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Hogansville antiquer gives outdated twist to modern art

Allan Boyer turns on a lamp on the counter inside his antique shop, Born Again Antiques. The lamp is very untraditional and very strange to look at, but otherwise very in tune with the industrial and steampunk style, he instills in his other projects.

When asked what the lamp is made from, he smiles and answers “it’s ‘udderly awesome.”

The lamp is made out of a steel cow milker and is just one of the hundreds of reused objects he’s used to make the art projects and everyday items he sells in his store.

Boyer has owned and operated Born Again Antiques for over 16 years, he said, but only began making art out of the objects he has 10 years ago.

It began when a pair of college students came into his shop looking for ‘steampunk’ art for their dorm rooms.

“I thought ‘what the heck’ is that,” he said, and began his own research into the steampunk trend.

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that blends 19th-century technology and aesthetic designs. In terms of art, it incorporates industrial, outdated technology from the time period, such as metal, gears and glass.

Boyer began his own research and came across steampunk art pieces on sites such as Pinterest. He began to locate items he had in his shop to create lamps and sculptures, using his previous knowledge of wiring and painting to give each piece the aesthetic look of the steampunk genre.

“I try to find something that I think would make a great lamp or a great coffee table, and I start adding from there,” Boyer said. “When I get cool stuff, I would think, what’s the best way to [make something]?”

Many of his art projects sit in his shop: tiny figurines and windchimes made from silverware; a lamp made from an old hairdryer and necklaces made from glass and watch gears.

Some of Boyer’s customers bring him items like farm equipment to make art out of. Some even enlist his help to create their own art.

“They’ll say to me ‘I’m not very creative,’ and I say ‘but you will be,” he said. “It’s part of their learning process, and I try to give them some ideas.”

The key to making his projects as authentic as possible is to use all aged items in a piece, never brand new.

“I had someone build a sculpture once, and they used brand new screws and bolts, and I said ‘why’d you have to do that?’ he recalled. “It’s better to use rusted nails and screws … it’s more old looking. Doing it any other way is just lazy.”

The additions of his art not only enhanced his own creative streak but gave him a broader idea of what items he can bring into his shop.

During his trips to estate and yard sales, Boyer searches for items “no other antique shop will carry,” he said, like rusted metals and items that are beat up.

Some of the most unique objects that have been given to him include a wooden prosthetic leg that Boyer denied putting in an art piece but eventually sold, as well as a real human skull someone found in the back of a car.

One of his most recent intakes was a 200-year-old chest from Transylvania.

“It was so exciting…this came from the same place that was Dracula’s home,” Boyer said.

To find such items, Boyer travels far and wide, including through some of the dirtiest basements and attics to find what he wants.

“I’m not afraid or rats or spiders,” Boyer laughed. “When I go into a place, I find what I want…I want to find something that stands out.”

Years prior, Boyer traveled the world for finds and picked up everything from bottles to wall decorations.

Some of his most prized possessions include a wooden box that once held cavity embalming fluid for a mortuary in Hogansville and old Hogansville signs and memorabilia. He has items from Prague, Istanbul and Africa that he bought during his travels, and even most peculiarly, authentic fake eyes.

“I try to keep stuff that will keep the kids happy in here, and the parents have fun as well,” Boyer said.

Boyer manages a balancing act between selling an item as is or using it for an art piece.

Ultimately, he enjoys the hunt as much as the process, and prides himself on having even the most intricate items that others will rarely carry, and the little nicks and electric shocks he’s received along the way have been badges of honor.

“It’s really about finding what works,” Boyer said. “You just keep looking and keep experimenting … and eventually you find the right parts that make it come together.”