Friday, February 19, 2010

Free Fridays: And a Heavenly Gift of Thrift

You might have noticed that much of this week has in some way involved my dear LA pal Ruth Handel who was in town several days ago. Here's a story along with pictures that she sent me of her almost-free treasure that turned out to be The Gift of Thrift.

Ruth's own words are so beautiful that I'll let her tell the story:

Browsing an estate sale several years ago, I spotted a little 6" sculpture made of wood. The sale was heavily attended, but no one was looking at this little chipped piece sitting up on a shelf in a studio space. The sale was in the home of an artist, and we purchased a few of her photographs and knick-knacks. I was strongly attracted to the shape -- I've always loved kinetic sculpture. The sale organizers threw it in for a few dollars with the rest of our purchases. I've enjoyed looking at it on my desk with a collection of other little wooden goodies.

It's been raining a lot lately in Los Angeles, but this morning the sky is clear and blue and a light breeze is blowing. It's just perfect. I was out running an errand with my little boy over on Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica, when I glanced up to admire the outlines of a wonderful 30 foot high kinetic sculpture in the corner of a mini-mall across the street. I could not believe my eyes: it's the actual sculpture of the maquette on my shelf. I blinked a few times to be sure.

We crossed over to check out the plaque and stood in silent wonder at Ellie Stern's beautiful work. At the time of the estate sale, Ellie was living with Alzheimer's, and her children were closing down her art-filled home. I felt deeply for this artistic woman who was unable to enjoy and control her life anymore. Thousands of people pass by her magnificent sculpture daily, and I wonder how often anyone stops to read the plaque, installed 30 years ago.

Here's to finding treasures, and more treasures, Of course to Ellie, if she's not around anymore--Hello up there!

Did you feel a tug at your heart like I did?

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


  1. Wonderful! and here is to all artists who are real treasures but often unsung treasures. Merci for this sensitive post.

  2. How wonderful....almost makes me have goose bumps when you said it was exactly like the one on your shelf :)

    LuLu Kellogg

  3. How wonderful! Shows how that what calls to our hearts is truly treasured and can even be a 'treasure'.

  4. Very touching. What a lovely rememberence.

    Thank you.

  5. Wow! How cool is that?!!! Almost seems like Ruth was led to the sculpture.

  6. Wow....what a wonderful story....what a sweet gift!

    Your book looks fabulous!

    Have a wonderful weekend.


  7. Es una historia preciosa. El artista sería feliz de que su amigo tiene la demo. Es una persona muy sensible.

  8. Definite tug at the heart! what a great story, poignant and can be so surprising sometimes..

    hope you're enjoying a nice weekend,




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