inspiration for making outdoor pieces comes from fond memories of visiting her grandfather’s English garden as a teenager.
“I spent some time gazing into his pond, appreciating the soothing sound that water makes in a garden setting,” Sanderson recalls. “I returned home determined to create a water feature for myself. That was the beginning of my focus on garden artwork.”
She forms glass into colorful, plump little birds that can be placed in a found nest, or in one of Sanderson’s spun-glass nests. Pitcher plants in vibrant hues of gold and carmine, mounted on copper rods, catch the rain.
There are Seussian fiddlehead ferns and mushrooms, as well as colorful “glacicles” rigged with lights to line a path or poolside.
And for a pond or birdbath, Sanderson has created the “bee preserver,” a glass ball studded with glass nubs so that bees have something on which to rest when they’re drinking. (www.glassgardensnw.com)
Margie Grace, a landscape designer in Santa Monica, California, often incorporates salvaged elements like driftwood, branches and stones into her projects. They can be used to make mosaics and interesting screens. She used an old metal bed as a planter, with flowers as the “pillows” and “quilt.” Her fondness for functional art led her to create a “canalito,” a canal made from stones that carries away stormwater, while winding artfully around trees and beds.
“Art can evoke the very nature of a place,” she says, pointing out a kinetic sculpture in a hill-top garden that mimics the pelicans soaring off a nearby bluff. (www.gracedesignassociates.com)
If your balcony or backyard has no view, consider one of Gizaun Art’s wooden wall panels. The Portland, Oregon-based studio uses all-weather, ultraviolet, translucent inks to apply photo images of flowers and landscapes onto red cedar boards, ready for hanging. Designs include sunflowers, lighthouses and landscapes. (www.gizaunart.com)
Wind and Weather stocks some backlit, punched art crafted from recycled metal drum lids in Bali. Choose from a zodiac, sun and moon, or several whimsical designs like cats on a moonlit fence, or a train chugging through a wintry night. (www.windandweather.com)
For a small terrace, the Trigg geometric container, designed by Moe Takemura for Umbra, might be just the thing. The sleek, diamond-shaped ceramic or concrete-resin vessels perch inside a slim brass frame. They could hold herbs, succulents or extra keys. (www.allmodern.com)