Nearly a year since a tornado tore a deadly swath from Nashville to Lebanon on March 3, 2020, handcrafted items honed by a local craftsman are borne out of the wreckage peppered across the region.
Remnants left over from the twister’s wrath are artfully repurposed, renewed and restored in a whole new way by Kevin Glenn, also known as Poppop, in a bright red workshop in back of his Donelson Hills home.
It’s called Pop-Pop’s shop.
A birdfeeder made from a repurposed porch light and lumber from a house destroyed in the tornado currently feeds winged ones. Also, are a bluebird house made from timber that was part of a barn demolished in the twister; a porch light mounted on a feeder made from reclaimed lumber out of a 70-year-old destroyed home; and a bluebird house built from scraps left over from a neighbor’s fence uprooted by the winds.
“I can turn damaged or destroyed items into another life,” said Glenn. “Sometimes things’ lives are cut short like in the tornado, but they still have a purpose and sentimental value. It may not be the original fence, tree or paneling but take on a new purpose.”
And while Glenn still lovingly reclaims abandoned and broken pieces of former homes, barns and fences left over from the tornado and turns them into sought-after items, he’s found the value in cranking up his imagination to repurpose, repair and reuse old stuff to create beautiful and useful works of art for several years.
Because he loves birds, Glenn often builds feeders and houses for the creatures. But his hands craft and mold a myriad of other items out of donated lumber, bottles, tin, door sockets, copper and even old horse halters.
Glenn and his wife of 29 years, Tracy, moved to Donelson Hills in 2017 from Chattanooga. They lived in Chattanooga since 1983, but the draw of their two grandchildren brought them to Donelson.
“I committed to making the drive every month and finally a job fell into place,” he said. “They live down the road now.”
While not reclaiming in Pop-Pop’s shop, Glenn works on renovations and rental cleanups at HJL Management.
“I’ve always liked tools and wanted to make things,” said Glenn. “I made office shelves when I was 12 years old.”
Add coffee stirrers, little log cabins and napkin holders to this pre-teen’s craft repertoire. His father was a Baptist preacher who worked with his hands on mostly mechanical things. As the years went by, Glenn inherited some tools.
“I guess I have a God-given ability to see an “A” and turn it into an “F” to make an item,” he said.
When he and his wife bought their home in Donelson Hills, it came with a 24-feet-by-16-feet portable building. When he decided to open Pop-Pop’s shop, he added another 20 feet. He filled it with tools and started tinkering, not afraid to take the screws off things, add onto, embellish and transform.
One recent creation came from Hidden Acres Farms in back of his neighborhood. They lost four barns in the twister and had significant damage. During the demolition of the riding arena, Glenn took some lumber and built a bluebird house. He found a damaged halter left over and used it to make a door to the house and framed the door with an old horseshoe he found there.
“Some people may think it’s just a bluebird house,” said Glenn. “But the whole thing means something now that it’s been rebuilt into something.”
There’s one of those bluebird houses in his shop and another on a post on the farm property.
He made a shelf out of paneling he rescued from a 1950s rental property destroyed in the tornado.
“I went in and pulled out the wood paneling to reuse for another property,” he said. “But it was the wrong size, so I asked if I could have it.”
Glenn walled his office with it and made little projects with the rest of it.
“I’m always looking for new ideas,” he said.
A neighbor gave him a box of old liquor bottles. He bought a wet tile saw and started making birdfeeders and hummingbird feeders. He transformed a Sky Vodka bottle into a desk lamp.
“I used reclaimed lumber from the old Donelson Muffler and Hitch building that is now Sunflower Bakehouse,” said Glenn.
Other stunning transformations from liquor bottles are serving trays, a reversible tea light and candlestick holder from a cut whiskey bottle and more. His creations change weekly with his recyclable treasures.
He’s turned downed limbs into a butter knife and made a push-pull stick for use on oven racks from rough-sawn cherry wood. Another birdfeeder was crafted from scrap cedar pickets for a neighbor’s new fence, a jelly jar and handmade chain.
“All of the chain used to hang the products is handmade one link at a time,” said Glenn.
He recently completed a little library for someone and an aquarium stand.
A favorite refurbish was repairing a cherished saw that’s handle was broken. Its owner brought it to Glenn.
“I repaired a handsaw that belonged to the grandfather of a lady who lives in my neighborhood,” he said. “I’ve never done this before, but I think it came out pretty well. The important part is that she liked it.”
He has a family connection to Mill Creek Mercantile in Donelson, where shoppers can buy his unique creations. People can also buy things from his Facebook page.
For a period of time, Glenn’s constant shop companion was the neighborhood cat, Mojo, that took up residence long enough that Glenn installed a cat door to his red-and-white shop.
He said he doesn’t intend to get rich off his projects and doesn’t charge Etzy prices. He said it’s a fun and enjoyable hobby.
“We throw away too much,” said Glenn. “There’s an importance for reuse or repurpose. Then, eventually renewed things can be recycled to their raw form again.”
While Mojo moved on for the time being, Glenn’s creativity remains ever changing to revitalize the tossed and rejected.
Visit Facebook at @PoppopsShopNashville to see Glenn’s creations.