What is this wooden thingee?
June 12, 2007 2:23 PM   Subscribe

What is this strange wood carving?

I won a fantasy football league a couple of years ago and The Thing was my prize. I have it up in my office and people seem to like it. Nobody can figure out what it is.

The Thing is like a framed portrait made of wood. The frame's shape, design, and markings are reminiscent of a 1940s radio. Inside the frame sits the portrait of a uniformed military man.

What's odd is that the portrait is carved from wood. The jacket and tie are three-dimensional, as is the hat. But the face appears to be a photograph somehow transfixed to the wood. It's two-dimensional. If it is stuck to the wood, it was done so remarkably well; there is no indication that it was glued at all.

Interestingly, the portrait of the man can pivot within the frame, though not all the way around. There's no writing on the entire piece, save for the number "482" etched in pencil, and a "MADE IN MEXICO" stamp -- both on the bottom. The question links to two pictures of The Thing. One is next to a tennis ball to give a sense of proportion. The second shows off The Thing's swiveling property.

So what is this? My guess is that it was a cheap souvenir that was sold in border towns in Mexico to Army guys who were on leave. The uniforms were precarved, and the portraits were somehow taken, cut, and affixed to the wood for a "personalized" carving. Then the Army guys could send them to their sweethearts or moms or something. But (1) I have not seen anything else like that, and (2) the head is sort of carved in the shape of the face, and it seems that would be hard to do quickly.

Any help is appreciated.
posted by AgentRocket to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Not much help here, except to say I think it's very likely that the photo *is* stuck to the wood. Decoupage involves gluing paper down with lots of layers of glue - like upwards of thirty. Then it gets sanded down "until the "stuck on" appearance disappears and the result looks like painting or inlay work." I dunno; maybe that would help with googling it or something.
posted by web-goddess at 7:05 PM on June 12, 2007

Your theory is probably about right. If it didn't say "Made in Mexico", it could be a one-off, but that stamp means somebody had a business doing this. Seconding the decoupage method for the photo.
posted by beagle at 7:13 PM on June 12, 2007

Well, the style is totally Art Deco and very 1940s. I am sure your estimation is correct- cheap souvenir for Army guys on leave.
posted by Miko at 9:12 PM on June 12, 2007

Oh man. I hope someone finds out eventually cause I want one.
posted by agregoli at 11:15 AM on June 13, 2007

Is it really personalized? That looks an awful lot like Martin Milner to me, and he did a few war movies. My guess would be it's a celebrity souvenir portrait of some sort.
posted by frykitty at 3:52 PM on June 13, 2007

« Older Insert appropriate Timbuk3 quote here   |   Finding a design job Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.