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    Chewed pet toys as works of art

    What happens when a pet loves a toy a little (or maybe a lot) too much? In the book “Chewed,” mangled pet toys become whimsical and sometimes oddly touching portraits.

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    Chewed pet toys as works of art -

    What happens when a pet loves a toy a little (or maybe a lot) too much? Photographers Arne Svenson and Ron Warren saw a kind of bizarre beauty in mangled pet toys and turned them into whimsical and sometimes oddly touching portraits. In their book "Chewed," the photos are punctuated by colorful stories and essays from such luminaries as artists William Wegman and Roz Chast and designer Isaac Mizrahi.

    Man Ray's bear
    Photographer William Wegman is known for photographic portraits of dogs, mostly his own Weimaraners. This toy belonged to his first canine model, Man Ray, and has since been passed on to Man Ray's successors -- much the worse for wear.
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    The Phantom Duck -

    Photographer Arne Svenson solicited used pet toys from many people for "Chewed" and chose the ones that spoke to him. This duck "just had the demented look of a victim -- the misplaced beak," he said.
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    The Wayward Arm -

    "This came in a box with the body, and then the arm," photographer Arne Svenson explained. "At first I thought I'd shoot it without the arm." But the look of this toy orangutan's wayward eye gazing at his own wayward arm was just too irresistible.
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    Gertie Lou -

    "Chewed" photographer Arne Svenson sent mangled pet toys to a number of authors and artists and asked them to write stories inspired by the toys. Cartoonist Roz Chast, a regular New Yorker cartoon contributor, wrote one about this duck called "Gertie Lou." "This one I think is brilliant because the eyebrows are created by a nostril that became unraveled," Svenson said.
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    Doggie doughnut -

    This toy "arrived with a rubber hot dog that had also been eaten," photographer Arne Svenson recalled. "It's so luciously obscene -- that high gloss -- that it transcends animal eating."
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    Rough stuff(ing) -

    This toy arrived "completely unstuffed -- it was a rag with eyes -- but the stuffing was included with it," photographer Arne Svenson recalled. "I restuffed it just a little bit to give it some substance. But I was really shooting it for the eyes -- they were completely shattered by the teeth marks. This one screamed pit bull, not a little lap dog."
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    Daisy's daisy -

    Whenever "Chewed" photographer Arne Svenson needed to get a doggie toy damaged enough to shoot, he would simply send it downstairs from his studio to another artist who owned a pit bull named Daisy: "I would call and say, 'Is Daisy available?' " he explained. If she was, Svenson would send the toy down in the elevator "like a dumbwaiter," and shortly it would return in suitably mangled condition. This daisy is an unusual example because "Daisy did this kind of exquisitely, with a delicacy she normally lacked," Svenson said. "She picked it apart in a very elegant way."
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    Amnesia -

    When he first saw this mangled toy, "I opened the box and nearly screamed," photographer Arne Svenson said. "It reminded me of Cousin Itt from the Addams Family." Designer Isaac Mizrahi wrote a story to accompany the photograph. Svenson said: "He wrote an interview, essentially, and it starts, 'Daisy, what happened?' " The reply: "I can't remember, but I loved every minute of it."
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    The Headless Squirrel -

    In "Chewed," this portrait is accompanied by a story by Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern," titled "Squirrel: A Cautionary Tale." Zimmern also contributed a recipe -- for fried squirrel.
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    Green elephant -

    This elephant "was laying pretty much as you see it" when it arrived, photographer Arne Svenson recalled. In shooting it, he wanted to make it look like "those really sad photos in Africa where the elephant dies and all the other elephants gather around it." To that end, he tried "to make it look bigger -- give it some weight."
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    A Real rabbit -

    This portrait is accompanied in "Chewed" by a quote from the children's classic "The Velveteen Rabbit": "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com
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    'Chewed' -

    Mangled pet toys are featured in artistic photographs in "Chewed" by Arne Svenson and Ron Warren. The photos are accompanied by stories and essays from such luminaries as artists William Wegman and Roz Chast and designer Isaac Mizrahi.
    Arne Svenson / chewedbook.com