Turning Trash into Treasure
Story and Photography by Laurie McCall
Turning Trash into Treasure
I spend almost every morning sitting on my back steps, drinking coffee and admiring my neighbor’s fence. It’s like a mini folk art gallery filled with colorful flowers (below) made from hubcaps and cookie tin lids, fish made from pieces of corrugated metal, painted windows, a creature made from discarded rakes and valentines, along with a plethora of other whimsical pieces. Most of it she makes herself, with a few exceptions. Each morning, I like to try to figure out if Ms. Molly has added anything new. People ride down our street just to check out her fence. They come on golf carts and bicycles and sometimes on foot.
The artist is Molly Carrington. It is literally like her imagination is just too big for her tiny body. It sprouts from the top of her head, overflows to her clothes, decorates the inside of her house, and festoons into her yard, and sometimes, when I get lucky, it runs off into my yard as well, and I come home to discover a newly planted flower made from old dishes, or a chair turned into a planter, complete with a flowering vine already being trained to grow up my palm tree.
“I’ve been creative as long as I can remember,” Molly said. “When I was little I used to have those paper dolls, but I was never happy with their clothes,” which were no doubt too boring for Ms. Molly’s taste. “So I made clothes for them, and then I made them buildings and towns.” Nowadays Ms. Molly is known for her yard art, all of which is created from items she finds at thrift stores. She makes the rounds at least once a week, trying to hit each one in the area, her favorite being The Litter Box. “They have the best variety, and the people are so friendly. They know I make all this weird stuff, so they keep an eye open, and when I walk in, they are excited to point things out to me, and of course, the money helps the babies,” she said, referring to the animals.
When unique items catch her attention, Molly just knows she wants to make something, but it’s often her dreams that show her what to make and compel her to create. “I have the most vivid dreams! Once I had a dream that I was a washing machine, but I was broken and my owners were so upset, so they called Maytag. The Maytag repairman came, and he took off the front of the machine, and there I was. He gave me a physical, looking in my mouth and in my ears, making sure my reflexes still worked, and then he told my owners, ‘She’s become unbalanced. With all the bouncing around she came unplugged, but if you can keep her balanced, she’ll be fine.’ I thought that was the best dream!”
After listening to Ms. Molly describe her favorite creations, I decided a glossary was necessary.
Ms. Molly’s Creative Glossary
Phone Bag: A cute little purse made from neckties, just big enough to hold your cell phone, license, debit card, cash and a key.
Rain Tree: A magical blue tree made from a plant stand wrapped in tin and snow tire chains with metal wreaths wired to the top, dripping with crystals and beads and chimes.
Dream Stretchers: The opposite of a dream catcher, a dream stretcher helps to stretch out your good dreams—made from a stick or pipe decorated with hanging crystals, chimes, keys, silverware, or anything else you can dream up.
Handbag: An over-the-shoulder bag shaped like an oversized hand, complete with painted fingernails and decorated with repurposed jewels to look like rings or bracelets.
Blue Moon: A serving plate spray-painted blue and decorated with pieces of broken glass and blue stones.
Favorite color: “Rainbow is my favorite color. I got that from Amos Hummel. I love bright colors and polka-a-dots.”
Dress for Creative Success: Ms. Molly likes to dress crazy, with wild socks and patterned shoes. “It makes me happy, and it makes people smile. It’s a conversation starter. Plus, when you wear long socks with shorts it also helps keep the bugs from eating you to death.”
Community: One time Ms. Molly made snowmen out of cookie tin lids for everyone on her whole street, hanging them late at night so that everyone woke up to a snowy surprise.
Children: Ms. Molly has two fur babies, Alphie and Max. Alphie is a Coroodleshelt (a corgi/ poodle/ sheltie mix), and Max is a boxer/ pit/ lab mix whom Alphie picked out for the family to adopt from the Palmetto Animal League.