A cool thing I stumbled upon at a nearby library was an old cigarette machine stocked with handmade art objects instead of cigarettes (!) The machine, now known as an “Art-o-mat,” is a former bona fide 1950s or 1960s era dispenser and now requires metal tokens to make a purchase instead of real money (the library staff just a few feet away sells each token for $5.00). With said metal token, a person can choose his/her art object; on the machine’s small outside panels each object is briefly described.
In the name of all things artful and to benefit all such endeavors, I gladly gave my $5.00 for a token. To choose a small art piece was a bit hard, and it turns out my first choice had sold out. The next choice turned out all right and after pulling the knob dispenser I received a small brown box that had a label running across it entitled “Heart House.” Contained within the box was a lovely crocheted heart pin that has a bright yellow ribbon woven through it. The crochet thread is bright white.
It turns out that this work of art was actually hand crafted at a place known as “Heart House” in Bangladesh. A slip of paper describing “Heart House” was included along with the crocheted heart pin. Here is the background provided on “Heart House” in Bangladesh:
Heart House was founded in the 1970s to provide income for women widowed by the war for independence. Making craft items kept many from being forced into prostitution.
Heart House is now made up of more than one hundred widows and handicapped artisans.
Art Work includes:
–Hindu Bride dolls
–Muslim Bride dolls
–Doll in a Lungi (men’s skirt)
–Doll in a Sari (women’s dress)
–Mru & Tripura Tribal Dolls
Each piece is individually crafted and painted by hand
Where to find your nearby Art-o-mat
Art-o-mat machines are located throughout the U.S. There is a website that describes the Art-o-mat concept and provides listings of locations. Here is the link: http://www.artomat.org/
Who knows what handmade art object awaits you in your nearby Art-o-mat dispenser?!