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The Tractor Creatures

Sometimes I cruise estate sales or Ebay pages looking for inspiration and weirdness to use in my art. 

On one such day I found a group of old rubber tractors sold as a repair lot. I recognized them as toys that were made by the Auburn Rubber Company (from the 30s, 40s, and 50s). I knew this because I have some collectible motorcycle toys from that company. 

The tractors were inexpensive because of their Frankensteined state and in my mind they were calling to be reused. Although I have to say I considered just keeping them because they were so neat …. but, I can’t keep everything until I have a giant warehouse and a museum that people flock to ….

Here’s the tractor that first grabbed my attention. 

Old rubber is great for assemblage because you can drill into it and it’s easy to work with, patch, and paint. The other thing I like about rubber is that the air-drying clay I use adheres to it well.

I decided I needed to make some art pieces from the tractors. After more scrounging through my materials, I came up with ideas for two pieces. One would be a diorama and one would be a wall hanging piece. Each would use one of the tractor engine bodies at the center. 

I took the tractors apart and molded heads and limbs to fit.

Over time I’ve collected some glass housings, usually for Japanese dioramas. I get these cheap because I also find damaged ones that no one wants. I combined one such housing with some finial feet that I pulled off of a decorative metal bowl that no one wanted.

Then I only took about a billion hours to add all the bits and pieces to the inside of the diorama and attach the feet. The feet were a real challenge because they were slightly different sizes and weren’t made to be feet. 

Here’s the final product.

Available to purchase -- contact me.

For the other piece, I used a wooden backing that I previously made using part of a piano keyboard cover and some junk wood. I also collect old books from discard piles and had this awesome retro cover from a book about electricity. Thus the second piece


Extra Photos

About Auburn Toys

Good site with info about Auburn Rubber Company:


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