In my last post, I talked about a souvenir shaker set that was a miniature representation of an actual building. This time, an even more accurate set of shakers claims actually to be made of part of the thing it represents. At first glance, it might be a little hard to figure out what it’s trying to represent:
Now it becomes clear that this set is an attempt at an accurate representation of Mt. St. Helen’s. One piece represents the top of the mountain, as blown off in the 1980 eruption. The other represents what was left after that top was blown off. Or in other words, this is a before-and-after set: the two pieces placed on top of each other represent what the mountain looked like before the eruption, the bottom piece on its own after you remove the top what it looked like after. The movement of a user in choosing to pick up one or the other shakers in order to season some food then replicates the action of Mother Nature in blowing the top off the mountain. You salt your food and you make a volcano happen.
But wait, folks, there’s more. not only does this set look like and act like a volcano erupting, but also, the material it’s made of includes actual ash left behind by the eruption. It is itself actually part of that which it represents.
I’m not sure I know what to think about this. It seems significantly different from all my other shaker sets. I don’t, after all, have a shaker set representing Aunt Jemima made out of real pancakes. Or, for that matter out of a read woman of color (although unfortunately I can imagine kinds of people who might be happy about possessing such a disgusting thing–all too easily). and yet, this set still works as a miniaturization of, and so, I suspect, a sort of defanging of the enormity of the eruption. It’s a cute surrogate that makes thinking about the vast forces of nature more manageable–and more dismissable? On the other hand, this set, with it’s rough ashy surface, feels much different from most other shakers–not sleek and shiny and smooth and safe, but shiny and yet rougher, abrasive a little, still redolent of the danger of its origins.