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Matthew Folsum has re-created his own Island of Misfit Toys as a yard display in front of his home on Trotter Lane in Asheboro. His decorations are made from materials he finds and collects.  Eric Abernathy / Randolph Hub

A local Christmas story

ASHEBORO — Being on a fixed income hasn’t stopped Matthew Folsum from decorating his yard for the Christmas season. He creates his own decorations using recycled materials.


“I grew up fixing stuff,” he said from his yard at 229 Trotter Lane, Asheboro. “I see stuff a little different than other people do.


“I’m on disability and can’t afford to buy toys for the grandkids,” Folsum said. “But I enjoy making stuff. I make toys from recycled (material). It’s cooler if it’s made from scratch.”


Folsom said he started decorating for Christmas right after Halloween, when he had about three dozen various heads in his yard, from Batman to Dracula to Frankenstein and the Mummy, and plenty more.


Leading the Christmas troupe is — who else? — Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. His body is framed by tomato cages (stakes) and fencing and covered with material used in screen printing. The red nose is a $1 light bulb and Rudolph’s collar is a girl’s belt.


One of Santa’s elves is styrofoam with hands of rubber gloves filled with foam. Frosty the Snowman is fashioned from a clothes dryer drum, the lens from a warehouse light, the head is an athletic ball and the neck is composed of a bundt cake pan. Frosty is holding an old umbrella and wearing a discarded hat.


Charlie-in-the-Box, AKA Jack, springs from a box formed from a metal computer workstation, including the lid. Charlie was made from the metal that holds up a trampoline with rebar to mount his head, which is styrofoam. His arms are cardboard tubes.


Other characters in Folsum’s yard include Yukon Cornelius, a train, an elephant, an airplane, Bob the Minion and a creature named Bumble. There’s also a UFO flying overhead.


Building materials come from grease traps, buckets, disposable hospital gurney sheets, foam insulation boards, caps off spray paint cans, barrels, PVP plastic, fuel inlets from semi trucks, battery acid bottles, ice buckets, lawn mower motor parts, the protective sheet in a mirror container and, not surprisingly, a bicycle wheel.


“I’ve been doing art my whole life,” Folsom said. “I’ve even tattooed myself. I do art on metal with a plasma cutter.” 


He’s currently using the plasma cutter to form old gas station signs, such as Texaco, Gulf and Mobile. Those pieces, cut from tops of oil drums, are high art. Folsom especially likes doing the five-sided star for the Texaco logo.


“My father owned a salvage shop when I was a boy,” he said. “I guess that’s where the fix-it came from.”


Folsom said he was born in Michigan and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, when he was 8. In addition to helping his father with the salvage materials, he would dress as Santa during the holiday season and fix Christmas lights to “make sure everything was lit. My payment was seeing the kids happy.”


Just last week, Folsum got a call from a friend to let him know there was a fiber-optic reel lying along the interstate. He rushed to the site and tossed the reel into the back of his pickup. 


“I can find something to do with it.”