The Beautiful Steampunk Cell Phones of Ivan Mavrovic

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Croatian artist Ivan Mavrovic turns modern technology into steampunk gadgets that still retain their functionality.

In a world where everyone seems interested only in getting their hands on the latest futuristic designs when it comes to gadgets, some, like Ivan Mavrovic, prefer to look back in history, to the time of the Victorian era, when brass, copper and wood were the main ingredients that made things cool. But interlacing modern tech with steampunk design isn’t easy, especially if you want to maintain functionality, but Croatian steampunk enthusiast Ivan Mavrovic does a fantastic job. Not only do his retro-cell phones look incredibly cool, but they also work as well as normal modern-day phones. They may not be as feature-full as today’s smartphones, but his sturdy converted Nokia phones work perfectly and make gorgeous accessories.

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Taichung’s Rainbow Village – The Hand-Painted Wonder of Taiwan

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It’s hard to believe that one man can change the fate of an entire village. Huang Yung-fu, an 86-year-old war veteran has done just this.

Huang lives in a village in a corner of the Taiwanese city of Taichung, a community that was created for Nationalist soldiers in the 1940s and 50s. Over the years, the place slowly changed into a permanent settlement, suffering from urban problems like abandonment, decay and housing dereliction. However, none of this is visible in the settlement today, thanks to the transformation brought about by Huang’s colorful paintings. The streets and the walls of practically every building in the village are covered with Huang’s simplistic paintings of plants, animals, TV personalities, birds and buffaloes. Considering the fact that he began painting only two years ago, his accomplishment is pretty huge. The bright colors and simple strokes used by Huang only add to the attractiveness of his work.

Photo by Steve Barringer

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Talented Artist Recreates van Gogh Paintings with Spices and Food Coloring

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Cincinnati-based photographer, Kelly McCollam recreates classic paintings, particularly Vincent van Gogh’s, using salts, spices and food coloring.

You could say Kelly McCollam is literally spicing things up in the art world, with her original interpretations of van Gogh’s masterpieces. While most people use pinches of seasoning to make their cooking tolerable, the skilled photographer uses handfuls to create artworks. Her favorite materials include salt, food coloring and various spices, from cloves and onion chips to mustard and lemon powder. After carefully spreading the spices on a board and arranging them to best replicate van Gogh’s works, she photographs them and simply wipes them off. It’s kind of painful, considering the effort and patience that must go into something like this, but Kelly is a photographer, and that’s what she’s really all about. The grainy and flaky textures of the artworks really improves the quality and effectiveness of her photos, which become masterpieces in their own right.

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Artist Makes Awesome Transformers Costumes from Household Goods

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We’ve posted some pretty cool Transformers statues and costumes here, on Oddity Central, but the Brooklyn RobotWorks costumes created by artist/cosplayer Peter Kokis are unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

When we look around the house, in our kitchens and bathrooms, most of us see a lot junk we don’t use very often, but Peter Kokis sees the perfect materials to build his über-awesome exoskeletons and thus bring our favorite Autobots to life. Looking at his creations for the first time, your jaw suddenly hits the floor as you stare in awe, but as Peter anticipates, looking a little closer you’ll eventually say “hey, I have those at home”. It’s hard to believe, but he’s somehow able to turn a common dog bowl into the perfect cannon muzzle and pooper-scoopers into realistic shins.

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Art Critics Go Bananas over Paintings Made by Monkey

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Pockets Warhol is a monkey who lives in a sanctuary near Uxbridge, Toronto. The monkey was named after American pop artist Andy Warhol, whom he resembles, with his wild white hair. But that’s not what he’s famous for. Pockets has a little art scene of his own going on. His paintings sell for as much as $300, and he even has a Facebook page.

The teenage monkey has been living in the sanctuary since his owner gave him up due to ill health. He was put in a rehab program that introduced him to non-toxic children’s paint, in order to keep him occupied. Volunteer Charmaine Quinn never realized that his work would one day become famous. She says that Pockets has the attention span of a 3-year-old, so it’s not always easy to get him to concentrate on a painting. But when he gets going, each piece sells for a minimum of $25. He loves working with bright colors, and the unique aspect of his work is that he doesn’t make use of a painting brush. Instead, he uses his bushy tail, furry butt, hands, feet and even tongue as tools. The paintings themselves are quite abstract, with colors splattered all over the canvas.

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Extinct Bird Sculptures Made from Leftover Bones

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Christy Rupp, an artist based in Chelsea, has created skeletons of extinct birds with the help of chicken bones that she collected over a period of time. Rupp describes herself as an ecological artist. She’s put up the sculptures for display at a museum called the “Extinct Birds Previously Consumed by Humans.” Her goal is to draw attention to the number of species we humans have driven to extinction.

“In our lifetime, more things have gone extinct than in all of the time before us,” she said. Rupp is a vegetarian, and collecting chicken bones wasn’t easy for her. She started by rummaging through garbage cans at parties and barbecues. She would literally wait for people to throw out food, and sometimes get kids to help her too. Sometimes, she would wait for her friends to finish their meal, asking for the carcass as soon as they were done. She even went as far as putting an ad in a local circulation, asking people to save bones for her.

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Japan’s Creepy Hotel for the Dead

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A hotel for the dead, now that’s something. This one is for real, actual corpses. And it’s pretty luxurious, going from the pictures. It’s a place where your folks check you in, and you wait it out until it’s time for you to be cremated. Also, it’s pretty luxurious.

The hotel Lastel run by Hisayoshi Teramura in Japan’s Yokohama suburbs, looks like any other building from the outside. In fact, young couples mistake it for a regular hotel and come asking for accommodation. But the place is not meant for lovers, or for weary travelers. Only for those who have already made their final exit from this world. The need for such a hotel very much exists in Japan, where there is a wait time of at least four days for a crematorium. With a total of 1.2 million deaths in the country in 2010, the annual death rate is at 0.95%, while the global average is only 0.84%. The Japanese also apparently tend to splurge on funerals, on the cost of flowers, coffins and memorial services. Mr. Teramura seems to have found a business opportunity in the area of death.

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Leila’s Hair Museum Is a Tribute to Victorian Hair Art

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Leila Cohoon of Independence, Missouri is a retired hairdresser. She now teaches hair weaving and runs her own cosmetology school. She is however, linked to hair in more ways than apparent. Leila collects hair art, and puts it all on display in her museum.

What is hair art, you ask? We wondered the same. Contrary to expectations, the museum does not display human hair in bunches, like the hair museum of Avanos, nor is the hair taken from the heads of the dead. Ask Leila, and she explains that hair art consists of intricate wreaths of hair set in frames to create beautiful designs. These frames were frequently used to decorate Victorian homes. Leila’s collection started in 1956, with wreaths and jewelry made from hair. Initially she stored her collection in her house, under the bed. Around 20 years ago, she decided to display them and started a one-room museum in her cosmetology school. She later rented out a commercial space and runs her museum there. The walls of Leila’s Hair Museum are completely covered from floor to ceiling, with hair art. Her collection includes over 300 wreaths and 2000 pieces of jewelry containing human hair.

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Students Take Up Boxing to Become Better Musicians

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 The students of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y., learn more than just music. In groups, they are asked to attend classes of a highly different nature. Classes that test and train them physically, and teach them the basic skills of boxing.

While it’s perfectly understandable that a musician may enjoy a little physical exercise, fitness is not a priority for these students. They have taken up boxing to improve their music skills. It all started when their professor, James VanDenmark, took up the sport himself. The world renowned double bass soloist says the classes had a remarkable difference upon his skills on the instrument. He reports better bow control, more confidence, stamina and energy. Intrigued, VanDenmark began to send a few of his female students to learn boxing, along with some conditioning and strength building. When they displayed the same results, he made this a regular feature with all his students. He now sends them in groups to Rochester gym ROC Boxing & Fitness to learn boxing basics and practice strength training. The students, he says, are now able to produce a bigger and more focused sound from the big instrument.

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Fake Pregnancy Bellies Become Top Sellers in China

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China is notorious for making cheap copies of almost every item in the world. And now, they seem to have moved on from man-made objects to replicating nature itself. The latest in the long list of fake Chinese items is a fake pregnancy belly. Put it on, and you can deceive anyone.

These artificial copies of pregnant women’s abdomens are made of silica gel, and are being sold on the internet. The silica gel makes them take on a very natural quality, close to human skin texture. Some online shop owners have said that the fake bellies are highly comfortable and have a flesh color. If you’re wondering what use anyone could possibly get out of fake pregnancy bellies, we have some answers for you. For now, the people who buy it are actors, purchasing them for performances. Others have bought it as a joke, and also to get an idea of how it feels to be pregnant. Apparently, the product is a hot seller online.

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Artist Uses Fire and Soot to Create Unique Masterpieces

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A true artist can create art out of literally anything, even ashes. Steven Spazuk, a Canadian artist, is doing just this. Through his unique technique of burning paper and drawing on the soot, he creates breathtaking monochromatic images.

He has perfected his art form over ten years of practice. Spazuk uses candles and torch flame to partially burn thick pieces of paper. He then makes use of various tools to draw directly on the soot. A collection of burnt paper are gathered together to create the entire drawing. Spazuk says that he often works piece by piece, collecting a multitude of unique elements that he assembles into mosaics. “Entities that, once grouped together, afford a different meaning and provide a new perspective that is both novel and complementary,” he says. He mostly creates images of human faces or bodies, which contain a soulful element.

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Students Claim Haunted Toilet is Causing Them to Faint and Scream

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Kids love exchanging horror stories at school, even if it means weeks of sleepless nights. But what if a real ghost decides to make a guest appearance? It could cause kids to lose not just sleep but even their sanity. In Vietnam, it’s causing them to faint on a regular basis.

The students of Son Hoa Ethnic Boarding High School in the Son Hoa District claim to have had supernatural visitors in the bathroom at night, causing many of them lose consciousness. It all started with K Pa Ho Luon, a student of the school. He returned to his dorm one night  in November, from the toilet area, in a state of hysteria. He was talking gibberish, fell to the floor and began to scratch the walls and the floor. All this, just before he passed out. Luon was then rushed to the hospital by school authorities. When he recovered, he claimed to have met a ghost in the toilet.

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Yukigassen – Competitive Snowball Fighting from Japan

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If you grew up in a place where it snowed, you probably would have mastered the art of throwing snowballs. Bet no one thought much of your talent back then. Too bad you never heard of Yukigassen, a snowball fighting competition that is held in Japan every year, and now in other parts of the world as well.

Yukigassen, literally meaning “snow battle”, originated around 20 years ago as a marketing scheme. The Mount Showa-Shinzan resort wanted to attract more tourists in the winter, so they devised this game, which certainly sounds like it could be a lot of fun. It is being described as a combination of chess, paintball and backyard brawling. The objective of the game is pretty simple. Players of the opposing team need to be knocked out with snowballs. But of course, there are more technicalities involved. For instance, the field on which Yukigassen is played is a 44 X 12 yard rectangle divided by red and blue lines, similar to the layout of a hockey rink. Three periods, three minutes in duration each, constitute the match. The team that wins two out of three is ultimately the winner of the match. A period could either be won by having more standing players than the team at the opposite end, or by capturing the other team’s flag without getting hit by their snowballs.

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Convicts Prove Knitting is Hardcore

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The male convicts at the Pre-release Unit in Jessup, Maryland, have a unique story to tell. A story of how they found peace and calm through an unusual activity – knitting. Unusual, because it hardly seems normal to picture a bunch of rough-looking guys sporting tattoos and several teeth missing, sitting quietly, occupied with knitting needles and a bunch of wool.

And yet, it’s true, thanks to the efforts of Lynn Zwerling, the founder of Knitting Behind Bars. 67 year-old Zwerling retired from her job of selling cars in 2005, and then turned her attention to knitting, which was her passion. Initially, she started off with a small knitting group of women in her town. The group grew quickly to around 500 members. According to Zwerling, she observed something Zen-like when she saw women who did not have anything in common sitting quietly beside each other, absorbed in their knitting. She then had the idea to take knitting to prisons, more importantly, male prisoners.

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The Iconic Goat Tower of Fairview

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The Fairview Wine and Cheese farm in South Africa is famous for more than just its wine and cheese. Owned and run by Charles Back, it houses a unique monument built for the comfort and use of the farm’s goats – The Goat Tower. Acknowledging the fact that goats love to climb, sometimes even up on livestock, to get a better view, Back first got the idea of the tower some thirty years ago.

The tower, a first of its kind, is built of brick and mortar, and consists of a steep metal roof. It also has a spiral staircase made of wood, and windows too. The goats in Fairview farm have the privilege of climbing the two-story tower at will, resting within it. Since 1981, the tower has become a symbol of the winery, so much so that they produce a wine called “Goats do Roam”. The goat tower is by far, the first known to be built with such a purpose in mind. However, according to Back, the tower was inspired by a similar one his parents had seen during a vacation in Portugal. As a result of that trip the farms first goats were purchased, and the tower built.

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