Rock Hall artist David Aiken creates metal sculptures with nautical and whimsical themes that can be used as table bases, decorative screens, freestanding garden art, wall hangings, bird feeders, plant stands and pond ornaments. He also does furniture and other commissioned designs, such as room dividers, headboards and garden gates.
The sculptures range in height from 8 inches (for a small butterfly wall piece) to 48 inches (for a large heron wall piece). Mermaids, dolphins, herons, butterflies, hummingbirds and tall ships are some of the motifs. Colors are white, gray, black, hammered silver, bronze, blue-gray, bright blue, forest green, verdigris, teal and purple. (Other colors are available at extra charge.) Prices range from $18.50 for a bird feeder to $800 for a 30-inch-high patio table base. Aiken's shop is off Main Street at the Shoppes at Oyster Court, Rock Hall. His phone number is 410-639-9980.
Prized for its ugliness
We have a winner -- if you can call it that -- in the Ugly Couch contest sponsored by Sure Fit, the ready-made slipcover company. Elizabeth O'Bryan of Woodbury, Conn., took the grand prize, $5,000, for her dizzying 1970s orange, yellow and black op-art sofa. O'Bryan says her daughter is "mortified" by the honor. The contest was started in 1995 to draw attention to the practicality of slipcovers. This year's contest drew 2,204 entries. For a Sure Fit catalog, call 888-754-7166. Or you can check out the ugly-couch entries and Sure Fit's slipcovers at www.surefit.com. -- K. M.
It's not too soon to start thinking about how you're going to one-up your neighbors in home decorations for the approaching holiday seasons -- for instance, with Frontgate catalog's Image Projector. This device beams a crisp special-occasion image onto garage doors or other flat surfaces on the exterior of a home. The projector includes 20 images, such as a Christmas tree, American flag and birthday balloon. The 20-inch Image Projector costs $195. Extra slides -- including the jack-o'-lantern pictured here -- are $19.50 each. A landscaping "stone" in fiberglass that conceals the apparatus is $69. The catalog's toll-free number is 800-626-6488, or you can order from the Web site at www.frontgate.com. -- K. M.
* Paintings from an in- ternational exchange coordinated by the Columbia Association Sister Cities Program and the Columbia Association Art Center with the city of Cergy-Pontoise, France, will be on view through Friday at the art center's main gallery, 10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia. Admission is free. Both French and American artists will be on hand at a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. Admission to the reception is also free. For details, call 410-730-0075.
* "A Woman's War" is the subject of a talk by Kym S. Rice of George Washington University at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. Rice will talk about the experiences of Southern women left at home during the Civil War. The talk is free with museum admission. For more information, call 410-685-3750. --K.M.
Charms of the vintage kitchen
It's quite a title: "Queen of Junk." But that's what Mary Randolph Carter, vice president of advertising at Polo/Ralph Lauren, has become as the author of "American Junk," "Garden Junk" and other gloriously pictorial books about Americans' love affair with the old, the odd, the quirky, the classic and the just plain charming. Now she has a new book, "Kitchen Junk" (Viking Studio, $29.95), that celebrates the homey and hearth-warming qualities of vintage kitchen ware and equipment, from painted plates, wooden fruit and enameled cookware to used cookbooks and geriatric (but still efficient) stoves.
The book includes plenty of tips, such as how to wash old linens, and lots of information on how to find good old kitchen junk, and how to use and display it. Even if you don't have space in your house for one more bit of nostalgia, you can enjoy such things vicariously through the book. -- K. M.