Introduction: Junkyard Dog

I love junk and I love dogs. I'm a reuse artist and try to support sustainability through the aesthetic and functional redemption of abandoned objects. Most of my materials I've collected from the dump and free piles, been gifted, or sometimes found at thrift stores.

Remember ... It's Garbage Can, not Garbage Cannot!


Old theater seats
Fallen log(s)
Wood and metal shoe forms and stretchers
Various gears from inside of other things
Odd home decor
Opera glasses
Metal serving tray

Step 1: Inspiration

All my pieces start with an inspiration piece – a bit of junk with a shape that reminds me of something. In this case it was some old rusty theater seat sides that a friend gave me. The shapes of the swing mechanisms that fold the seats were obviously a dog's front legs and hip joints in a "Let's Play!" bow. Don't you think?
This is Bodhi, posing for reference.

Step 2: Taking Apart the Seats

I removed the "front legs" and "hip joints" sanded off some of the rust and dirt and cleaned them. I knew I wanted some more roundness and width to the hips and decided to use these 2 copper oil lamps I found in the dump to flesh them out a bit.

Step 3: Body

I like the juxtaposition of organic and mechanical, metal and wood. I wanted to body to be wood and Long Dog and I went for a walk in the woods to find the perfect J-shaped fallen log for the body and a twisty stick for the tail. I carved off the bigger knots and shaped the log with a carving attachment on the angle grinder, then sanded it smooth with a sanding attachment. I think the organic twisting shape of the body gives the dog a sense of movement I couldn't get with a block of wood.

He just had a good time walking in the woods and giving me his opinion.

Step 4: Front Legs

For the front legs, I cut the front tips of the wooden shoe stretchers and the back of the metal shoe stretchers off with the angle grinder cut-off wheel. I also separated the backs of the wooden shoes to use later for the back legs.
I cut a slot in the wooden tips, then attached the back of the metal pieces to the wood with screws.
They already had the holes in them – bonus! I also added a strip of copper sheet over the seam.
The slot in the wooden tips fit snugly over the front leg pieces but I "glued" them in place with JB-weld.

Step 5: Back Legs

For the back legs, I cut a slot in the copper lamp for the side of the seat mechanism to slide into and drilled a hole in the other side for a bolt to go through. This really rounded out the hip joint.

I also used old yarn spindles, the heels of the wooden shoe stretchers, rusty ceramic casters and 2 more metal shoe stretchers.

The wooden heels already had holes in both the top and bottom and the spindles and casters fit perfectly with a little deeper drilling, some glue and a small piece of aluminum pipe to add length to the spindle. The spindles were glued and screwed into the L-shaped side of the hip joint piece.

Step 6: Head

For the head, I used a strange home decor pear (?) I found at Goodwill. I cut off the leaf from the top but left a bit of the stem. The pear came apart for storing God knows what and I wanted a little separation to add depth so I added a ring from around an small globe between the two. It's got nice colors and mappy stuff on it – cool! I also found what I think is a modern paper towel holder – a stainless steel strip with rubber balls at either end. Perfect nose. I cut one end off, attached the rubber ball to the pear stem then screwed the end of the metal piece to the pear.
The ears are made of yet another metal shoe stretcher top cut in half and attached to some decorative pieces of an old metal serving tray from the dump. I attached them to the back of the head with the focusing mechanism from inside of a pair of opera glasses and added some little gears on top.

Then I drilled a hole in the back of the head and a hole in the top of the log "neck" and attached the head to the body using a piece of metal that I think was part of a framework for a hobby horse. The bit of metal between the two "arms" leaves a nice space between the body and the head and the fit into the holes is snug enough to allow the head to swivel a bit. The ears can move too for different expressions.

Step 7: Putting It All Together

I attached the back and front legs to the body with long bolts through the existing holes in the tops of each leg. I added a few gears and washers to add to the steampunk, mechanical aesthetic. The half gears on each shoulder are from an antique cash register I found and took apart.
All the legs can be loosened to adjust position and height.
I attached the tail with a connecting bolt, with a few added a few gears in between tail and body.

For final touches I swiped the silvery metal of the ear tops, snout and front feet with a little bit of burnt orange alcohol ink which gives them a golden sheen.

Step 8: Introduce Junkyard Dog to Friends

For size reference this is Junkyard Dog on the same bed as Bodhi.

Trash to Treasure Contest

Second Prize in the
Trash to Treasure Contest