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Broad Ripple Resident Is Turning Indianapolis Salvaged Materials Into Functional Art

Photographer / Amy Payne

Reclaim IndyZach Deckard had been living in Indianapolis for several years, working hard at a full-time job, when he came to an important realization.

A long-time artist, Deckard became aware that he hadn’t attempted anything in the artistic realm for quite some time and needed to find an outlet to do just that.

“I had been in Indianapolis for several years before moving to Broad Ripple and putting together a little home shop,” Deckard explains. “Being in the grind of a serious full-time job and the stresses of finding my direction had changed my overall happiness and even my personality. Constantly fighting to make life what I thought it should be rather than letting it flow was exhausting. Then I realized that I hadn’t picked up an instrument, drawn or done anything creative in a long time.”

Before long, Deckard had launched Reclaim Indy, an artistic endeavor for which he has created a diverse range of pieces from plaques to tables to beer tap handles — all from reclaimed materials sourced from areas around the city.

“I turn Indianapolis salvage into functional art,” Deckard says. “What I build varies and I never want to get stuck in a rut. I generally like to use wood and metal. I’ve made tables, tap handles, signs, headboards, custom bars and more. All the materials used in my projects, with very little exception, come from right here in Indianapolis. Even hardware that I need to assemble items is purchased at a local hardware store rather than Amazon.” 

Deckard’s pieces can be found in bars and restaurants around the city, and he was commissioned to create a plaque for Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears.

“I’ve always been happier when I was creating something,” Deckard says. “I thought it would be fun to repurpose salvaged materials from the city and give them a new life as something different. Everything has value in the right context. Even something that was discarded. Reclaim Indy is an exercise in seeing the potential in things.”

Reclaim Indy

Deckard grew up near Nashville, Indiana, and says the local art scene, as well as artists in his family, became influences early on in his own artistic journey.

“I was always intrigued by art and music,” he says. “Those are the things that universally make people happy in even the worst of times. I think I understood that very early on, being around musicians and artists in my own family and community. I was always drawing or playing an instrument as a kid, and in school I was generally in some kind of art or shop elective that allowed me to break out of the mold a bit and create something that wasn’t predetermined by the curriculum.” 

Deckard appreciates working with one-of-a-kind, reclaimed items, as opposed to stock materials from big-box stores.

“I love using things that have clearly had a life before and have had time to develop some patina,” he says. “You don’t get the same feeling from something made out of wood from Lowe’s. I have no interest in building things that I’ve seen done already. The internet doesn’t need another guy making cutting boards or blanket ladders and live laugh love signs.”

Recently, Deckard has been busy fashioning bars out of bourbon and wine barrels acquired from a local brewer, complete with features like lighting, USB ports and interior wine racks.

“They make incredible conversation pieces in the home bar or business,” Deckard says of his repurposed barrels. “People really love them. I’ve enjoyed all my projects but this one has been the most complicated and satisfying to complete. Making tap handles was a blast as well. There’s nothing like walking into an Indy bar where your work is on display.”

Reclaim IndyDeckard says being involved in an artistic process can yield benefits on a personal and a community level, and he adds that the name of his own artistic endeavor is more than simply a nod to reclaimed materials it also refers to reclaiming individuality and independence.

“[Artistic expression] puts you in a good mental state,” he says. “In many cases, it requires you to spend time alone or at least quietly focusing on something you enjoy, which allows for a lot of self-reflection as well as improvement in your craft. Personally, I’m happier having a creative outlet that is uniquely mine. It also allows me to interact with my community in new, useful and positive ways.”

To learn more about Reclaim Indy and to inquire about commissions, search and follow Reclaim Indy on Facebook and Instagram or visit online at reclaim-indy.com.

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