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Not exactly a partridge in a pear tree

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Looking for a decoration to take you from Halloween to Christmas? Peter Eudenbach may have a little something-something for you.

The conceptual artist in Norfolk, Va., took cast-metal bluejays’ feet manufactured for taxidermists and wood carvers and attached them to a mouth-blown glass ornament. He photographed the weird but wonderful results, barely 3 inches tall, for his 2009 holiday card. It caught the eye of Artware Editions, a New York firm that sells artist-designed household goods.

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Now Eudenbach is producing a limited run of the hand-assembled ‘Chimera.’ The title of the piece, Eudenbach said, ‘is a term used in genetics and mythology relating to any kind of fusion between two creatures.’ In this case, the ornament sprouting feet represents the fusion of ‘the animate and inanimate, the natural and the commercial, the end of winter and the beginning of the spring.’

Though he views ‘Chimera’ as ‘poetic and quirky,’ Eudenbach said some have called it ‘Tim Burton creepy.’ (Perhaps those people visited Eudenbach’s website and saw his 2007 seasonal video of a nutcracker with an unusual appetite.)

The photographer, videographer and sculptor recalled childhood trips to the attic to play with ornaments. ‘There was something magical about them,’ he said. ‘And I decided that they were tired of rolling around and wanted feet.’

Eudenbach glues a nut onto the bulbs and threads the birds’ feet, so they screw in securely. For the beak, he also replaces the ‘clunky, blingish gold’ bulb caps with silver caps found on vintage ornaments in thrift stores.

‘Any piece that has a joke has to be taken seriously,’ Eudenbach said of his method. ‘The object has to look resolved and well made.’

At $150, ‘Chimera’ falls into the category of heirloom, not a gift you’d bring to a tree-trimming party. Even at that price, more than two dozen of the 100 artist-signed pieces have already been sold through Artware Editions.

-- David A. Keeps



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