Sketch of the Week

This week I'm showing you what is perhaps one of the less savory aspects of Shelburne Museum's collections: dental pliers. The Museum has a collection of early 20th-century medical equipment on the second floor of its general store, including dental tools.

These pliers gruesome to behold, for sure, but they have an astonishingly line quality when you really stop to look at them. Just look at those swelling curves of the handles, for instance, or the chiseled appearance of the claw-like tips. They cast dramatic highlights and shadows too, making them all the more compelling to look at.

I'll admit, I dislike going to the dentist as much as anyone else, but it fascinates me as a medical discipline. I wrote about dentistry paintings in graduate school, and my great-grandfather was a dentist, so perhaps my interest is genetic as much as it is academic. I've always thought you had to be a special sort of person to want to spend your day poking around other people's mouths, and while I wouldn't want to do it myself, I respect those who do (unless it's for torture).

What's your take on dentistry?