Part of the allure of collecting for Doug Zegel is not knowing what new life he might discover in his found objects.
That was never quite as true as with the Doylestown man’s latest creation.
It may not be what first captures your attention, which is to be forgiven, when you walk into Zegel’s extraordinary Amish-built barn. The eye is understandably distracted by the dozens of carefully selected clocks, rows of abandoned game boards, artfully carved wooden fish, Victorian-era organ pipes propped against a wall and countless other treasures culled from flea markets, auctions and antique shops.
However, once you do see it, everything else recedes into the background.
There, in the center of the barn, hanging from the highest beam, cascading toward the floor is a 21-foot-long, awe-inspiring and utterly unique work of art Zegel affectionately calls a “chandelier.”
Crafted over years, the piece, weighing somewhere between 800 pounds and 900 pounds, is made entirely of wind instruments Zegel came across as he and his wife, Karen Kinzle Zegel, roamed through various sales and miscellaneous markets in search of artifacts for their collections, craft projects and barn sales.
Of the fun-filled excursions, Doug says, with a laugh, “It legitimizes our idiosyncrasies.”
And, while the retired president of Art Guild Inc. said he had no idea what he would do with the 47 saxophones, trumpets, clarinets and French horns that he eventually transformed into the striking chandelier, he knew he loved them.
“Every instrument is a work of art in itself,” said Doug. Still, he added, “all instruments have an end to their useful life.” In his own way, he reincarnated each of them.
Karen’s mother gave him the horn that begins the chandelier, although no one, especially the Zegels, could have imagined then the creative journey it would launch.
“We had no idea what it would be,” said Doug.
After a decade of collecting the instruments, some dating back centuries, Doug said when he saw the tuba, he knew he’d found his finishing piece. “I told Karen, ‘that tuba’s the bottom of our chandelier.’” And, so it is.
He also strategically placed 36 LED lights inside various instruments. When lit, the chandelier offers a soft, golden glow inside the darkened barn.
What will capture this creative man’s imagination next is anyone’s guess, including his.
Many of the couple’s “finds” can be purchased at barn sales where all the proceeds benefit the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation, a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization founded by the Zegels. Karen’s son Patrick died as a result of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.