The Scale of It

Today is all about scale. And no, I’m not talking about the one in your bathroom.

Almost every budding art student learns the unique vocabulary specific to art dialogue. One of the foundational assignments in my undergrad coursework required playing with the scale — also known as the relative proportion — of an object.

The Assignment

The assignment was to take something that is ordinarily tiny and make it surprisingly large, or conversely, we could take something large and make it minuscule. In essence, the assignment was a “scale switch”.

As I reflect on my chosen solution, my inspiration came from a daily tea drinking ritual. I decided to make the common tea sachet into a giant, larger-than-life, very big teabag.

For the tea sachet staple, I found heavy gauge aluminum wire; for the mesh that contains the tea, I visited a local fabric store and bought a huge roll of transparent, thin fabric; for the string, I found an inch diameter white rope. It was magic. My roommate cackled at me when she found me inside the fabric construction, creating the perfect folds.

After collecting buckets full of autumn “tea leaves” and designing a giant poster-sized tag, I had to come up with a solution to tote the large-and-in-charge tea sachet across campus for critique. Imagine a smallish freshman girl carrying a teabag nearly twice her size… It was indeed memorable.


Think about the relative scale of the objects in your kitchen. What items can you discover that have variations in size? What items might you swap for a delightful result?

I found onions! Red and yellow… big and small…

I found shell pasta – Large (Conchiglioni), medium (Conchiclie) and tiny (Conchigliette). I wonder what I could do with these?

Mother and child?

We almost always “cut” things down to size. To make a large scale impact, go for really fast food and skip the chopping.

What items can you leave whole? Instead of going small with slicing, dicing and chopping, what food can you roast, sauté, braise, bake or boil — as it is?

Try carrots.

Cooking time isn’t dramatically altered, since carrots are so slender. A little lemon juice and halves alongside…

How about some trimmed scallions; a little salt, some herbs, pepper and olive oil… 400 degrees for 30 minutes…

All you need is a fork. This would be a great accompaniment to meat or fish, too!

Oooh. I found an orange and a clementine… Dessert?

Artsy rabbit trail: Spherical produce inspires me. It’s all about reflected light, highlights, shadows, middle values and cast shadows. This is a drawing lesson waiting to happen. It’s time to break out my sketchbook and do light studies.

You get the idea – size is relative, but the joy of experimenting with the vast variety of sizes among ingredients remains absolute!

…So, what’s in your kitchen, and what are you going to do with it?

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  • Amber

    Hee hee! I like this post. 😀