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Would You Like That Ruler Supersized?

By Jeff Turrentine
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2004; Page H03

Very few of us have the money (or space) for an original piece by Claes Oldenburg, the sculptor whose gargantuan representations of everyday objects -- clothespins, lipstick tubes, billiard balls -- earned him, appropriately, no small fame. But one Delaware-based company, Great Big Stuff, has shrewdly sensed the market for . . . well, its name pretty much explains its specialty: toothbrushes, rulers, scissors, corkscrews and other commonplace items that are transformed by sheer size into pieces of affordable pop art.

Jeff Bruette, who founded the company in 2001, admits that the market for oversize items is not itself oversize. "We don't force our salesman to make cold calls telling people, 'Hey, guess what, we just got in an order of five-foot pencils!' " he says. "We wouldn't sell many that way." But he also claims to have a number of repeat customers -- suggesting the existence of a cult of XXL fanatics with lots of blank wall space and extra bedrooms.

Livin' Large: Great Big Stuff takes everyday things and blows them all out of proportion. (Julia Ewan - The Washington Post)

Worth noting is that these giant facsimiles are fashioned, whenever possible, from the same materials as their normal-size inspirations. Hence the six-foot-long ruler ($149) is made of wood, with a metal edge; the five-foot-long toothbrush ($199) has real bristles. (We're not entirely sure why this is worth noting, other than it seems to confer upon these wildly impractical items some semblance of authenticity and seriousness.) Browse and purchase items at www.greatbigstuff.com.

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