Cats Cradle

There is an unconventional shop on historic Center Street in Provo.  From the moment you step in you’re a part of the motley jumble of dramatic and well-crafted items from all over the world.  Saints, angels, and devils perch on Arts & Crafts pieces along with art, props, holiday ephemera, and estate jewelry.  It’s the kind of stuff you would never find in your grandmother’s attic unless she was descended from Father Junipero Serra and married to Rod Serling.

An example of the singular quality found here is the medical model who stands at the heart of the shop.  She is human-size and handmade of porcelain-like paper-mache. She is divided down the middle. On the right side, the face shows a pleasant-looking female with red hair, blue eyes, and a hint of pink lipstick on her agreeable smile. Her eye and brow are caught in a moment of hopefulness. On the left side the skin is missing and in its place is an artistic rendering of the muscle, veins, and glands beneath. Her eye is frozen in a stare, ready to be examined.  Little clasps at her side invite further inspection.  Indeed, her abdomen and her head open to reveal brightly painted organs that are removable.  Some organs, such as the heart and the brain have tiny doors that can be opened to reveal more intricate detail.  It turns out that she was made in Japan in the early 1900s and was sold to a Payson, Utah physician for $3,000.  She is currently for sale for $2900.

This is actually two shops, Cats Cradle and Antiques Gallery.  Confected by Glen Rollins and Gary Klllpack, respectively, it is part museum/part stage set of ojbects they’ve culled from South America and Europe as well as from Texas, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  And Provo too — according to Killpack “We get a lot of pieces locally — stuff just comes out of the woodwork.”

Both owners had shops in Salt Lake City for a short time, but have remained in various provo locations for more than 20 years.  Both are Provo natives.  Rollins went on a mission for the LDS Church to Minnesota/Wisconsin — “A foreign country,” he insists.  He planned on studying painting at BYU or The Art Institute of Chicago but started buying and selling interesting stuff and noticed that he was having much more fun than his studious friends were.  Killpack did graduate from BYU and went on a mission as well — to New York City.  That must have done it.

Killpack’s contribution to this panoply is American art pottery, Arts & Crafts pieces, art, and architectural elements.  Rollins is known widely as ‘the doll guy’ and he also brings in religious art and icons from private collectors, estate jewelry, and vintage holiday ephemera.  Somber icons dating from 1700 − 1900 stand among leering devils of various materials and epochs. 

Doll’s heads from Kewpie to Marie Antoinette line up, oblivious to class distinction.  Another medical model of the head is entirely made of wax. One Pandora doll has another saint trapped in his/her cage.  A stern Easter Rabbit oversees some languid dolls dressed in Carnivale costumes, as though they may need some reigning in later — remember that Twilight Zone episode about the doll?

Who brought in this little lamb toy —

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the life-sized stuffed dog toy made of real lamb’s wool?  It must have been Digger, the resident terrier pictured below with his person, Killpack.

Rollins says this is a golden age to buy antiques.  He is finding higher quality and lower prices than he has in 20 years.  Of course goods have always been sold and re-sold.  As one of his friends says about buying old stuff from other people:

“It’s the second oldest profession.”

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5 Responses to “Cats Cradle”

  1. Pam S. July 14, 2010 4:10 am
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    A girl after my own heart. Loved it!

  2. Wagner Chavarria Salazar May 21, 2012 12:52 am
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    Great website!!! I will subscribe to your rss and will return. :)

  3. Laurel Parker July 30, 2012 10:10 am
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    The ‘lamb’ pictured above is actually a poodle. They differ from lambs in that they have a bigger, more blunt nose, bigger ears, and often their tails stand up, while lambs’ tails hand down.

    I see Glen Rollins and his fabulous stock every year at the National Doll Festival, which travels to different cities (Washington DC in 2013 and San Antonio in 2014). For anyone who prefers the quirky and the rare, it’s definately worth the trip, either to the shop in Provo or to the Doll Festival.

  4. CC July 10, 2014 5:07 am
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    One of my favorite places to explore! I can spend hours in there!

  5. G L Page April 11, 2017 11:23 am
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    Nice to see someone else is appreciative of the Gilgal Garden. I’ve taken many people there over the years.

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