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Tea Strainer

about 1945–50
Carlyle H. Smith (American, 1912–2004)

Object Place: Lawrence, Kansas, United States


5.7 x 12.5 cm (2 1/4 x 4 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver flatware

A mastodon-tooth fragment, rounded and polished, serves as the handle to a deep biomorphically shaped bowl that displays piercings in an abstract pattern. The interior is gilded.

This silver strainer was fashioned by Carlyle Smith within a few years of his arrival in Lawrence, Kansas. It displays a handle made from a polished brown mastodon fossil. The fossil — a fragment of a tooth discovered by Smith in the nearby Wakarusa River — was an unusual but sympathetic choice for artists of the period, who often chose wood, and especially ebony, as a warm complement to metal. The abstract piercings, the biomorphic shape of the bowl, and the carved handle make the strainer an exemplary piece of domestic silver from Smith’s mature period.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.




“925 SMITH” incised on handle.


Retained by the artist until made a gift to the Museum.

Credit Line

Gift of Carlyle and Isabelle Smith