Al Mailman, owner and operator of Unique Things Wanted, creates all sizes of whimsical works of art from his home in Falmouth, including this five-foot butterfly.
FALMOUTH, N.S. — Not many people can look at an oil tank, a pile of discarded cutlery or old drill bits and envision a whole new use for them.
But for Falmouth artist Al Mailman, that's exactly where his brain goes.
Mailman has always been creating “stuff” out of old metal objects but in September of 2016, that tinkering became a full-fledged career.
Al Mailman can turn even the most mundane metal objects into works of art.
Mailman is the owner and operator of Unique Things Wanted, a metal works company specializing in whimsical creations to decorate one’s home and garden.
“The stuff I really love to do I just come up with it on my own,” said Mailman, adding people will often ask if he can make a certain insect or animal and he’ll start brainstorming how to do it.
“A lady said 'can you make me a dragonfly?' and then I made her a dragonfly,” he said, noting he now sells quite a few dragonflies, butterflies and the like. “This is the stuff I like to do.”
Mailman said his first real project was back in 2002 when his daughters asked him to make a sunflower, which he did just for fun.
In 2014, his mother fell and required home care, which prompted the career change.
“I pretty much had to give up working — I did satellite and cable work all my life,” said Mailman. “But then I decided I was going to do this full-time. I got onto that project for unemployment that they do here in town; to start your own business during unemployment. I haven't looked back.”
Butterflies and dragonflies are the hot ticket items for Unique Things Wanted.
He launched Unique Things Wanted in September 2016.
The biggest items he’s created to date have been five-foot butterflies and sunflowers. He said when his first large butterfly orders came in, his eldest daughter, cosplay artist Becky Mailman, painted them. She then showed him her technique and he’s been painting his own artwork ever since. Those first butterflies can be seen at Baldwin Nurseries in Falmouth, and one proudly hangs outside his house in Falmouth.
“Right now, I'm on an order basis. Say you said you wanted a dragonfly. I'd say, what colour, what size, and I'd make it,” said Mailman, noting he just had an order for a daisy.
He said people will show him a picture of something they want to own, oftentimes from Pinterest, and he will put his own spin on it as he doesn’t want to copy any other artist.
His mini butterflies and dragonflies, plus his spoon frogs, are among his top sellers, he said.
But reaching customers isn’t always easy.
“Right now, we're in a market where nobody wants to spend any money,” said Mailman, who relies mainly on his Facebook presence and in-store items to help get the word out about his business.
“Like if I was in Toronto, I could charge 10 times what I charge for my stuff (but) I'm here and I have to just barely make a profit on it — or sit on it forever until someone (buys it),” he said, noting he’d rather sell several than hold onto a product.
His artwork is currently available at Daniels Flower Shop in Windsor, the Tartan Fish Gift Shop in Indian Harbour near Peggy’s Cove, at the Avon River Heritage Society Museum in Newport Landing, and at Hennigar's Farm Market in Wolfville.
For more information about what he has available, and what he can create, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Unique-Things-Wanted-515962431939353/.