Thailand’s Beautiful Soap Flowers

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They look like beautiful exotic flowers, and they even smell the part, only unlike the real thing, Thai soap flowers last forever.

Although these days, soap flowers can be bought as souvenirs from all around Thailand, these scented masterpieces originated in the villages around Chiang Rai. When they weren’t too busy tending to their farms or working in the rice paddies, locals practiced carving on pieces of soap. Their hobby turned into a fine art, and the delicate soap flowers they sold at the local night markets soon captured tourists’ imagination.

The art of soap carving is passed down from generation to generation, and since it’s all done using a few carving knives, the beauty of the flowers depends a lot on the skill and finesse of the artist. Chiang Rai remains the best place to buy soap flowers as souvenirs, and visitors can witness the carving process first hand.

Take a look at the jaw-dropping soap flowers and tell me if you could ever use any of them for washing your hands. I’d maybe do it if it was the last piece of soap on Earth.

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The Gooey Chewing-Gum Sculptures of Maurizio Savini

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Italian artist Maurizio Savini has spent the last ten years creating amazing sculptures out of thousands of pieces of bright pink chewing gum.

Chewing gum may not be the most common media of the art world, but to 39-year-old Maurizio Savini it’s the most versatile material available. It’s easy to manipulate when warm, and can be cut with a knife, just like clay. Regardless of what many may think, chewing gum sculpting is an established art form, recognized all over the world, and Savini’s artworks are eagerly awaited by critics and connoisseurs, alike.

Disgusting as it may seem to some people, Maurizio Savini uses thousands of chewed up pieces of bubble gum for each of his sculptures. He molds them into the desired shapes and when the whole thing is done, he fixes the sculpture with formaldehyde and antibiotics. The amazingly detailed chewing gum sculptures of Maurizio Savini have sold fro up to $60,000 each.

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Cyckisk – The Bicycle Obelisk of Santa Rosa

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California-based artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector used around 340 bicycles and a tricycle to built the Ciclysk – a 65-foot-tall version of the Washington Monument.

The newly installed Ciclysk may be perceived as a monument that encourages people to ride bikes instead of driving cars, but its funding actually came from the “1-percent-for-public-art” that Nissan paid to open a big car dealership just south of where the odd obelisk is now located. Santa Rosa currently has a law that requires one percent of every major construction project be donated towards public art.

Although the Cyclisk looks like it’s made of brand new bicycle parts, artist Mark Grieve says he only used parts that beyond being used on a functional bike. All he did was cover his creation in a special coating that will keep it looking nice and colorful for a long time. The bicycle parts were all donated by members of the Santa Rosa community who were excited to contribute to the creation of their city’s newest landmark.

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Eggcubism – The Art of Painting on Egg Cartons

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Using the unique shape and texture of the egg carton to his advantage, Dutch artist Enno de Kroon creates fragmented and multifaceted images. He calls this new art form “eggcubism“.

Enno de Kroon says he has always experimented with distortions of perspective, and has had egg cartons around his studio for a long time, but needed to build up the courage to work with such an unusual art medium. Since the hindrances of the egg carton offer such a different perspective, depending on the angle it’s viewed from, Enno de Kroon was forced to approach painting in a whole new way.

Inspired by famous cubism masters like Picasso and Braque, who showed everyone how to take an object, a person or landscape, and show it from various angles, Enno de Kroon made looking at his artworks an interactive experience, where viewers had to discover the perfect viewing angles. But unlike traditional cubism, where there is just one right angle to an artwork, eggcubism features various viewing options, that turn a beautiful smiling lady into a five-eyed freak.

Check out more of Enno de Kroon’s amazing eggcubism masterpieces on his Flickr stream.

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The Suitcase Architecture of Yin Xiuzhen

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Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen creates her Portable Cities by carefully arranging discarded clothes and other pieces of fabric, in suitcases.

One of the most original artists of our time, Yin Xiuzhen says she first got the idea for her amazing Portable Cities while she was traveling. Looking at the conveyor belt, in an airport, waiting for her baggage, she felt like she was actually traveling with her home, and decided to use this idea in her art. According to Yin Xiuzhen, her Portable Cities represent the ease with which the modern man is able to travel from one city to the next.

In the expert hands of Yin Xiuzhen, old clothing articles worn by everyday urban citizens become unique pieces of architecture. So far, the artist has created some of the cities she’s visited throughout the years, including Berlin, Vancouver, Seattle and her home city of Beijing.

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The Incredible Wire Sculptures of Ivan Lovatt

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Artist Ivan Lovatt has recreated the faces of celebrities such as Michael Jackson or The Beatles, using nothing but chicken wire.

Ivan Lovatt is one of those artists who are always looking for new media to experiment with, and for him chicken wire proved to be just what he needed. Before starting to mold chicken wire into intricate portraits, Ivan used it to give structure to some of his earlier sculptures. At one point, he began creating wildlife out of the unusual medium, and as his skills developed, he moved to celebrity portraits.

Most of his wire portraits take over a month to complete and about one and a half times larger than life size. Somehow, he manages to twist, bend and pin the wire in such a way that his portraits end up so detailed you can actually see every hair on their head. He became a professional sculptor six years ago, and since then , his works have been displayed in galleries and museums all around the world.

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Ti Jian Zi – The Ancient Art of Shuttlecock Kicking

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One of the most popular traditional Chinese arts, Ti Jian Zi, known in the western world as shuttlecock kicking, requires a great deal of skill and practice.

The game of shuttlecock kicking is believed to have been invented sometime during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and gradually increased in popularity,  to a point where shops that specialized in the making of shuttlecocks began appearing all over China. The art of shuttlecock kicking reached its climax during the Qing Dynasty, when competitions were held between masters of the game from all over the country.

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The Typewriter Artworks of Keira Rathbone

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British artist Keira Rathbone uses typewriters, instead of brushes and pencils, to create amazing portraits and drawings.

27-year-old Keira Rathbone, from London, first started experimenting with typewriter art, when she was in university. She baought an old typewriter, from a flee market, in the hope that she would soon use it to write something. By the middle of her first year at the university, she hadn’t come up with anything to put down on paper, so she decided to use it as a drawing tool. The first results were promising, and young Keira quickly realized she would be exploring this new art form much further.

Fast forward to present day and Keira Rathbone is an established artist with her very own niche, praised by the entire artworld. She now has an arsenal of 30 typewriters which she has used to create unique portraits of Barrack Obama, Kate Moss, Marylin Monroe, and others.

Keira Rathbone says she simply turns the roller to move the sheet of paper, and uses different characters to create the shapes she wants. It might sound easy enough, but creating detailed artworks from simple letters, numbers and punctuation is definitely not the easiest thing to do.

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Jeremy May Creates Jewelry from Book Cutouts

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We’ve seen books used as an art medium before, but never as material for unique pieces of jewelry. Jeremy May manages to capture the beauty of paper and makes it available to everyone, in the shape of various fashion accessories. His Littlefly jewels are made from hundreds of laminated sheets of paper, covered by a layer of gloss.  As each of his pieces are impossible to replicate, they are all unique.

The pages for Littlefly jewels are carefully selected, and the finish products are shipped with the book they were created from. It’s not like you can read it anymore, but it make a great packaging.

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The Wood Veneer Paintings of Rob Milam

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Using an artform known as “marquetry”, Rob Milam creates beautiful paintings with wood veneer.

Marquetry is defined as the composition of an image using natural wood veneer, cut into pieces and glued on a substrate, sort of like a puzzle. Every one of Rob Milam’s marquetry paintings start with a photograph. He uses Photoshop to create a black-and-white image showing the dark and light values and uses anywhere from four to sixteen different wood veneers to recreate it.

Every species of wood has a distinctive grain pattern and colors range from creamy white (holy and English sycamore), to dark brown (Brazilian rosewood) and even black (bog oak). Though he usually uses only naturally colored wood, Rob Milam sometimes makes use of artificially colored blue and green veneer, for replicating the eye’s iris.

The pieces of wood veneer are cut into pieces by the artist himself, using chisels, knives and saws.

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The Cardboard Cameras of Kiel Johnson

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Cardboard is apparently one of the most popular art mediums of our time, and Kiel Johnson’s cardboard cameras are the latest in a series of impressive cardboard artworks.

From the cardboard-made Cakeland to the wonderful sculptures of Chris Gilmour, I’ve posted my share of cardboard creations, and to help me keep the tradition alive are Kiel Johnson’s amazing cardboard cameras. The American artist has crafted a whole series of cardboard cameras, from the “ancient” 8mm, to point and shoot, Polaroid, and even the latest DSLRs.

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The Weird Art of Dimitri Tsykalov

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Dimitri Tsykalov is one of the few artists out there who don’t discriminate between carnivores and omnivores, he creates art for both. The truth is this Russian artist just likes to experiment with a variety art mediums.

In “Meat”, one of the most disturbing art projects I’ve ever seen, Tsykalov  took a bunch of naked models and fitted them with weapons and armor fashioned from bloody pieces of meat. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be covered in nothing but chunks of red meat, but I’ll bet those models took some really long showers after the photo shoot.

His unique skulls, carved in fruits and vegetables, are not as shocking as his experience in the world of meat, but the level of detail and the unconventional medium draw just as much attention.

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Yet Another Awesome Iron Man Suit

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I’m a huge fan of cosplay, and although I’ve already featured a few home-made Iron Man costumes on OC, I just couldn’t help share the metal suit made by Ted Gorzkowski.

Ted is a carpenter by trade, but a talented blacksmith at heart. And since he’s always been a fan of superhero movies, he decided to put his blacksmith talents to the test and create a metal replica of Tony Stark’s famous suit. He spent months molding the pieces of metal, painting it in just the right colors and creating the arc reactors out of hundreds of LEDs, but the final result was totally worth the effort.

This Iron Man suit made by Ted Gorzkowski may not be as detailed as the War Machine replica created by cosplay master Anthony Le, but it’s definitely worthy of our praise. For more photos of this cosplay masterpiece, check out Ted’s MySpace profile.

Thanks a lot, Ted!

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The Bottle Cap Jewelry of Yoav Kotik

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On a quest to change the way people think about trash, Yoav Kotik uses plain bottle caps to create beautiful pieces of jewelry.

The 52-year-old Israeli artist used to work as an industrial designer, and also tested the waters in the insurance industry, before focusing all his attention on the art world. Though many might be tempted to think Yoav Kotik was inspired by environmental issues, he confesses he was simply inspired by the urban environment that surrounds him.

His unique jewelry sets from his “Precious Metal” collection are part precious (metals like silver and gold, as well as precious stones) and part junk (mainly useless bottle caps, bent or carved into unique artworks). The bottle caps are collected from various places and cultures around the world, and moulded into unique masterpieces.

Apart from his jewelry collection, Yoav Kotik has also created various bottle cap artworks, from flowers to chandeliers.

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The Steampunk Insects of Shojiro Yamauchi

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Although he only recently graduated from the Nihon University College of Art, Shojiro Yamauchi is already considered one of the most talented metal sculptors in Japan. His most recent collection, entitled “Inhabitants of a Certain Planet”, features giant steampunk insects, including a cicada with its wings spread, a spider and a number of large ants. You can see the marksmanship of the artist in the detailed photos below.

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