We all know estate sales are great places to find interesting art, whether mass-produced, limited-edition, or one of a kind. Here are three unique types of wall art discovered at QBO sales. Their ordinary subject matter is not what makes them special, rather, it is how each is rendered DIMENSIONALLY. At 3″ x 5″, this adorable bouquet is tiny. And, it is the product of a tiny company, Pol-O-Craft of Reading, Pennsylvania. Owned and operated by its main designer, Pauline A. Owens (apparently out of her home), the company was founded in the mid 1970s and has been making artistic products for 46 years. This ‘painting’ is from their early days.
Viewed from the front nothing stands out (ha ha!), but from the side you’ll see it’s made up of clusters of little finish nails, pounded in at different depths and then meticulously hand-painted. Larger nail heads sport whole blossoms, while smaller nail heads make individual leaves. The flower pot is a petite seashell. So cute! Pol-O-Craft proudly proclaims itself the sole originator of Nail Flower Art, as there are imitators out there.
These next two works were made from craft store kits. Textile art kits of preprinted designs on various types of cloth, packaged with embroidery thread, needlepoint thread, or latch-hook yarn had already been around for years, but the Dimensions line offered by the Hearst Corporation in the 1980s and 90s gave crafters maximum aesthetic effect for minimum work-time.
The ‘painting’ is already fully printed in soft, glorious color; what the crafter brings to the party are key dimensional elements they hand-embroider onto select areas using the included embroidery thread. The kits required only basic, beginner stitches such as filler Satin Stitch and knubby French Knots. Very pretty!
Last but certainly not least is this remarkable little landscape found at a past Beehive sale. If you pick it up, you immediately notice it’s quite heavy. That’s because the marbled background actually IS a 1/2″ thick slab of polished marble. This ‘painting’ is solid rock! Even the sparkly, bumpy, furry-looking trees are made of crushed gemstones. The only part of this piece not composed of stone is the wooden frame. At just 4″ x 6″, this piece of folk art is small, but some are much larger, the limitation being how heavy a piece of marble can be and still be hung on a wall.
These pieces are handmade in the Ural Mountain Range of Russia, some of the oldest mountains in the world. The Urals start in Kazakhstan and run North/South through Russia until they reach the sea, becoming the islands of Vaygach and Novaya Zemlya; they separate Europe from Asia. People have mined there for centuries; coal, ore, gems and the semi-precious stones used in these ‘paintings’: amethyst, blood amethyst, diamond, garnet, jade, lapis lazuli, rose quartz, smoky quartz, ruby and tourmaline, and marble for the backgrounds.
A similar method of crushing gemstones to make paintings was autonomously developed in Jaipur, India and from there the technique spread to Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam in the early 90’s, each region creating its own style. Likewise, a similar but not identical technique was independently invented in Kenya. If it seems odd that so many different people invented crushed gemstone paintings, remember that humans have been grinding colored rocks into paint since before the pharaohs. Today most pigments are synthesized but the colors Umber, Sienna, Ochre, and Terra Rossa are still made of mined minerals. Feeling artistic? Visit QBO!