95-year-old Ernie Taylor’s Sculptures Reflect Pure Artistic Enjoyment

Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / Krystal Dailey

For several decades, people traveling between Zionsville and Westfield on State Road 32 have been treated to a visual extravaganza of metal sculptures and whimsical yard art. The man behind it all is 95-year-old Ernie Taylor. His wife, Dottie, who passed away in 2019, had an aversion to going far from home. So Taylor made the best of it by turning their 25-acre hobby farm into a roadside showplace.Ernie Taylor

“We’ve got kind of a museum here,” Taylor says. “My wife wasn’t a good traveler. Instead of looking at a big, beautiful valley, she would be a nervous wreck. So I stayed busy doing other things. I started using old farm machinery, and at first I made small things like birds out of old shovels and alligators from files. The only problem was, if I made one of something, I’d have to make a dozen to give to relatives. It was fun.”

“I would buy things not knowing what I would do with them,” he continues. “We would go to tractor shows, flea markets and auctions, bringing a lot of good stuff back. Once, we went to one in Shelbyville and bought 200 spoons tied up in a bow. People said, ‘What are you going to do with them?’ I knew I’d think of something, and I ended up turning them into tulips.”

After retiring from being a welder, Taylor tackled bigger projects. Some of the most spectacular pieces on his property are the dinosaurs he crafted. He says it took him four or five years of driving around looking for parts before he got what he wanted to assemble them.

When asked which sculpture turned out to be surprising to him, Taylor says it’s a colorful globe. He was at an auction when he found a large metal framework and tank that had been used to take liquid fertilizer out to farm fields. After purchasing it for $10, he considered making it a big golf ball. Then it hit him that it would make a perfect globe.

Ernie TaylorAnother of his favorites is a bird with legs made from shovels, a body from bicycle parts and a head from an old sickle mower machine. Through the years many people have approached Taylor about buying his creations. No money has ever passed hands.

“I made things for other people to enjoy and I did give a lot away over the years,” he says. “If I had made them to sell, it would be work and not a hobby. Plus, people think that just because I make things out of old stuff, I wouldn’t charge much. They don’t realize what it costs in gas to bring the stuff in, and the time of welding parts together.”

Besides building sculptures, Taylor has delighted in having a couple of other hobbies in his life. One is playing the guitar. Although it was something he wanted to do most of his life, it did not come easy to him.

“I was 72 years old before I learned how to play,” he says. “I couldn’t get my right hand to do it. I couldn’t get the rhythm. One day I was listening to a friend play, and he handed me his guitar. He taught me ‘Old Rattler,’ a song about an old dog. It had just two chord changes. I hit that lick and the rhythm was there. I went out and bought a Fender guitar and for 20 years, up until COVID, I entertained at Signature HealthCARE at Parkwood nursing home every Friday.”

Another of Taylor’s favorite things to do is share poetry by reciting it when the occasion calls for it. An avid reader, he came across the works of Richard “Pek” Gunn, Poet Laureate of Tennessee from 1971 to 1994. When his sister passed away, Gunn’s poem “Fretting” brought him comfort. The gist is that when the beauty of nature is seen, God, who made it, will take care of the person who is worrying.

Taylor was born in Pixley Knob, which is right outside of Henryville in Clark County. The youngest of six children, he grew up without running water or electricity. His parents instilled in him the value of hard work and, above all, friendship.

“I’ve slowed down quite a bit,” he says. “Things take more time and I don’t have as much energy. I have an idea for another dinosaur, but even though I still get around and do things like mow my own grass, it’s a big effort. The things I’ve made, I did for our friends and for people to enjoy. I still enjoy people and life is good.”Ernie Taylor

Taylor then mentions a sign on his hobby farm with the following: “There’s a miracle called friendship that dwells within the heart, and you don’t know how it happens and how it gets its start, but the happiness it brings you gives you a special lift, and you realize the happiness it gives you is God’s most precious gift.”

Taylor’s 25-acre hobby farm is located at 10985 East State Road 32 in Zionsville.

Comments 1

  1. Debbie Parker says:

    I have know Ernie and Dottie Taylor for many years. Earnie and my dad worked together. You cannot meet nicer people. I have been out there with our day care/preschool kids and they welcomed them with open arms. Love this couple!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Boone County Stories

Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.

Send me your media kit!

hbspt.forms.create({ portalId: "6486003", formId: "5ee2abaf-81d9-48a9-a10d-de06becaa6db" });