The Photographic Pencil-Drawn Portraits of Franco Clun

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Italian artist Franco Clun uses only pencil and paper to create these incredibly realistic portraits that can easily be mistaken for photographs. Believe it or not, he’s a self-taught drawing master who has never studied art…

I’ve always found hyperrealism fascinating, and the collection of articles on this amazing art genre that I’ve posted on Oddity Central throughout the years is proof of that. I never get tired of looking at drawings and paintings so masterfully executed that they resemble high-resolution photos, and I consider myself lucky whenever I discover the works of truly gifted artists, like Franco Clun. The Italian-born master of the pencil says he has never taken art classes and that everything he knows he learned from experience and from reading some drawing manuals. I guess you can say he’s living proof that practice makes perfect, and that following your passions in life can truly lead to amazing things. Although he has had to take a long break from drawing to dedicate himself to other things, his love for graphite remained strong, and now he’s wielding his trusty pencils again to create marvelous works of art.

Franco-Clun-drawings

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Belarusian Woodcarver Makes Intricate Clocks Exclusively from Wood

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In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine someone making accurate clock mechanisms without using a single piece of metal. And yet, Andrey Martyniuk, a woodcarver from Belarus, manages to create intricate clocks exclusively from wooden components.

As a child, Andrey Matyniuk loved to sketch. He then got an education as an engineer, and later in life developed a passion for wood carving. After a master carpenter told him that wooden clocks are the pinnacle of perfection, he decided to combine all his skills to create artistic yet functional mechanism exclusively from wood. Bit it was easier said than done, and the ambitious woodcarver spent three years working on his first wooden clock. He tried copying the mechanism of a metal clock, but although the principle is exactly the same, there are two important things to take into consideration to ensure the clock measures time accurately – the softness of the material and the humidity of the environment. After years of experimenting, the master learned he had to increase the size of the gear teeth and treat the wood with a special compound to make it resistant to humidity. He also found that wood had a big advantage over metal – it has a much lower coefficient of thermal expansion, so it is much less affected by temperature changes than metal.

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Money Artist Makes Beautiful Collages from Thousands of Old Soviet Banknotes

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Igor Arinich is known as the “Money Artist”in his home country of Belarus. He earned that nicknamed after he became famous for creating intricate collages made exclusively from old Soviet banknotes.

He is not the only artist in the world who uses money as his main medium. In fact, he started doing it himself after seeing the works of an American artist who made dollar collages, and he knows of another Russian artist who makes art from modern Rubles. But after trying to imitate them by using modern Belarusian currency, and euros, he realized none of today’s banknotes are as beautiful and colorful as old Soviet bills. So he began visiting flee markets in his city of Minsk, buying every Soviet banknote he could find, dating from 1961 to 1991. It all started as a hobby, but after people became interested in his craft, he decided to become a professional artist. Although he doesn’t want to reveal the number of money collages he has sold so far, Arinich says he charges between $700 and $2000 for his unique artworks, and many of them are sold abroad.

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Giethoorn – A Rural Venice in the Netherlands

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The tiny Dutch village of Giethoorn, located right in the middle of the De Wieden nature reserve, is fondly known as the Venice of Netherlands. Quite an apt name for the place, since it has distinct features that are reminiscent of the romantic Italian city – 7.5 km of canals, about 50 little wooden bridges, boat rides, quaint houses, and more.

If there’s something that Giethoorn does not have in common with Venice, it’s history. The small village was first inhabited in the year 1230 by a group of fugitives from the Mediterranean regions. It is said that when they first arrived in the area, they noticed an unusually large number of goat horns that were left over after the big flood of St Elisabeth had ravaged the area in 1170. So they named their settlement Geytenhorn (horn of goats), but with dialect changes over the years the name gradually changed to Giethoorn. There’s a story about how all the lakes came to be as well. Early settlers took to peat mining; they dug for peat in the areas that suited them the most and left holes in the ground. These holes soon filled up and turned into lakes of varying sizes. So to carry the peat from one area to another, they would sail through navigable canals and ditches. The means of transportation that was once a necessity is now a huge tourist attraction.

Giethoorn-Venice

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Indian Sculptor Makes Creepy Bust of Favorite Politician from His Own Blood

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An Indian man known only as Hussaini has recently unveiled a shocking work of art – a bust of J. Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of the Tamil Nadu state, made from 11 litres of frozen human blood, donated by him and 32 of his students.

Apparently, nothing shows admiration for a person like making a creepy sculpture of them from human blood. At least that’s what Hussaini, a sculptor and archery teacher from Chennai, must have thought when he got the idea to create a bust of Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha out of his own frozen blood, for her 65th birthday. The noted artist wanted to thank the politician for being the “most sports loving CM of India” and for her support to his archery association, and since he had a few liters of his own blood stored for special occasions, he decided to put it to good use. You see, Hussaini has had his blood drawn at three-month intervals, over the last eight years, waiting for an opportunity to use it as a medium for his sculpture. But he only had 6.5 liters of blood, and this special project required 11. Luckily, his 32 archery students were more than willing to donate the extra 4.5 liters needed to complete the project.

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Steve Casino’s Celebrity Figurines Are Nuts, Literally!

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Steve Casino, better known as the “Painter of Nuts” creates detailed celebrity figurines out of peanut shells and mixed media. His collection includes big names like James Brown, Andy Warhol or Elton John.

One day, Steve Casino was eating peanuts, when he noticed one was kind of looked like him. So he started painting a cartoon version of himself on the shell and showed it to his friend, Neil. He thought it was pretty funny, and this inspired Steve to pursue this idea further. He decided to try a celebrity next, so he picked out another peanut and did Joey Ramone, of punk rock band The Ramones. It turned out pretty good for a first attempts, but he got much better at it with each new peanut figurine he made. Trying o perfect the technique, looking for the right materials and painting detailed faces was a lot of fun, and Steve was hooked. Now he’s known as the Painter of Nuts and his work is starting to get some much-deserved publicity on the Internet.

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Woman Spends a Year Building Hogwarts Replica from 400,000 LEGO Pieces

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LEGO master Alice Finch has spent over 12 months piecing together an impressive model of the Hogwarts school of magic, from the Harry Potter movies, complete with decorated and populated interiors.

LEGO makes its own official Harry Potter sets, but they weren’t enough for master builder Alice Finch. While the mother of two understands why the Danish toy company makes sets that are only finished on one side and accessible on the back, she wanted to build her own version that was architecturally accurate with 4 walls and a roof, minifigs scale, and also playable for big and little hands. She had been to many of the places in Oxford were some of the movie scenes were shot, so she already knew what it should look like. Still, Alice did plenty of research for her LEGO Hogwarts: she consulted J.K. Rowling’s books, watched the blockbuster Harry Potter movies and even went to the Harry Potter studio tour in London to see the sets in person. Many times, the details in the books and those in the films didn’t coincide, so she had to choose what worked best. But, after 12 months of piecing together her monumental model from around 400,000 LEGO pieces, she had created every Harry Potter fan‘s dream – her very own Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

LEGO-Hogwarts

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Artist Recreates the World’s Most Famous Cities from Cardboard Boxes

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Using only corrugated cardboard boxes and glue, renowned English artist Chris Gilmour has managed to recreate some of the world’s most famous cityscapes in stunning detail.

We first featured Chris Gilmour’s amazing cardboard sculptures back in 2009, but his latest project, titled “You can build anything when you put your mind to it“, is probably the most impressive one yet. The talented artist used common packaging boxes and glue to build models of some of the most iconic landmarks in the world, and did it all in record time. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Gilmour managed to make a 40-foot-wide replica of London in just two days. Featuring the river Thames at the center, the fragile work of art also includes an intricate replica of Big Ben, a functional model of Tower Bridge and a rotating cardboard Big Eye. Part of an advertising campaign for the Bankers Box brand, the project also included incredibly detailed cardboard replicas of Paris and Berlin.

Chris-Gilmour-London

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Conquer Your Fears in China’s Snake Village

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Nestled in the heart of a vast farmland in East China’s Zhejiang province, the small village of Zisiqiao has a pretty common look, but it hides a scary secret. The aptly names “snake village” is home to thousands of the most feared snaked species on Earth.

Snakes are a vital ingredient in Chinese medicine, and are also widely used to make soup and wine believed to increase a person’s immunity. As the number one snake village in China, Zisiqiao breeds and sells over 3 million snakes per year, to satisfy the ever-increasing demand. The 160 snake-breeding families living here now boast an annual income of several thousands yuan, and in this Year of the Snake, a significant profit increase is expected. The once poor village of Zisiqiao is now the envy of similar rural communities, with some of the larger snake farms making tens of thousands of dollars from this lucrative business. Obviously, it’s not the easiest job in the world, and most breeders admit they have been bitten several time, even by deadly snakes, but the rewards are definitely worth the risk.

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Who Needs a Paintbrush When You’ve Got Magic Fingers

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You probably thought finger painting was just for kids, but Iris Scott is determined to prove you wrong. Wearing a pair of latex glove, the American artist dips her fingers in color paint and wiggles them on the canvas to create beautiful work of art.

“I see the world through ‘finger painted’ colored glasses,” Seattle-based Iris Scott says. “I paint what I see. Finger paintings are hiding everywhere, sometimes I catch them when I’m walking down the sidewalk, or lounging in a living room.  I search for color relationships, and intriguing forms.” The young artist discovered this ingenious painting technique while on a relaxing artistic retreat in Taiwan. She was exercising her painting techniques in an air-conditioned room, when she realized she needed to go clean her brushes before switching to bright colors. But that required leaving the room and facing the high temperatures outside, so Iris just put away her painting tools and started using her fingers. “I knew within 10 strokes that finger painting with oils was what I would spend the rest of my life doing,” the 28-year-old remembers about that very first finger-painting experience.

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Beautiful Word Paintings Are Made with Deconstructed Book Text

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Jamie Poole works mainly as a landscape painter and art teacher, but today we’re going to look at his unique style of painting with words by using shredded poetry and book text to create   incredible works of art.

WE’ve featured some pretty unbelievable text artworks in the past, from John Sokol’s hand-written portraits of famous writers, to the detailed dog portraits of Florida-based artist Stephen Kline, but English artist Jamie Poole sets himself apart by using shredded pieces of text from poetry books and novels. His works are all large scale, meaning he has to use hundreds, sometimes thousands of deconstructed text pieces to achieve the effect he’s looking for. Despite the rigidity of the material he uses for his artistic pieces, compared to the commons paintbrush or pencil, Jamie Poole always manages to nail every detail he desires, from perfectly placed shadows, to little things like the glow in his subjects’ eyes, or rebel hair strands that make them look so much more realistic.

Jamie-Poole-text-self-portrait

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Coober Pedy – Australia’s Underground Town

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Coober Pedy is a small town that’s one of a kind – for being down under in the Land Down Under. Yes, it’s the world’s only underground town, and it’s in Australia.

Located in South Australia, known for being the driest state on the driest continent on Earth, the town of Coober Pedy was established in 1915, when opal was first discovered in the region and miners started settling in. The temperature and weather conditions were so harsh that the miners began digging their homes into the hillsides. All they wanted was to find some respite from the scorching sun, but in the process they ended up creating a small town for themselves. To this day, the people of Coober Pedy prefer to build their houses under the ground. Summers are harsh around here, with temperatures easily rising over 40 degrees Celsius. Air conditioning is a necessity, not a luxury, if you choose to live above ground. But the scenario is completely different in the underground homes of Coober Pedy. The temperature remains at a cool, constant 24 degrees and the humidity doesn’t go beyond 20%. Winters can be rather cold, but people are willing to make that kind of compromise.

Coober-Pedy-Australia

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Het Arresthuis – A Luxury Prison Hotel You Won’t Want to Escape from

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After serving as one of the Netherlands most feared prisons for almost 150 years, Het Arresthuis, in Roermond, has been converted into a luxury hotel that no one wants to escape from anymore.

Het Arresthuis opened its doors in 1862, as a prison. Obviously, no one came here to stay by their own accord, during the 19th and 20th century, but things have changed a lot since then. The jail closed down for good in 2007, and now that the facility has been transformed into a luxurious hotel, guests actually pay big money to spend at least a night in one of the old holding cells. Although “cells” is not exactly the right word to describe the chic accommodations at Het Arresthuis. The 105 prisoner’s quarters have been converted into 40 spacious rooms,  including 24 standard rooms, 12 deluxe rooms, and four suites, all of which feature modern furnishings and chic interior design. They are all equipped with air conditioning, a flat screen TV, free WiFi, and even a personal coffee and tea machine, and the hotel’s include a sauna, a fitness center, a central patio with olive trees, and an organic herb garden. If you’re wondering about bars, this place has both kinds – the ones you can’t get past and the ones where you can get your drink on.

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Computer Programmer Spent Two Years Creating Awe-Inspiring World Map Mosaic from 330,000 Tiny Glass Shards

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49-year-old Chris Chamberlain, an IT worker from London, England, spent the last two years of his life piecing together the “Jewel of the Universe”, a giant mosaic of Earth made with 330,000 hand-cut pieces of stained glass, each smaller than a fingernail. Now, he’s trying to sell his magnificent artwork for £250,000 ($380,000).

Chris Chamberlain has always had a thing for the arts, but he can’t paint or draw to save his life. But what he can do is cut glass into tiny little pieces, so he decided to use this skill to create his very own impressive work of art. The Jewel of the Universe project started over two years ago, in the artist’s garage. Using NASA photos of Earth, he set out to create a unique mosaic of our planet, from glass and precious stones. It took Chamberlain six months just to cut the glass into little pieces, and another 21 months to set them in just the right place on a 3.18m x 2.18m sheet of perspex, using a pair of tweezers. During this long painstaking process, the English computer programmer even had to train himself to become ambidextrous, in order to avoid repetitive strain injury. Practically every hour of his free time was spent on this incredible mosaic, and Chris admits his wife didn’t see very much of him during these last two years.

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Meet Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic

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Being blind doesn’t stop Tommy Edison from doing the things he really wants to do. Like working as a traffic reporter for a Connecticut radio station, taking photographs, or critiquing movies – things that normally require a reasonably good eye sight. He also runs a great website where he puts up his reviews and talks about being blind.

It’s confusing at first as to how a blind person could review movies – a very visual experience. But Tommy has managed to find a way to do that, and in a way that’s both engaging and entertaining. His approach is unique. He says, “I watch movies and pay attention to them in a different way that sighted people do. I’m not distracted by all the beautiful shots and attractive people. I watch a movie for the writing and acting.” And so he’s able to deliver a review that hits the nail right on the head. I watched his review of The Dark Knight Rises. It was short, crisp and to-the-point. Several comments on YouTube reveal that people watch his reviews first, to figure out what’s a good movie to watch. Sometimes Tommy jokes around, like when he reviewed Water for Elephants he said, “I didn’t think Robert Pattison was all that much to look at. I gotta be honest with you. I don’t know what all the kids see in him. Ha ha!” His rating system is unique too. For Scream 4, he said, “Sighted people, I think you will really enjoy this movie. Blind people stay at home. I’m going to give this 2 out of 4 eyes open.”

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