At first glance you might think Iris and Larry Ehrlich play with paper dolls. Standing on the counters and lining shelves in Little Folks Originals Inc. in South Pasadena are small figures _ walking, lying down, playing tennis or baseball or football, strumming guitars, flexing muscles, dancing and getting married.
They all are photographs _ laminated onto Lucite, cut out and placed in a stand _ instead of looking stiffly out from a frame.
It is the sort of thing that stirs imaginations. All the pictures are intricately cut out and more lifelike than if relegated to a frame.
"We can also do personalized (life-sized) statues," said Ehrlich, owner of Little Folks. "And we're trying to figure if a bride and groom would put on their wedding clothes before the wedding so we could make a cake topper of them."
The possibilities are endless, he said. You and your husband, sitting sideways with feet outstretched, become a pair of bookends; your bridesmaids in cutout form, as place cards at a bridal luncheon; your children as little figures on stands, marching across grandma and grandpa's mantle.
Not all cutouts are full-size photographs. The waist-up figures also are effective. Prices range from $19.98 for a 4-by-6 inch picture to $29.98 for an 8-by-10 inch picture.
Customers provide the photos that become various works of art. "I'm not in competition with photography studios," Ehrlich said. Life-size picture statues cost much more. He also gives group discounts to organizations.
He has several variations in his treatment of pictures. Pop-outs _ figures cut from their background, raised and then set against the original background _ are popular. The procedure costs an additional $15. Figures also can be cut out and superimposed against a different background. Picture yourself against the Paris skyline.
Ehrlich's neighbors in the Pasadena Square Shopping Center like what he is offering. Every store has a child's photo sculpture. Ann and Bernie Nabbs at the Horse and Jockey Pub have their grandson's figure on the bar. "I think it's a great idea," she said. "I just got some more pictures taken and will get them done."
Vicky Payne has a photo of her daughter at her station in Just Nails Inc. "I just got an 8-by-10 picture of her and some family portraits done for the grandparents," she said.
Little Folks customer Lani Tufts' son caught a large grouper. That photo has become a picture sculpture. She already has given it to her husband for a Father's Day gift. "Getting it done this way made it unique," she said.
The shop, at 1155 Pasadena Ave. S, has been open only four weeks. But Ehrlich, 55, sees the satisfaction of all his needs as an entrepreneur in the shop. "I'm a frustrated artist, so it satisfies that need," he said. "I can use my sales techniques here and my business ability. So it has everything."
Ehrlich, a New Jersey native, has been in a variety of businesses including advertising, selling sportswear and a card and gift shop, a venture in which his wife Iris joined him.
Mrs. Ehrlich was in another business, but joined him at Little Folks when it opened. Both were struck with the cleverness of photo sculpture when they happened on a similar business while shopping in Hyde Park in Tampa.
"Then we were visiting our daughter in New Jersey and I had a Saturday morning to kill," Ehrlich said. "I happened on this place that sold the equipment to make these pictures."
That was it. He investigated, got instructions from the manufacturers, and started.
Now it is a breeze. He laminates the picture on Lucite, which can be white, black, or Day-Glo orange, yellow, lime or pink, and cuts the figures out with a coping saw, over which is placed a large magnifying glass to assure accuracy in the intricate cutting process.
And there you are, standing next to a bud vase on the coffee table.