Scrap-metal art fills yard of hillside home

Scrap-metal art fills yard of hillside home

June 2nd, 2012 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

Trish Hayman walks past a group of restored retro chairs in bright colors.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Hayman built this 30-foot-tall swing/ windmill sculpture.

Hayman built this 30-foot-tall swing/ windmill sculpture.

In his job as an inspector with CTI Engineers Inc., Rossville's Les Hayman has to watch people work.

When he's done working, he's done watching.

Hayman's two-acre hillside home is full of his handiwork, from an 1865 log cabin he bought, disassembled and rebuilt in his yard to workable art he created from scrap metal.

The Ohio native blames it on his constitution.

"I've always been active," he said. "I think it's a lost art. People always used to work with their hands. If your hands are busy, you think better."

Hayman traded a farm tractor for the dilapidated cabin from a North Georgia friend several years ago, took it apart log by log and reassembled it behind his house. The cabin, which was occupied until 1971, once housed a moonshiner who went to prison for making the illegal hooch, he said.

He and his wife, Trish, added the base logs, chinking, wood floor, roof, electricity, plumbing and window frames he claimed off a junk truck going down Broad Street.

Today, Hayman's mother-in-law, Pauline Autherson, lives in the tidy one-room, 14- by 28-foot dwelling, which includes a kitchenette, bathroom, sitting area and bed.

"She loves it," he said. "She wouldn't trade it for a farm in Texas."

Up the hill a bit from Autherson's cabin is a wooden cottage of the exact same size that Mrs. Hayman designed and the couple built for his mother, Shirley Hayman.

They put $8,000-$10,000 into the Civil War-era cabin and about $18,000 into the newer abode, he said.

Between Autherson's home and the couple's compact house are what appear to be discarded remnants of an amusement park.

On one side of the driveway are a 30-foot tall windmill, which spins and turns and holds a two-seater swing; a motorized Ferris wheel for grandsons Logan and Will Fouts; a wooden, 12-foot swing; and a Hayman-named Krazy Rocker, which offers the head-over-heels thrill of a roller coaster.

On the other side of the driveway, near the edge of a goldfish pond and garden, are a one-quarter scale metal replica of the Wright Brothers' first airplane and a penny-farthing bicycle.

The age in which some of the items -- the bicycle (1871), the Ferris wheel (1893), the airplane (1903) and his next project, a motorcycle (late 19th century) -- were invented is appealing to him, Hayman said.

"I like that age of invention," he said.

Hayman fabricated the items in his workshop from the likes of steel reels left over from jobs on which his company worked, scrap box tubing and a hoop from a rotted-out railroad wagon.

The windmill even includes the axle from a wrecked Jeep he owned.

The Krazy Rocker, a steel reel with a seat that Hayman designed without plans, is so well-balanced it allows the seated individual to tilt almost to the point of rolling over backwards but won't.

He made three other rockers and thought about marketing them but realized he probably wouldn't be able to sell them for the money he had in them.

Hayman designed the orange Wright Brothers plane from a tiny model he bought off eBay. Its working motor blows enough air to keep insects away from a deck off the side of his home.

One additional scrap metal-crafted item, Bob, a gold robot, is made from a former hot-water heater and stands guard at the edge of his long driveway. In Bob's metal hands is a plate reading: "Nudist colony ... thought you'd slow down."

In addition to the metal items he made, Hayman also has repurposed a dozen or so original 1950s metal chairs, repainted them in a variety of bright colors and parked them on the back porch around a table he made.

Adjacent to the table and chairs is a red and white glider from the same era that he refurbished. The glider, he said, "was more of a challenge." He bought it for $50 at the annual World's Longest Yard Sale on Highway 127 and put 80 hours of work into it.

Inside, the Haymans have decorated their home with popular vintage 1950s furniture, antiques and heirloom pieces from their families.

"It started with [purchasing] Fiestaware," he said.

It fits, Trish Hayman pointed out, because their house was built in the '50s. Further, they are products of the era, both having been born in 1959.

Among the original midcentury pieces they've purchased are a turquoise Frigidaire stove, an orange, round Eames chair, a Haywood-Wakefield dining set and hutch, a pair of George Nelson ball clocks and a Sputnik lamp.

They've paired those with items such as a Hoosier cabinet, a 1939 World's Fair toaster, his great-grandfather's flat-wall cabinet, neon clock, World War II-era Black Forest cuckoo clock and a handful of decorative oil lamps.

"It reminds me of childhood," Hayman said of their surroundings.