Man Spends 16 Years Building 6-Million-Matchstick Model

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Bulgarian artist Plamen Ignatov, has dedicated the last 16 years of his life to making a detailed matchstick model of the Rila Monastery, from around 6 million matchsticks.

Now, we’ve posted a lot of impressive matchstick creations, from the model of Minas Tirith built by Patrick Anton, to the matchstick fleet of David Reynolds, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a detailed model. Just hearing that the artist spent 16 years working on it, one can tell he was seriously passionate about assembling this matchstick masterpiece, and after laying eyes on it, you understand why it took him so long. The whole religious complex is incredibly detailed, with even the shingles realistically reproduced, and Ignatov even managed to fit a picture of Jesus into one of the walls, and painted religious figures on the wooden pavement of the monastery courtyard.

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The Mind-Blowing Wood-Carved Paintings of Kronid Gogolev

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Kronid Gogolev is a master wood-carver who creates incredibly detailed artworks inspired by the rural and provincial life of Russia’s northern regions.

For our artist of the day we chose to showcase Russian veteran wood-carver Kronid Gogolev, a man’s whose intricate wooden paintings are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Using simple tools, he is able to turn rough pieces of wood into masterpiece depicting the way of life and the traditions of the Russian northern village, capturing its original beauty. Each of his creations has its own unique features and characteristics, but they all manage to capture the attention of the viewer, transporting him to the real-life picturesque settings of the north.

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Girls Licking Doorknobs – More Madness from Japan

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It seems like Japan is in the news, more often than not, for bizarre activities. The latest that’s making waves on the internet is a Tumblr blog with pictures of girls licking doorknobs.

The work belongs to illustrator Ryuko Azuma, who says the idea started as many good ones do – with a drunken tweet. Famous for his sexy, edgy drawings, one night he tweeted that a collection of photos of a girl licking a doorknob would be a big hit. Azuma says he wouldn’t have done anything about it if the tweet had gone unnoticed. But as luck would have it, it didn’t. A 21-year-old photographer, Ai Ehara, replied to the tweet and that was how the ‘Doorknob Girl’ was launched. Ehara herself posed as the first Doorknob Girl, but when the site went viral, they began to hire several other models for the job. According to Ehara the idea was ‘extraordinarily unusual’.

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Would You Believe These Goldfish Are Actually Painted?

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Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori paints incredibly realistic three-dimensional goldfish embedded in layers of transparent resin. His artworks look more like photos of actual fish swimming peacefully in their little tanks.

Riusuke Fukahori’s work could best be described as a a combination between painting and sculpture. The talented artist creates his “living masterpieces”using a complex process involving layers of cast resin and acrylic paint. He patiently builds up his fish, layer by layer, adding transparent resin to create a realistic three-dimensional effect. Despite the tedious and complex nature of the artistic process, the end results are highly dynamic, capturing the animated life of the fish.

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The Focara of Novoli – A Truly Epic Bonfire

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Imagine a giant bonfire, 25 meters high, 20 meters in diameter, and viewed by over 60,000 people. This is exactly the spectacle that will meet your eyes if you happen to be in the town of Novoli, in south-eastern Italy, during this time of the year.

This ‘festival of fire’ is known as the Focara, held every year between the 7th and 18th of January. The actual Focara, or bonfire is lit on the 16th, when the festival reaches its crescendo. The tradition has its origins in the pre-Christian era, when it was celebrated to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Today, however, it is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony, who is the Patron Saint and protector of Novoli. The preparations for the Focara begin as early as mid December. On the 7th of January, the construction of the fuel assembled for the bonfire commences. It consists of bundles of vines that have been set aside by farmers after cutting back vineyards, once the grape harvesting is done the previous autumn. About 90,000 bundles are used, each one consisting of 200 vines. The construction of the structure is supported by wooden beams, and it is erected in Novoli’s Piazza Tito Schipa.

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Talented Italian Artist Paints with Wine

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Wine has been the inspiration of many famous painters throughout the centuries, but Florentine artist Elisabetta Rogai is taking the relationship between the drink of Dionysus and art to a whole new level, by using wine as paint.

Can a painting truly age? The concept was first explored English writer Oscar Wilde, in his book, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, and now, over a century later, it’s taking  a new meaning in the work of Elisabetta Rogai. The Italian painter uses only white and red wine, with no other chemical additives, to create beautiful paintings. This “allows the wine to reproduce on the canvas exactly the same process of ageing that normally takes place inside the bottle,” she explains, adding that “the wine aging, which normally occurs over the years, takes only a few months on the canvas.” The difference between a freshly painted artwork and a three-months-old one is clearly visible; the texture changes and the colors evolve from young purples and cherry reds to more mature tones of amber, orange and brown. Unlike the portrait of Dorian Gray, her works become more beautiful with time.

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Joe Black’s Amazing Badge Mosaics

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We’ve featured some pretty awesome mosaics here on Oddity Central, from Oksana Mas’ wooden egg mosaics, to the sweet jelly bean mosaics of Peter and Roger Rocha. But there are plenty of other incredibly talented artists out there who use the most unusual materials to create their art. Joe Black is one of them.

Using thousands of handmade badges depicting various images and icons, from the Vietnam War to Elvis Presley, Black manages to piece together amazingly detailed portraits. And if having the patience to create such wonderful mosaics wan’t impressive enough, nearly every one of the badges used is made by Joe Black himself, and relates to the artwork in some way. For example, the portrait of Superman is made up of corporate and fast food logos to depict the notion of goodness defeated by our ever-growing need to consume. A mixed media artist by definition, Black also makes use of oil paints, acrylics and other mediums to complete his modern masterpieces.

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Bamboo Drift Racing – A Combination of Speed and Balance

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I couldn’t stand still on a cane of bamboo even if it was on land. To think that there are people who can balance themselves on a bamboo pole floating in water! It’s probably the world’s thinnest boat.

Bamboo Drift Racing is actually a sport in Southwest China’s Guizhou province. Competitors stand on a bamboo pole and paddle using a thin stick of bamboo. Considered an exotic minority sport in China, the rules have changed over the years. In fact, although the tradition is to use bamboo, competitors now use a similar-looking strip made from green fiberglass. This offers better buoyancy and makes the boat more durable . The fiberglass sticks also help increase speed, and can be taken apart with ease later on. Still wondering how in the world it’s possible to row while standing on a stick? The trick, apparently, lies in the waist. All the balancing is done by controlling the bamboo using your waistline.

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China’s Magical City of Ice

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Ice sculptures are common in wedding parties and other occasions, but nothing you’ve seen before can compare to the ones displayed every year in the city of Harbin in China. While the place is cursed with terrible winters, the tough locals have managed to make the most of it.

A typical winter in Harbin, northern China, would see temperatures go as low as 2°F (that’s –19°C). Strong, cold winds blow in from Siberia, making almost everything freeze over. But the residents of the city keep themselves busy for several weeks during the winter season, hosting the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The sculptures made as a part of this festival aren’t anything like your typical faries and unicorns. Artists and engineers get together to build massive structures out of ice – a small town if you will, consisting of churches, pyramids, pagodas and palaces. The structures are filled with modern amenities like elevators and escalators. Multicolored lights are installed inside the sculptures, making them look very beautiful in the dark, after sunset.

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Amazing Packaging Tape Portraits by Max Zorn

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Ever been frustrated by sticky packing tape getting all over the place? I’ve been there. So when I learned about this artist who uses brown packing tape to create detailed works of art, I was seriously impressed.

Artist Max Zorn creates street art consisting mainly of portraits. His only tools are rolls of packing tape and a scalpel, but the results are astounding. The translucent portraits are hung over street lamps for the final effect, with multiple shades created through layers of tape strips. What is really impressive is that Zorn essentially works with just a single colored tape, creating several shades as he goes along. The sepia-toned art pieces have an incredible detailing, and are a delight to look at.

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Top 10 Most Unusual Christmas Trees of 2011

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Every December, we hear reports of bizarre Christmas trees in the making, and on display. We bring you a roundup of 10 of the most unusual trees that caught our attention in the Christmas season of 2011.

The Japanese Gold Tree

We’ve previously featured this tree made completely of pure Gold, here on OC. A creation of Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka, the tree is worth $2 million and unusual enough to make it to our top 10. It weighs 12 kg, is 2.4 m high, and is decorated with plates, ornaments and ribbons – all made of gold. Talk about a golden Christmas!

Creative Artist Makes Artworks with GPS Maps

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For Michael Wallace, the streets are his drawing board and maps, his canvas. For a paintbrush? He uses his bicycle! GPX Riding is what he calls his art. Confused? So was I, at first.

When I got a hang of what he’s been doing, I was simply amazed. He explains his artwork on his website in simple terms, “GPX Riding is my general term for using a GPS device to track and record my location while riding my bicycle. In short, I use GPS technology to record where I go in a planned effort to create massive images.” Massive images indeed, his gallery of artwork displays pictures of guns, hammers, snails, monsters, scorpions and more. Pretty basic stuff if you were drawing on paper, but very complex if you are tracing it out with your bike.

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Juhyou – The Beautiful Snow Monsters of Japan

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The words “beautiful” and “monster” don’t usually go well together, but when talking about a breathtaking natural wonder like the snow-and-ice-covered trees known as juhyou in Japan, we thought we’d make an exception.

Every year, during the cold winter months, snow monsters make their appearance on the snow covered slopes of Japan’s northern prefectures. But instead of running out of their way, tourists flock to these places to admire their natural beauty. Every one of these juhyou monsters is uniquely shaped by Mother Nature, who uses strong winds as her tools and thick layers of snow and ice as art mediums. Juhyou translates as “frost-covered trees” and is a popular phenomenon that takes place in many of Japan’s northern ski resorts.

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Chateau Guédelon – A 13th Century Castle in the Making

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It is sometimes unbelievable how beautiful architecture was created in ancient times, without the use of modern technology. A medieval construction project in Treigny, France, aims at understanding exactly how this was possible. Guédelon Castle is a project that is being completed with only the materials and techniques that were available to man in the Middle Ages. Of course, it’s going to take decades to complete.

The construction of Guédelon Castle started back in 1997. Michel Guyot, the owner of the nearby Saint-Fargeau castle, first got the idea of the project when he was restoring his own property. Over the years, the project has matured in terms of complexity, and has become a major tourist attraction. Today, it has created over 55 jobs and draws around 300,000 people every year. It also acts as an educational backdrop for school excursions. The design of the castle is based on the architectural canons laid down by the King of France,  Philip II Augustus, in the 12th and 13th centuries. The work done is mostly manual and slow, involving materials such as wood, earth, sand, stone and clay. The blueprint of the castle includes a moat and six towers. What’s even more fascinating is that the workers dress in the garb of medieval times.

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Ancient Documents Claim Jesus Lived to Be 106 and Died in Japan

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There have been bizarre claims before that Jesus Christ lived and died in India, with his tomb located in the state of Kashmir. In what can only be a testament to his omnipresence, another claim has been made to Christ’s whereabouts before his death, this time by the Japanese.

So the story goes like this – Christ visited Japan between the ages of 21 and 33. Of course, this is conveniently supported by the fact that the Bible skips over large periods of Christ’s early life. He spent this time studying the native language and culture, before returning to Jerusalem. What about the Crucifixion, you ask? Well, it wasn’t Christ that was crucified at all. According to this theory, it was his younger brother Isukiri, who took his place on the cross. In the meantime, Christ fled to Siberia. After a few years, he traveled via Alaska and arrived at the port of Hachinohe, 40km from the village of Shingo. He lived the rest of his life in the village, where he married, had three children and died at the age of 106.

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