Working with his hands and the earth at Giles Nursery

Driving along Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow, you might notice kinetic sculptures made from recycled shovels turning with the wind.

They’re among several metal creations that dot the landscape outside Giles Nursery.

What you might not realize is that they’re the handcrafted work of nursery owner Eric Giles, whose home and workshop are also located on the property.

Every one of his sculptures is made from recycled materials.

“I like the fact that I can take any resource and create something out of it,” Mr. Giles said.

He’s been designing one-of-a-kind sculptures for about 20 years and, since he and his wife, Rebecca, opened their business nearly a decade ago, has been selling them from a gallery there. His passion is to work with his hands and be in touch with nature. He also makes furniture from recycled wood and pieces of deconstructed lawn mowers and tractors, or anything metal he can get his hands on.

While he and his wife run the nursery full time, Mr. Giles still spends much of his time creating art. Inside the gallery, you’ll find a handful of finished chairs and tables, along with pottery and jewelry made by Ms. Giles.

The console-style tables are made from different types of wood, featuring different colors and textures. They have metal or wood bases and measure up to eight feet long by 24 inches wide.

Eric Giles inside his Baiting Hollow workshop. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

Mr. Giles said most people who walk into the gallery are surprised by what they find.

“It doesn’t really matter if they buy something,” he said. “Just the gratification that I’m making something that people enjoy looking at.”

Mr. Giles grew up in St. James and began learning how to propagate plants at age 13. From there, his love for nature grew. His parents, both teachers, would often take the family on summer vacations to national parks, where Mr. Giles loved to soak up the beauty of the outdoors.

“I kind of wanted to take that beauty with me wherever I went,” he said.

Among his first stops was Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, where he earned an art degree. His wife, also an art major, graduated from Maine College of Art and shares the same values.

They said they enjoy their lifestyle because they generate very little waste. Everything that’s created on their property comes from objects they already possess. The couple purchases very little and throws out even less.

When they were first married, they worked as landscapers. Mr. Giles would scour the neighborhoods where he worked on recycling day and pick up items along the way. An old lawn mower, a barbecue or an umbrella someone threw out were all objects he could turn into art.

“I never understood why something couldn’t be fixed or repurposed,” he said.

One of Mr. Giles’ sculptures. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

While he decorates his own home with sculptures he’s made, he also sells furniture in his gallery and will create custom pieces for clients who come in with their own recycled materials.

His wife said he can spend all day in his workshop.

“I feel that my husband is incredibly gifted,” she said. “It’s amazing the different ranges of creativity that he can achieve.”

Ms. Giles said she’ll stay up late waiting for her husband to come in but she won’t interrupt him, because she knows the next day she’ll walk into the workshop to find something amazing.

“We’re incredibly blessed to be able to make a living off of what we’re doing, using [our] minds to create things, living off of our hands,” Ms. Giles said.

Those principles are also being passed down to the next generation, as the couple educates their two young children about a lifestyle of recycling and working with the earth.

Mr. Giles said he also thinks his lifestyle has rubbed off on the community around him. He often comes home to find piles of materials he can use, dropped off by neighbors eager to see what he’ll make of them.

“They see the joy in what we do and they appreciate that,” Mr. Giles said. “Without those people, I would not be able to do what I do and make what I make.”