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Not content to let ordinary household objects go unadorned, Carlene Challis of Laguna Beach turns them into functioning art works.

Challis, who has been active in the art field for more than 30 years, began her Interior Art collection with a series of hand-painted gift cards in 1990.

Since then, she has been embellishing garden gloves ($15), aprons ($29), wooden kitchen stools ($100), pillows (two sizes, ranging in price from $80 to $155) and other household items. She even paints folding screens and trompe l'oeil murals.

Challis, who works in watercolor and acrylics, was the art restorer for Challis Galleries Laguna Beach, where she specialized in hand-tinting antique lithographs.

Her pieces can be purchased at Cynthia's of Laguna, 384 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. For more information, call (714) 497-3155.

Cuff Links

Even though jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris doesn't use precious stones in his works, his new flatware pattern for Swid Powell/Reed & Barton is quite a gem.

Translating the free-form swirls of his signature cuff bracelet, Morris creates tableware that is simple yet dramatic, an ideal complement to any table dressing--formal or casual.

Morris, who has a penchant for crosses, hearts and sinuous shapes, distinguished himself with his collections for Donna Karan. He learned his trade by reading the book "Step by Step Jewelry."

Morris' high-quality flatware is sold separately or in five-piece place settings ($50 each) in Orange County at Bullock's and Neiman Marcus. A five-piece hostess set (butter serving knife, cold meat fork, sugar spoon, tablespoon and pierced tablespoon) is $75.

For a free brochure or more information, call (800) 343-1383.

One Person's Junk...

Some call it treasure, some call it clutter, but to many, it's just plain junk. That is the topic of a beautifully illustrated book by Mary Randolph Carter, "American Junk" (Viking Penguin, $30).

Carter, who also took the photographs, takes readers on a journey through the country, sorting and classifying junk in such groups as "solid gold," "something fishy," "animal house" and "shell shocked," which features, among other things, a shell frame housing a postcard of a "Rubenesque beauty."

Carter also gives tips on what and where to buy items and how to let your collectibles stand out in a room.

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