Collecting the human form as decor has become increasingly popular in recent years. From mannequins and busts to hand statues and ceramic heads, I think I have them all. I can still remember a conversation a long time ago at an antiques fair when someone thought it odd that I wasn’t attracted to old dolls and instead preferred scraps of people. This person joked that I might need a psychiatrist because I like showing body parts rather than whole figures.
I’ve been in love with mannequins for as long as I can remember. I treasure the wicker dress form in my living room, which came from my father’s clothing store in New Jersey, where I picked up my passion for visual presentation.
A couple of busts I got years ago were a great deal at a furniture rental company who couldn’t wait to see them. Pieces like these have only become more fashionable over time. Mine tend to stay in the same place but their attire changes like the houndstooth hat I just got for my Apollo statue that makes him look like Sherlock Holmes.
Another bust, tucked away in a corner, wears an heirloom necklace and straw hat from a Harrods teddy bear in need of repair, which also has special meaning to me.
Eventually, I started adding hands to my curio assortment. The first was a cobalt blue glass ring holder that sits in a kitchen display case full of vintage crockery. More recent finds include ones that can hold photographs and a thumbs-up sculpture holding a pen.
When my mom sent me some vintage strains that my sister had at her West Coast house, she did so because she thought I might like them. She didn’t know I had an existing collection because my decorative hands are scattered around my house.
One that belonged to an old mannequin became a doorstop for my sister. She now holds rotating photos between her fingers while the others wear costume jewelry or display postcards and other memorabilia.
The vintage shoe shapes I’ve collected over the years may not qualify as feet, but they do resemble and relate to them. Some are supported on boxes while others have been made into bookends and hooks.
Other shapes run throughout the home, like the styrofoam bust on the lower level and a pair of male and female candles in our master bathroom designed to look like statues. Despite the fact that I bought all three of these pieces years ago from the same Dearborn shop, which has since closed, I have never seen anything quite like them since.
A palm reading hand from a local flea market and a ceramic head with inspirational sayings that was a gift from an old friend are still great conversation pieces.
Someone who shares my passion for this whimsical decor said that we simply admire the human form, which is a great way to describe our collections. Random body parts might sound more scary than creative until you take a closer look at their natural beauty.
Jeanine Matlow is an interior designer from Metro Detroit and became a freelance writer specializing in interior design stories. You can reach her at [email protected]