Where to Find Fish in Destin

So, you're planning a vacation and you need to know where to find fish in Destin? This post is for you.

 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Go to the Gulfarium - Since August 1955, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has been a great place to see marine life up-close, where education and entertainment come together for a unique experience. It's about 10 minutes west of the Destin harbor. The whole family will enjoy the Gulfarium!

Go Snorkeling - There are quite a few good places to snorkel around Destin. Three popular spots are the jetties, Gulf Islands National Seashore, and South Walton's artificial reef.

Go Fishing - If you'd rather catch fish than swim with them, you're in the right place. Destin didn't get the nickname "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" for no reason! Try the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, the jetties, or right from the beach. If you choose the beach, be respectful of people swimming! Nobody likes swimming next to fish guts.

Rent a Boat - If you're vacationing in Destin, I suggest renting a boat to access the best fishing spots. Don't wait until the last minute! Boating is very popular here, and boats often get booked months in advance.

Fishing Charters - If you'd rather take the guesswork out of it, a charter boat will be your best bet. It'll cost you more money, but you'll have local experts lead you to the right places.

Fishing Report - If you're a fishing enthusiast, you'll definitely want to use this chart, which tells you what you can find both inshore and offshore in the Destin area throughout the year.

Visit Andy's Art Gallery - If you like fish, you should definitely make a trip to Andy's Grayton Beach art gallery, which is located 20 minutes east of the Silver Sands Premium Outlets. He has some beautiful fish art, most of which are mixed media assemblage pieces that really need to be seen in person to fully appreciate. For example, here are a few pieces available for purchase now:

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If you have any questions about this artwork or want to make a purchase, call Andy directly at (850) 502-0072.

Lori
Custom Art: Snowboarder Art

Check out this custom snowboarder art Andy just finished! A family gave Andy a photo of their daughter in Park City, Utah. They said they wanted a mixed media piece based on this photo. Luckily, a friend had donated an old snowboard to Andy awhile back. Lucky coincidence, huh?

This life-size piece is 37 inches wide (with the board), and 63 inches tall. The Chicago Blackhawks logo is attached to a record player and still has the ability to spin. Pretty fun piece!

Lori
Mahi Mahi Mixed Media

Andy's most recent assemblage art is a mahi mahi mixed media piece. In addition to layered wood and house paint, a few unusual and unexpected found objects were included. If you take a closer look, you'll find items such as...

  • antique luggage
  • antique egg beater
  • old vise grip
  • door lock
  • parts of one of Andy's "tree easels"

This is one piece you definitely need to see in person to fully appreciate. Come by Andy's Grayton Beach gallery during regular business hours (weekdays 10 AM - 5 PM or Saturdays by appointment).

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Lori
Win this Painting at "Living Loved" with Lysa TerKeurst

Join us on April 7th, 5:30-9:30 PM, at Destiny Worship Center for LIVING LOVED with guest speaker Lysa TerKeurst! $10 raffle tickets may be purchased at the event with an opportunity to win this original painting valued at $1800. Winner will be announced at 9:30 PM. Proceeds will go to local pregnancy support and adoption support via Bethany Christian Services on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

original painting by Andy Saczynski
original painting by Andy Saczynski
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Lori
A Closer Look at Andy's Assemblage Art

It's hard to see everything that's happening in Andy's assemblage art pieces when I take a straight-on photo with the camera. So, sometimes I like to take photos from different angles so you can tell how many layers and what sort of objects each piece includes. This post highlights three of his mixed media assemblage pieces.

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Napoleon the 2nd contains layered wood, metal scraps, keys, and other found objects. He resides at The Bay, one of our favorite restaurants in South Walton. You can see him proudly displayed in their private dining room.

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Anglerfish contains layered wood, a functional light bulb, a crutch, piano keys, pipe organ parts, a paintbrush, metal, parts of a Christmas tree stand, and other found objects. 

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The Professor contains layered wood, scrap metal, a toy airplane, lawn tools, a record, piano keys, pipe organ parts, and other found objects. He was recently the guest of honor at South Walton High School. 

Lori
Visiting the South Walton High School Art Department
 Andy as a high school senior and Andy now 

Andy as a high school senior and Andy now 

Yesterday Andy and I visited the South Walton High School art department. Their instructor, Dr. Vivian Komando, was Andy's art teacher many years ago at Niceville High School. We have kept in touch, and she recently asked us if we'd be willing to speak to her AP and Pre AP art students.

If you read this blog post and/or this article in VIE Magazine, you know how influential Dr. Komando was in Andy's life. Much of what she taught him, he still uses every day. So, we were happy to visit her classroom and share with her students about life as an artist.

Andy told them about what inspires him and what kind of materials he likes to use. We showed them examples of his work on his web site, and he brought one original so they could see how he creates mixed media assemblage pieces.

Since I handle the business aspect of his gallery, I spoke to the students about how to have a career in art. I provided them with 12 important steps, information I wish someone had handed us when Andy was their age.

Hopefully we inspired these young creative minds. We want them to know how their unique talent is valued in the world. We want to see artists thrive.

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Lori
Mixed Media Art

When people first meet Andy and find out he's an artist, their first question is usually, "What kind of art do you make?" And we usually reply, "It's easier for us to show you rather than tell you." His work is loosely called mixed media art, but that term is so broad. Mixed media art refers to a work of visual art that combines various traditionally distinct visual art media. More specifically, his work can be described as assemblage art, or sculptures that can be hung on a wall. This post highlights some of Andy's most recent mixed media art. The pieces can be as simple as layered wood. Or they can include objects such as scrap metal, antique kitchen appliances, deconstructed musical instruments, and working light bulbs. What might look like worthless junk to some people, Andy can manipulate and connect in impressive ways. For example, can you tell what objects were used in the four faces (masks) below?

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And what about these three saltwater animals - an anglerfish, an alligator, and a sailfish?

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If you're interested in purchasing any of these unique pieces, call Andy at (850) 502-0072.

Lori
What's New at Andy's Art Gallery

Happy New Year! Andy's art gallery moved into Shops of Grayton in March 2015. I can't believe we've been in our little blue cottage almost two years! We are so thankful to have this space for Andy to create and share his work. He started pursuing art as a full-time career seven years ago and opened his first gallery five years ago. In this way, 2017 feels significant to me. I'm looking forward to what this year will bring. We wanted to share some of what's been going on lately at Andy's art gallery. Although you usually hear from me (his wife) on his blog, in this post you'll hear directly from Andy...

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What do you usually listen to while painting? I always listen to Pandora on shuffle. Some of the random artists I like are John Coltrane, Soulive, The Sea and Cake, Groundation, Brent Berry Band, ALO, Galactic, The New Master Sounds, and Jimi Hendrix. The list goes on, but that's what has been in my shuffle most recently.

How long does it take to complete a piece of your art? It always varies based on the complexity of a piece. Some stuff I begin months, even years, ahead and then put it aside for awhile. A lot of the sculptural assemblage pieces tend to take longer. I have between three and seven pieces going at once.

What do you think influences your work the most? Over the past few years, I have settled into my own style. I can't think of anything specific that influences my work. It's more like my art is an extension of me. It's a form of communication... an inward feeling and an outward expression.

What have you been working on most recently? I ended 2016 and began 2017 with some figurative paintings (seen below).

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To purchase any of these pieces, call Andy at (850) 502-0072 or stop by his gallery during regular business hours.

Lori
Andy Saczynski's Earliest Works

It's been almost seven years since Andy started to pursue art as a full-time career, but he was an artist long before 2010! He fell in love with drawing way back in elementary school and never stopped creating.

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Andy in 1985

Below are a few of Andy Saczynski's earliest works.

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Andy painted this colorful piece in 1993 while he was in 10th grade at Niceville High School. According to Andy, this is the piece that changed his life. His teacher was Mrs. Vivian Komando, and he credits her with teaching him how to paint a smooth line. It's a technique he still uses in all of his pieces today.

 Andy in 1995

Andy in 1995

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Based off a photo he took while we were in Colorado, this was the first piece Andy painted while he was a student at Okaloosa Walton Community College (Painting 1 in Fall 1995). He attended the college on a fine arts scholarship, and took four art classes under the teaching of the late Arnie Hart, including Painting 1 & 2 and Drawing 1 & 2. Hart taught at the college from 1966 until his untimely death in 1999. His wife Jean and several friends established the Arnie Hart Art Scholarship Endowment in his memory to honor his longtime devotion to his students. Andy feels fortunate to have learned from such an incredible teacher. During his Drawing 1 class (Fall 1995), Andy had an opportunity to complete two 20-minute sketches of Mr. Hart, as you see below (unfortunately, something spilled on one of them).

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Also in the fall of 1995, Andy drew this face during his free time, which he named Split Personality.

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In the spring of 1997, Andy took 2D Design with Lynn Rackley at OWCC. Here are two of the paper collages Andy completed while in her class.

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Much of what Andy learned in both his high school and college art classes set the foundation for him. Since leaving OWCC in 1997, he has been self-taught.

Lori
National Cat Day: Meet Mr. Hill

National Cat Day was founded in 2005 and is celebrated every year on October 29th. This "holiday" seems like the perfect time to introduce you to Mr. Hill and his girlfriend Blackie (no, I didn't name either of them).

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Over the years, we've spotted quite a few feral cats hanging out around Shops of Grayton and Mystic Porte. Most of the them are shy around humans, so you can only see them from a distance. However, Mr. Hill is friendly and loves people.

You can usually find Mr. Hill relaxing in the shade near Andy's art gallery and the other cottages. He gladly accepts petting and sweet talk, and shows his appreciation by purring.

Earlier this year, Mr. Hill got friendly with another feral cat, and she appears to now be his girlfriend. Blackie is very shy. She's only let me pet her once! A couple weeks ago we were open late and had the doors propped open to enjoy the breeze. Mr. Hill walked right into the gallery, with his girlfriend following. She immediately got scared and walked right back out, so he followed her after saying hello to everyone.

Next time you visit Shops of Grayton, be on the lookout for Mr. Hill. Be sure to tell him he's handsome and scratch behind his ears!

Lori
Fish Head Mixed Media Assemblage Art

Have you seen Andy's most recent mixed media assemblage art in the shape of a face? It's named Fish Head because of the fish jumping out the top of his head.

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There are a lot of interesting objects used in this piece, including piano keys, an egg beater, a shutter, skateboard parts, guitar parts, sheet metal, door hardware, grandfather clock parts, and hinges.

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It also features a light bulb, so it can be used as a rather elaborate sconce.

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Andy completed this piece on October 12th. It's 39 inches wide by 63 inches tall, and can be yours for $1500. Call Andy at (850) 502-0072 if you want to purchase Fish Head.

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Lori
Slow Down

Slow down... The last several weeks and days have evaporated before my eyes. I don't think I've been in denial that our daughter was moving, but rather it hasn't been my focus. My focus has been taking every opportunity to catch hours and even minutes with Taylor, knowing that this day was coming.

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Tomorrow Andy and I will move our firstborn 6.5 hours away. Taylor, along with a group of friends, are moving to Spring Hill, Tennessee to help plant a church. Most of the group either went through Emerge Leadership Academy with her in 2015-2016 or completed the program in prior years. I can't think of a better group of people for her to be relocating with, or for a better reason. My excitement for her next chapter outweighs my sadness that she's leaving, but it's still going to be a major transition for our family. I think any parent knows that tears can be simultaneously joyful and sad.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Surely you've heard that phrase. As a mother to five kids, there were many years that I felt like I was drowning. It's exhausting having a house full of young children. It's hard to soak in the tender moments when you're on autopilot, just getting through each day with everyone fed and clean. Surviving, but not necessarily thriving.

And then suddenly it's over.

Events such as the first day of kindergarten feel so distant, yet are as vivid as something that happened yesterday. How can that chapter already be over, when it still feels so fresh? What I wouldn't give for one more day of "little girl" Taylor, to have that little hand wrapped in mine, to hear her little voice mispronounce words in the most adorable way.

We are so very proud of the young woman Taylor has become. We are proud of her decision to go through Emerge Leadership Academy, her desire to help plant a church, and her choice of who to date. I'm thrilled for Taylor and Landry as they step into this new season... but dang, if we won't miss them both living five minutes away.

 Taylor + her boyfriend Landry 

Taylor + her boyfriend Landry 

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The song Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman does a wonderful job of expressing my feelings today...

Slow down

Won't you stay here a minute more

I know you want to walk through the door

But it's all too fast

Let's make it last a little while

I pointed to the sky and now you wanna fly

I am your biggest fan

I hope you know I am

But do you think you can somehow

Slow down

Lori
7 Reasons to Buy Original Art

I could surely think of many more, but I've narrowed it down to my top 7 reasons to buy original art. I've also included photos from some of Andy's past customers.

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#1 - Show Your Personality - What does your art say about you? Are you serious or playful? Fancy or fun? Does your art communicate a memory or emotion? Art is a great tool to show your personality throughout your home.

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#2 - Share a Story - Every piece of art has a story behind it, which is why many people connect with art on a personal level. This can be a special reminder for yourself, or a conversation starter with guests.

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#3 - Choose the Size - Perhaps you have specific size limitations... no problem! When you buy art directly from an artist, you can request a custom size to fit your space perfectly.

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#4 - Select Your Colors - When you buy art directly from an artist, you can also request your color palette. Many times, we have a customer or their decorator provide us with paint and/or fabric samples so their art truly has a custom look.

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#5 - Own a One-of-a-Kind - Pieces of original art can be similar, but never duplicated. When you own original art, you can be sure that no one else in the world has exactly the same piece.

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#6 - Grow Your Collection - Sadly, we've had a few family members pass away this year. From our personal experience, most things don't have much sentimental value. However, original artwork and family photographs are certainly items that are cherished. Not only can you enjoy your original art, but your loved ones will also appreciate your collection for generations to come.

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#7 - Support an Artist - Those who create are a special gift to society. Whether their medium is art, music, or design, supporting these creative people enables them to continue making beautiful things for all of us to enjoy.

Lori
Octopus Paintings in Three Styles

If you've followed Andy for the last year or so, you've probably seen several of his octopus paintings. His octopus art has been pretty popular, so he usually has at least one original piece in stock, in addition to 11x17-inch octopus prints. Right now he has three pieces of octopus artwork available, with each style being quite different:

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If you are interested in purchasing one of Andy's octopus paintings, call him at (850) 502-0072.

Cool facts about octopuses:

  • Young octopuses learn almost no behaviors from their parents. Why? Dads die shortly after mating, and moms die within weeks or months after their eggs hatch.
  • The typical life span of an octopus is between 3–5 years.
  • They are highly intelligent. Maze and problem-solving experiments have shown evidence of a memory system that can store both short- and long-term memory.
  • They have soft bodies, with no internal or external skeleton, so they can squeeze into impossibly small cracks and crevices.
  • Though octopuses can be difficult to keep in captivity, some people keep them as pets. They often escape even from supposedly secure tanks, due to their problem-solving skills, mobility, and lack of rigid structure.
  • Mimic octopuses are capable of changing their body shape to mimic other animals.
  • Octopuses have four pairs of arms. If they lose an arm to escape a predator's grasp, they can re-grow it later with no permanent damage.
  • All octopuses are venomous, but only the small blue-ringed octopuses are known to be deadly to humans.
Lori
Artist of the Month at 45 Central

45 Central Wine Bar is located in the heart of Seaside. Award-winning chef and owner, Jim Shirley, has succeeded once again in creating an atmosphere and menu that, in our opinion, sets the bar for South Walton. We absolutely love his other two restaurants, Great Southern Cafe and The Bay, which are popular with both locals and tourists. When Andy was asked to be 45 Central's Artist of the Month for September, we happily agreed. The artist reception was held today, 4:00-6:00 PM. The Weather Channel had caused a slight panic regarding Hurricane Hermine traveling through the Gulf of Mexico, so we were a bit concerned that the artist reception would be a bust. Thankfully, the rain stopped and we had several people make an appearance. If you missed the artist reception, no worries! Andy's art will be displayed at 45 Central throughout the month of September.

 Andy with Jim Shirley 

Andy with Jim Shirley 

Lori
Thanks for the Guitar, Ben May Designs

The highlight of this piece is a guitar given to Andy by our friend Ben May, owner of Ben May Designs. Ben is an excellent musician, so it was fun to get one of his old guitars to use in a piece of art. Like Andy, Ben also makes beautiful, one-of-a-kind creations. While Andy usually makes wall art, Ben's products are custom furniture and built-ins. At first glance, it may look like paint, but Andy created the detail work on Ben's guitar with a Dremel tool to give it texture. The piece also includes piano and organ parts, a partial city scene, and a few birds that you may recognize from other musically-themed pieces Andy has made.

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Ben May's Guitar measures 28x52 inches, and is available for $2200. Please call or text Andy at (850) 502-0072 to purchase. And if you're in the market for custom furniture or built-ins, don't forget to check out Ben's incredible work.

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Lori
Death and Life are in the Power of the Tongue

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." (Proverbs 18:21 KJV) "Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit — you choose." (Proverbs 18:21 MSG)

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Proverbs 18:21 is the verse that inspired this piece.

Have you noticed the media the past few years? It seems like nearly every story showcases hate, anger, and violence. I'm not here to add to that noise. In fact, it's no coincidence that this piece includes a "noise suppressor."

I can tell you this... The reality that I see when I look around does not line up with the world the media tries to paint. I'm not suggesting that bad things aren't happening around our country and the world. But I do think there's more good than bad, despite the media's best efforts to convince us otherwise.

It's also no coincidence that this piece is named Victor. A victor is a person who defeats an enemy or opponent. But who's the real enemy? Is it really each other? I don't think so. And are we using our words to kill or give life? Victor knows that death and life are in the power of the tongue, so he's using his tongue to speak life by speaking love.

Victor measures 38x69 inches and is available for $1500. To purchase, call or text Andy at (850) 502-0072.

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Lori
2016 International Coastal Cleanup

The 2016 International Coastal Cleanup will be held September 17th. This annual event was started by Ocean Conservancy in a worldwide effort to clean up beaches. More than 18 million pounds of trash was collected by nearly 800,000 volunteers during the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup! To learn more about the International Coastal Cleanup, visit Ocean Conservancy's web site. Want to help locally? South Walton will be participating in the 2016 International Coastal Cleanup at several regional locations. For a complete list of locations and times, go to Visit South Walton's web site. Let's work together to keep our beaches awesome!

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Below are Andy's coastal themed pieces available now. Call or text him at (850) 502-0072 if you'd like to make a purchase.

Springtime Blues | 73x26 inches | $1800
Springtime Blues | 73x26 inches | $1800
Grande Sailfish | 106x45 inches | $2800
Grande Sailfish | 106x45 inches | $2800
Oscar | 68x59 inches | $2200
Oscar | 68x59 inches | $2200
Liono | 73x37 inches | $1800
Liono | 73x37 inches | $1800
Jellies | 50x45 inches | $1200
Jellies | 50x45 inches | $1200
Weathered Octopus | 58x44 inches | $2200
Weathered Octopus | 58x44 inches | $2200
Bartholomew | 80x55 inches | $2800
Bartholomew | 80x55 inches | $2800
Flying Fish | 51x46 inches | $1800
Flying Fish | 51x46 inches | $1800
Barney | 7 ft 6 in | $2000
Barney | 7 ft 6 in | $2000
Lori
LuLu's Destin Now Features Andy's Art

Since opening on June 15, 2015, LuLu's Destin has been a popular hangout for both locals and tourists. LuLu's is located at 4607 Legendary Marina Drive, by the foot of the Mid-Bay Bridge. The bayfront property features both indoor and outdoor seating, live music, outdoor entertainment for kids, and a place for boat "parking" for those arriving via water. It's a great place to hang out with your family and relax while watching the sunset. In late July, Andy was featured on 30A Live (watch the clip). The interview caught the attention of LuLu's and, long story short, they decided to purchase a piece of Andy's art to display in their restaurant. They did request one tiny change to the piece to add the LuLu's touch... If you see it now, it'll say GUMBO LOVE instead of AGAVE. The restaurant hopes to add more local art to their collection as time goes on. Andy and I are excited that he was the first to be included!

Next time you visit LuLu's Destin, look for Andy's art behind the stage. If you want to show the [gumbo] love, post a photo to Facebook and/or Instagram, and be sure to tag both Andy and LuLu's!

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Lori
Assemblage Art: Meet Wilson

Assemblage art is defined as an artistic form or medium usually created on a defined substrate that consists of three-dimensional elements projecting out of or from the substrate. It is similar to collage, a two-dimensional medium. It is part of the visual arts, and it typically uses found objects, but is not limited to these materials. (source: Wikipedia) Andy has made several pieces of assemblage face art over the years. Meet Wilson, his most recent piece of assemblage art in the shape of a face.

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Wilson is 38 inches wide and 67 inches tall, and can be purchased for $1500. Call or text Andy at (850) 502-0072 to make Wilson yours today.

Let's take a closer look at the many details that go into Wilson...

  • First, his name! The structure of his face is made with a Wilson tennis racquet, which belonged to Andy when he was a child.
  • One of his eyes is made with a cigar box, a door knob, and parts of a propane tank.
  • His other eye is made with a functional light bulb. Have you ever seen a more fascinating wall sconce?!
  • His mouth also features a functional light bulb.
  • Speaking of his mouth, it reminds me a bit of the Cheshire Cat. Do you agree?
  • Wilson's nose includes the leg of a chair that used to be in our daughter's room, before it broke.
  • Some other objects included on this piece are pipe organ parts, piano parts, and fence parts.

Below are a few closeup photos so you can see some of these details...

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Lori