Object Lessons, No. 1 : Wax Jaw

I love old objects. I love the way they look - rusted, chipped, cracked. I love the way they feel - heavy, solid, or ready to crumble. They offer me endless inspiration and comfort. These are some of my favorite objects.

This is my antique wax anatomical model of a child's jaw. Dylan and I got a large lot of old dental implements and bits and bobs from a man on Craigslist in 2008. He was selling the treasures for a friend whose father had been a dentist in New York in the 1920s. That is the extent of the information we have on our little jaw's personal history. As to its birth, according to the lovely peeling old labels on the back, it was made in Germany and then imported to New York by a man named Gustav Scharmann. I think the German label translates to something along the lines of "Wax Preparation. Keep out of the sun." Makes sense, and we've complied, keeping in it our dark hallway where nary a ray of sunlight hits.

The label under the jaw reads "Dentes decidui" which I believe translates to deciduous teeth, meaning baby teeth, and apparently, according to the internets, also known as milk teeth.

Little known and sort of boring fact about me, I only ever lost 2 of my baby teeth. The rest refused to fall out, and my permanent teeth started growing in all around them. For awhile I had nearly two complete rows of teeth, earning me the nickname Dragon Teeth, or D.T. for short (actually, that was a pretty good one, Mom). Eventually I had to have the rest pulled, 4 at a time (they could only numb part of my mouth at a time for fear that I might swallow my tongue) which was pretty much the most horrible thing ever. I became very familiar with laughing gas at that time. I remember the first time they gave it to me, the dentist told me to think of something nice like puppies, which I thought was hilarious, and, deciding to teach him a thing or two about little girls, thought of alligators instead. (It didn't really occur to me that he didn't know what I was thinking.) He had the last laugh when I left with a drooling bleeding face full of cotton balls. I still love alligators though.