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Largely Smalls

March 20, 2012

Succulent Still Life with Children’s Smalls


SMALLS, the objects kept under glass and lock and key at antique stores and junk shops, can range from the truly precious (an antique ring, an ivory carving, a primitive antiquity) to something merely tiny and likely to walk away on its own (an old coin, a funny political badge, a souvenir tchotchke). I love smalls, they don’t take up much space, and because I’m not interested in precious, rarely cost much. Plus, they’re fun to play with and work well with other elements, in this case plants. To come up with three still lifes featuring recently-acquired smalls, I used succulents felled by Saturday’s rains, a collection of wooden nesting boxes, and other diminutive items. The first still life, above, features an assortment of tiny kid’s toys — a gold chair, a railroad sign, a trained seal, a mother hen — and some random pages from an old coloring book. Lending height is a triangular orange metal pepper shaker and an old cork float …


Succulent Still Life with Animal Smalls


Setup number two features three small beasties that share an intricacy of line: at top, a chesty charcoal-colored bull boasts an impressively swirly mane; in the center, a metal printing plate Leo the Lion shows off his bold etchings; at ground level, a lidded celluloid toad box displays her art deco leanings. A succulent sprig atop a small wooden stump and colored stones add both a flourish and contrasting polish.


Succulent Still Life with Human Figure Smalls


Thirdly, small welded metal figures stand amongst the architecture of the wooden cubes, their interaction remote. Bizarrely shaped succulent fragments provide organic contrast to their metallic hardness and the rigid wooden geometry. Two handcarved salt-and-pepper shakers (dated 1934) are stacked to create a modernist planter column.


The next time you’re at an antique mall or junk shop, take the time to look inside the glass and locked cases … fascinating smalls languish inside them … waiting to feel the warmth of a friendly hand and a possible trip to a new home.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Vickie Perez permalink
    March 20, 2012 4:39 am

    I’ve been a fan of smalls for a long time. Smalls and wind ups. And so many other things.
    love the pics.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 20, 2012 4:40 am

      Thanks, Vickie … I love my boxes of tiny treasures, too!

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