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    A wicker basket shaped like a big bug

    From a distance, the thing looked like a giant wasp with its wings clipped. I spotted the oversized bug when I ventured into another room at the auction house, wasting time as I waited for an etching by artist Joseph Holston to come up for bids.

    The thing wasn’t exactly a bug, but it had the contours of a wasp. It was weaved like a basket and it was a basket of sorts, just one with an odd shape. Its front – which looked like a head – curved upward, and its back end was elongated and curved. In the center of its back was one opening, with another smaller opening at what would have been the bug’s mouth.

    Does it resemble a wasp or an ant? It looked like both to me.

    It looked to be about 15 inches long. The piece was cradled on a knobby twisted piece of dark wood that itself looked frightening. The piece seemed to be handmade rather than commercially made – or at least that’s what I hoped. That way, it had stories to tell, and I’m always intrigued by the stories behind the objects.

    Was it purchased or made by a basket-weaver with an artistic hand but a macabre imagination? How was it used? Why was it finally put aside?

    Maybe it had once been used as a decorative basket, lovely in its dark strips of wicker, but now caked in dust from having lingered too long in a basement or attic.

    A look at the wicker basket from different angles.

    As I studied this piece, it also reminded me of something out of a sci-fi movie, and it started to look more and more like an ant rather than a wasp. I’m sure I’ve seen some bad B movie with an overgrown ant terrorizing a town. But I don’t suppose this one did, though.

    What do you think this is? Just an old basket grown sinister with age? Or something else?

    Sci-fi movies with oversized bugs: "The Wasp Woman (1959)" and "Empire of the Ants (1977)," based on a short story by H.G. Wells.



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