All Is Vanity

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Project by Kerux posted 10-24-2007 08:11 AM 1808 views 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
All Is Vanity
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The idea and design came from a Charles Allen Gillbert painting from 1892. The “Vanity” is considered by many to be one of the finest optical illusions ever conceived. The painting is an ambiguous illusion with an allegorical theme.

The two aspects become clear as you study the figure. It can be seen as either, a beautiful girl gazing at her reflection in a large mirror; or the scene can be realized as a grinning human skull. The girl’s two heads make up the eye sockets of the skull, her vanity items, and an embroidered table cloth form the teeth and jaws.

The total size with including frame is 17” x 13”. Cut out (scroll saw) from 1/4 Birch. A little Danish Oil rubbed in for the finish. I wish now that I had cut this out of something with a little more grain.


7 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4637 days

#1 posted 10-24-2007 12:26 PM

good thing I read the description – I would have missed out on the girl. Very cool.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4694 days

#2 posted 10-24-2007 03:25 PM

That’s downright amazing. It makes me want to examine it up close to make myself believe it is actually scroll sawed. It looks like a pen and ink drawing.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4350 days

#3 posted 10-24-2007 03:43 PM

Wow! Scroll saw? I read the description and still thought it was burned (in which case it would still be “Wow”)! Charlie’s comment made me go back and look again. You can see the depth in the lower two photos. That’s amazing! My scroll saw work looks about like my jigsaw work!

-- -- --

View mot's profile


4926 posts in 4512 days

#4 posted 10-24-2007 03:53 PM

I thought it was a skull from the smaller picture. I’m glad I clicked to see the larger one. Pretty amazing!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Kerux's profile


812 posts in 4360 days

#5 posted 10-24-2007 08:35 PM

Thanks everyone. For people to think it is drawn, lasered or burned is best compliment I can get for my scroll work.

Charlie, I’d love for you to see it but it sold. I’m thinking of doing another one, but if you don’t get the eyes and face of the girl just right, I’ll waste a lot of time in do overs… trust me I know.


View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4466 days

#6 posted 10-24-2007 08:38 PM

Wow. That is some seriously detailed work. Nice!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3463 days

#7 posted 12-28-2011 03:35 AM

I love illusions in wood and this is one of the best I have seen.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

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