ZoLO Painted Wood Toy Set 55 Pieces by Higashi Glaser Design

ZoLO Painted Wood Toy Set

ZoLO Painted Wood Toy Set

ZoLO Painted Wood Toy Set

We purchased this extremely rare ZoLO toy set at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1987. As designers, we recognized this as another example of 80s design as valid as the concepts and products being created by Ettore Sottssass and the group of Milanese artists referred to as Memphis. These were industrial designers who in essence re-invented what we considered Modern Design. The movement marked the end of the 20th century. Revered mid-century modern designer, George Nelson said in 1983, “Memphis is not in any atlas. It is a state of the soul, the soul at the end of the 20th century. If you didn’t know that the 20th century has a soul now you know.” True, Byron Glaser and Sandra Higashi, the creators of ZoLO were not among Sottssass, Matteo Thun, Peter Shire, George Sowden, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie du Pasquier, Marco Zannini, … but their colorful, eccentric, pop, cutting edge toy emerged from the influences of that new international design called Memphis.

This original ZoLO was handcrafted in 1986, hand carved and hand painted, each box was a work of art but also contained the resources for imaginative works of art. The exterior sleeve states: “Lurking within this box are 50 twisty, twirly, squiggly, wiggly, knobby, blobby, and polka-dotty handmade wooden pieces waiting to be put together. Just release your imagination, and ZoLO will go wild.” “ZoLO can be anything you want it to be. Just open your mind, feel from your heart and discover the world of ZoLO.” We also have the original tri-fold postcard to be sent back to the Old Chelsea Station, NY postal address. It was included to gather a data base “as part of their continuing effort to develop products that inspire the hearts and minds” from the recipients including their contact information, “livelihood, amusements, favorite playthings, three wishes, comments & doodles.” It was obvious the creators were impassioned and having fun!

This, ZoLo “Designed by Raw Materials” is in excellent vintage condition. It is proto-typical.The original printed die cut cardboard sleeve still slips over the plywood box. The original makers attempted to clean up their still rough cut boxes with wood putty to mask the nails that hold the box together, note, this is original, not a repair. We count 55 pieces, including the fiber material drawstring bag which stores the smaller pieces. It was “played with” less than a hand full of times by us. The latex rubber on one piece has dried out over time, naturally and one curved connector was carefully repaired. This sculptural plaything is extraordinary, rare indeed, especially in its condition and completeness!

Kentucky Folk Artist Jim Lewis Mermaid Carved Sculptures

jim lewis mermaid sculpture


jim lewis mermaid sculpture


One of an extended family of well known, and collected folk art carvers from rural Kentucky, Jim Lewis joined his brothers and cousins, including Junior Lewis and Tim Lewis. The work of Minnie Adkins, and the late Garland Adkins, highly regarded regional folk artists, inspired Jim Lewis to begin carving. He had worked as a heavy equipment operator before working exclusively on his art, working in basswood, as well as maple for his canes. We attended events including the sorghum festival and the annual “Day in the Country.” We purchased several of Jim Lewis’s canes and other sculptural work, including this early mermaid. Collectors of this genre of work recognize the importance of seminal work such as this mermaid. Early work, we feel is most inspired, most original. These pieces are signed and dated 1993 and 1994. His more recent work is sold at regional galleries. His work has been displayed ” nationally and internationally” including the Museum of American Folk Art and is sometimes available at the gallery at the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, Kentucky.

Vintage Carved Wood Mexican Religious Folk Art Cross Crucifix

Mexican Religious Folk Art Cross Crucifix

Mexican Religious Folk Art Cross Crucifix

Our collection contains dozens of old vintage Mexican masks and other ethnographic art mostly from Guerrero, Mexico. Many of the masks and other ethnographic artifacts were purchased at the Ohio Ethnographic gallery in Columbus, Ohio, in the 1988, curiously; known for the selectivity of the work they showed and offered. This vintage wood crucifix has the original lime based paint and nails, some paint has worn away with age. It has a hairline crack in the green decorative piece, as depicted. Otherwise, it is a beautiful old example of the carving style of this geographical area of Mexico. Cheaper, more recent work from Guerrero, and Oaxaca, and Michoaca may be available elsewhere however, the tourist industry is resulting in production methods and stylization diminishing both the overall quality including character and value.

Measurements: 24″ x 15″ x 8″

Antique Handmade Cross Assemblage from Ecuador


cross close up

We purchased this beautiful cross at an antique dealer’s booth in Cincinnati in the middle 80s. It appears to be an old wooden cross that was repurposed for a handmade crucifix assemblage. The dealer purchased it while in Ecuador years before our purchase. The assemblage is quite unique. The original cross and base are very old, wooden. There appears to be a previous coating of a silvery metallic guilding. Much, but not all of this is worn away revealing much of the wood. Someone, prior to the dealer’s purchase, applied a paper image of Christ on the cross to the front of the cross. This is the condition it was in at the time of its discovery at the antique mall in Cincinnati. There is an old nail driven through the bottom of the base which adjoins the cross. The assemblage and its lovely patina make this an especially interesting cultural and historical relic.

Measurements: 9″ x 4.5″ x 3″ (Base 2.75″ x 3″)

Vintage Virgin of Guadalupe Handmade Assembled Religious Artifact from Ecuador

Virgin of Guadalupe

We purchased this beautiful artifact at an antique dealer’s booth in Cincinnati in the middle 80s. It is a handmade assemblage the dealer purchased while in Ecuador years before its sale. As an assemblage, each element carries special meaning and spirit. The back comprised of wood contains some tiny holes inhabited, long ago, by some burrowing insect. There is also a bent nail from which it was probably originally hung on a wall; from which a raffia-like cord is strung, perhaps for a later use? The base is the means by which we have displayed it for, now, decades. The front of the wood is wrapped with a very old piece of paper on which it is printed “PULIVITIN” ? The Virgin, behind glass, is a printed piece on which the maker has applied several reflective cutout shapes.The frame is painted the same color as the VIrgin’s robe. There is an old nail which juts out from base as an anchoring device. It exudes such adoration, it conveys significant cultural and historical interest.

Measurements: 9.5″ x 4.5″ x 1″ (Base 2.5″ deep)

Vintage Carved and Painted Figures of a Man and Woman

Carved Couple

carved women

carved man

We discovered this wonderful pair of figures at the Heartland Antique Show in Richmond, Indiana in the middle 1990s. They had been brought to this nationally recognized show by a antique dealer from Iowa. She did not know the figures provenance but said she believed them to be from the late 30s to early 40s. They are delicate and beautifully carved with great skill exhibited in technique. The attire is well articulated, the man holds a hat behind his back. The hat must have been broken at some stage as it had been carefully glued together at the time of our purchase. The woman’s shoes have some loss of the black paint. She is also missing what we believe must have been a basket which rested upon her left hip. There is a small peg which juts from her hip, some absence of paint makes it apparent something had been applied and then painted. Her flaxen hair and some of her facial features have been sculpted from a composite material. Perhaps glue and sawdust? Both the male and female figure stand on their original stained bases, each approximately 4″ x 4.5″ x .5″ tall. The figures each stand approximately 10″ tall on their bases. Scribed in pencil on the bottom of the male figure’s base is “Seale,” nothing further was discovered about their origin.

Body Electric

Body Electric sculpture
Dennis and I have been a bit distracted lately. In addition to running two brick and mortar businesses (City Lights Neon and Deux Design) and Ephemerascenti on Etsy, we have been working on a pro bono piece. It will be auctioned to benefit our local Building Values, an affiliate of Easter Seals.

ReUse-apalooza Designer Challenge is the additional focus. The challenge invited local designers to browse salvaged and used materials and receive a store credit up to $100.00 to be used in an artistic or functional piece. The challenge will culminate in an event and silent auction of the finished works on April 8th, 2011.

Dennis and I browsed the facility for nearly two hours; considering materials for multiple projects. We selected, after debate, vintage painted wood molding, used fuses, and a common mirror, from among well organized and displayed materials. Our design was not pre-conceived, it was driven, with spontaneity, by the available salvaged materials.

We knew we would augment the salvaged items with materials from our studio. We had off fall from glass tubing and perhaps a neon transformer that we had used to power a prop for a movie or shoot we would not sell as new.

We also realized the need to weave the theme we described as “body electric” through the piece. We decided to etch the used mirror to mask the barely discernible scratches. The etched design, highlighting the chakras and meridians, would re-iterate the theme and link the fuses as materials to the etched image.

The neon, made in our studio, would provide an indirect orange glow suggested by the graphics on many of the fuses. As an indirect light source, it would be enjoyed as a halo of light shadowing and enhancing the work.

An interview with the “Living” editor of our local newspaper, The Enquirer, resulted in a feature presenting “Body Electric” and other examples of our art which often includes up-cycled or re-sourced materials. Our greatest reward will be seeing the bids accrue and knowing the sum will be donated in its entirety to Building Value/Easter Seals on April 8th!