Doll Addict Collects $2 Million-Worth of Antique Dolls

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Kathy Libraty, an antique doll collector from Brooklyn, New York, has spent the last 25 years searching for antique dolls, and now has an impressive collection of over 1,000 items that’s worth around $2 million.

Believe it or not, Kathy’s fascination with dolls didn’t start when she was a little girl. In fact she remembers she was more of a tomboy and had no real interest in dolls or any girly stuff. Born in France, she and her parents immigrated to the US when she was only 4. After graduating from Brooklyn College with a BA in Art, her passion for photography took her to Europe and the Middle East, where she took a real interest in history and old art. When she and her husband, Frank, bought an old Victorian house, Kathy decided to pursue her love for antiques and started attending country auctions. She was intrigued that people sometimes paid large amounts of money for wigless doll heads, broken limbs and crooked-eye dolls, but not enough to start spending money on them, herself.

It wasn’t until one day, 25 years ago, that Kathy Libraty really became addicted to collecting antique dolls. She and Frank were driving around the neighborhood when they saw a man emptying boxes of antiques into a dumpster. She saw a doll’s leg sticking out and told Frank to stop the car. They went up to the man and asked him if he was going to throw all those things away, and he just replied “Yeah, it’s all dirty old junk”, so they offered to take it off his hands.  When they got home and looked through the “junk” they found a rare 24″ George Borgfeldt doll, several composition mama dolls, and a broken bisque Cuno and Otto Dressel Shoulder head doll. She often wondered what other treasures that man had thrown away in the dumpster that day, but the wonders she managed to get her hands on inspired her to go out into the world and discover her own priceless treasures.

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Entrepreneur Turns Atomic Reactor into Popular Amusement Park

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Wunderland Kalkar is a unique amusement park built on the site of a never-used power plant, complete with a fast breeder reactor, in Kalkar, Germany.

Construction of the Kalkar nuclear plant began in 1972, but was constantly  delayed due to technical difficulties and protests from those concerned about the safety of nuclear power. When it was completed, over 10 year later, authorities decided to pull the plug on the project, and the $4 billion complex was dismantled in  less than a decade. The fast breeder reactor remained in place, and in 1995 Dutch entrepreneur Hennie van der Most bought what was left of the Kalkar plant for a mere €2.5 million and managed to turn it into a profitable amusement park visited by over 600,000 people, every year.

Wunderland Kalkar has around 40 rides, for children and adults alike, and a 400-bed hotel. Among the most interesting features of the park are the swing ride set up inside the cooling facility, and the climbing wall on its outer walls. Also, chairoplanes, quad bikes, go-karts and a whole bunch of other fun gadgets make trips to Wunderland Kalkar a blast for the whole family.

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Designer Gives Dollar the Pop-Culture Treatment

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James Charles is not the first artist to use currency as inspiration for his original art, but his works are the geekiest I’ve seen in a while.

While some items of the “American Iconomics“series might have ou think that Charles simply manipulated the faces on genuine dollar bills, it’s just an illusion. The artist kept the original outline of the bills, but replaced the faces of former American presidents with those of famous pop icons like Jimi Hendrix, Master Yoda, Mr. Spock, Sarah Palin, and many others. In sone cases he simply drew over the faces of the presidents to give them a whole new look, but every one of his pop-culture dollars comes with a sarcastic and funny line of text.

The “American Iconomics” collection is currently on display at San Francisco’s Shooting Gallery, where pop-art fans can purchase their favorite artworks for anywhere between $600 and $1,000.

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Artist Uses Motherboards as Canvases for His Art

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We’ve seen motherboards used as an art medium before, but Arizona-based artist Joe Dragt took it one step further when he decided to uses the basic computer components as painting canvases.

Joe first got the idea of using motherboards as canvases for his art earlier this year, when his full-time job required him to take more than 30 old computers to be recycled. Looking at that huge stack of computers, the idea just hit him. He thought thought the complexity of the circuits could make motherboards really great backgrounds for his paintings, and during these troubled economic times, they were much cheaper than traditional canvases, too.

He asked if he could take one of the old computer home, to give his idea a go, and it just blossomed from there. He recycles 100% of the computers he uses, meticulously unscrewing every component. He uses the motherboards as canvases, the co0l-looking parts for his sculptures, and sends the rest of the plastic and metal bits to recycling facilities. All potentially harmful elements are taken to a special facility, in Phoenix.

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Crayola Crayons Used to Create Colorful Artworks

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Nashville-based artist, Herb Williams, makes incredible 3D sculptures from hundreds of thousands of colorful Crayola crayons.

37-year-old Herb first started working with Crayola crayons, after he was inspired by a dream. He had worked with various mediums, but his career wasn’t really going anywhere, he had no money and was alienating his friends due to frustration. He even got to the point where he thought “this is not worth it”, burned some of his works, but it was that very night that he has a powerful dream in which someone inspired him to use crayons in his art. He got up the next morning, wrote some ideas in his notebook, and he has been making a living out of it ever since.

Most people would have probably used the crayons as drawing tools, but not Herb. He painstakingly cuts ever crayon to size, using a double guillotine cigar cutter, before sticking them to a shaped mould, with industrial glue. He is the only person in the world who has a personal account with Crayole, because of the high number of crayons he buys from them every year. Each of his spectacular 3D sculptures numbers thousands, sometimes even hundreds of thousands of crayons, and he always has crates of 3,000 of each crayon color shaped to his workshop.

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Italian Artist Recycles Found Objects into Colorful Sculptures

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the work of Italian artist Dario Tironi is evident proof. While most people look at discarded objects and see only trash, he sees precious materials for his beautiful sculptures.

Old toys, discarded computer components, broken calculators, even plastic bottles, they’re all part of Tironi’s recycled universe. Similar to Robert Bradford, who uses old toys for his sculptures, and Leo Sewell,  the young Italian artist manages to glue together various junk items and create detailed sculptures of people and animals, and gives everyone who sees his art a whole new perspective on the concept of recycling.

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The Book Stack Sculptures of Kylie Stillman

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Although relatively new, book carving has become on of the most popular art forms of our time, with masterpieces of acclaimed artist like Brian Dettmer or Long Bin-Chen exhibited in galleries around the world. Kylie Stillman cuts new life into old, outdated books, by sculpting them as slabs of stone and turning them and giving them a second chance as veritable works of art.

Using a scalpel, Stillman cuts right into the stack of books, creating beautiful inverted reliefs of trees and the birds that once inhabited them. Her works remind us where the paper for the books came from, by turning the thousands of pages into versions of their original tree form.

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The Realistic Wire Sculptures of Shi Jindian

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They might look like computer-generated images, but Shi Jindian’s works are so real you can touch them. Using simple steel wire, the Chinese artist is able to create almost perfect replicas of anything from musical instruments to motorcycles.

For years, Shi Jindian looked for a material “that was brand new, completely untraditional” and when he worked with steel wire for the first time he knew he had found what he had been looking for. He created his own set of instruments, and by trial and error, he learned how to crochet the two-dimensional strands into three-dimensional models. His incredible-looking masterpieces start out as steel wrappings around the common objects he’s trying to replicate, and when the work is done, Jindian destroys or somehow extracts the object, leaving only the wire frame.

Looking at Shi Jindian’s wire sculptures it’s hard to understand how he gets every little detail just right, but I guess that’s what makes his art so unique and impressive.

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Man and Horse Compete in Wacky Marathon

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It might seem like horses have a clear physical advantage in a race, but hundreds of people show up to compete against them, every year, in the traditional Man vs. Horse Marathon.

The history of this wacky competition dates back to a night in November 1979, when Gordon Green, a pub owner from Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, was arguing with local Glyn Jones about the physical capabilities of men and horses. Green was absolutely sure a man could win over a single horse in a race over a long distance, while Jones argued the exact opposite. In the end, the two agreed a real race was the best way to decide their argument, so the very next year, 50 runners and 15 horses competed in a 22-miles-long race through the hills and marshes of the rural Welsh town. Glyn Jones, riding the fastest steed in Llanwrtyd Wells, won easily, but the race proved so popular that Green organized it again, the following year.

Cyclists were allowed to join the Man Versus Horse Marathon, between 1985 and 1992, and in 1989 a man (on a bicycle) crossed the finish line first. The Welsh government finally banned cyclists in 1992, arguing that bike wheels damaged forest paths and man were back to competing against horses, on their own two feet. Believe it or not, we actually managed to beat the horses, twice even. The first was in 2004, when Huw Lobb, a British marathon runner, came first, and the second was in 2007. There (kind of) was a third human success in 2009, when runner Martin Cox claimed victory, but judges decided to give the title to a horse named “Duke’s Touch of Fun”, after discontinuing the time in which the mare was checked by a vet, during the race. Cox threw away the trophy and vowed never to race again.

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Airigami – Artist Recreates Famous Icons Using Balloons

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If you thought the balloon animals some clowns make at kids’ birthday parties were impressive, wait till you see what Larry Moss can do. The Rochester-based artist creates Airigami, which translates as the fine art of folding air, and his fragile masterpieces are by far the most detailed balloon sculptures I have ever seen. Moss uses latex balloons to create all kinds of installations, from giant sculptures to wearable fashion items, and even intricate replicas of some of the world’s most famous icons.

Among his most impressive works are recreations of Boticelli’s Birth of Venus and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. If you like offbeat art, or if you simply want to see something cool today, by sure to check out Airigami.com, Larry Moss’ official site.

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Lily Allen Portrait Is Made of Real Lilies

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British singer Lily Allen is getting married this Saturday and London florist McQueens wanted to celebrate the event by creating a unique portrait of the artist, using actual lilies.

A team of six flower experts worked nine hours arranging the Asiatic lily blossoms into an Andy Warhol-style portrait of the acclaimed artist. The one-of-a-kind floral masterpiece measures six by ten feet and numbers a total of 1,800 lilies. Asiatic lilies were chosen because apparently they represent romance, femininity and purity. The lily portrait was a collaboration of English florist McQueens and The Flower Council of Holland, and will on display for a week, at one of McQueens’ London branches.

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China Inaugurates Park Made Entirely Out of Clay

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A unique cultural park made entirely out of clay has recently been open to the public, in Tangshan City, China.

Featuring rows of houses, busy streets filled with vendors and their carts, high ranking officials and horse-pulled carriages, the park is a reproduction of Zhang Zerui famous scroll painting Riverside Scene during the Qingming Festival. The man behind this unique project is a local from the city’s Fengrun District, named Qin Shiping. Tangshan has along standing tradition in ceramics, and Qin worked as a sculptor and painter ever since he was a young boy. In 2005, he got the idea to offer a unique view on China, and since he had always been a fan of Zhang Zherui’s painting, he decided to recreate the images depicted in the artwork with clay sculptures.

Qin Shiping put his idea into practice in 2008. He hired two clay sculpture experts with plenty of experience behind them, and 100 more regular clay workers who got started on the project. Three years later, the Tangshan clay sculpture park has finally been completed and opened to the general public. It’s 300 meters long and 60 meters wide and has been built at 2/3 life-size scale. The exact cost of the park hasn’t yet made public, but back in 2009, Qin Shiping stated he had already invested over 10 million yuan ($1,545,000).

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Rocky Fiore – The Spiderweb Artist

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Considered to be America’s no. 1 spiderweb artist, Emil Fiore, known as Rocky, collects various kinds of spiderwebs and uses them to create unique artworks which he sells on his website, Whirled Wide Webs.

Rocky, 58, says he read about how to catch spiderwebs when he was just a kid. The little Golden Guide suggested to spray the web with hairspray and dust it with talcum powder, and because he learned a spider’s web normally lasts only a few hours, this preservation concept stuck in his head for years. He always loved the outdoors, but he only got the idea of collecting spiderwebs in his early 20s. He was experimenting with stained glass and at one point decided to spray paint one of the webs in his vegetable garden and sandwich it between two pieces of glass. It worked, but after 10 years it began to fall apart, and he switched to using just one piece of glass and varnish.

Rocky Fiore usually collects his spiderwebs from the forests around his hometown, Dumont, New Jersey. He spray paints them silver on a dark piece of glass and sells them as artworks for up to $200 a pop. The pray caught in the spiderweb remains as part of the artwork as it adds to the story of the piece.

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La Bonnotte – The World’s Most Expensive Potatoes

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When you think about expensive food, potatoes aren’t exactly the first ingredients that come to mind, are they? Believe it or not La Bonnotte potatoes are one of the world’s most expensive foods, served only in the most luxurious restaurants.

The price of one kilogram of La Bonnotte potatoes can reach $700, making it the most expensive potato on Earth. Its ridiculous price doesn’t just have to do with its delicious salty flavor, but also with the fact that it’s very rare. This variety of potato is only cultivated on Noirmoutier, an island off the coast of western France, and just 100 tons are produced every year, mainly because they have to be picked by hand. La Bonnotte’s tuber remains attached to the stem making too fragile to harvest by machine, not to mention it also needs to be fertilized with algae and seaweed to give it that distinct earthy, salty flavor. Its fragile nature simply didn’t make it profitable enough for large agricultural companies, and it was only because of teh love and care of a few French potato lovers that it didn’t go extinct.

Also known as The King of Potatoes, La Bonnotte is planted in February and ready to be picked in the first week of May. The entire crop is usually exhausted by the first weekend of the month, because they retain all of their flavor if their picked and shipped to the restaurant the same day.

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Oksana Mas’ Breathtaking Wooden Egg Mosaics for the Venice Biennale

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Oksana Mas is a brilliant Ukrainian artist who uses thousands of hand-painted wooden eggs to create incredible mosaics that simply take your breath away.

The first time I read about Oksana Mas was in January of 2010, when she created this unique portrait of the Virgin Mary using 15,000 wooden eggs. It took her nine months to complete her masterpiece and you can admire it first hand inside the Saint Sophia Cathedral, in Kyiv. Apparently, the talented Ukrainian artist has been keeping herself busy since then, creating several other wooden Easter egg mosaics for the Venice Biennale, where she’s representing her country.

Her monumental installation is called ‘Post-vs-Proto-Renaissance’, features 12 separate pieces, measures a total of 92 by 134 meters and numbers an astonishing 3,640,000 wooden eggs hand-painted by people in 42 different countries. From inmates to intellectuals, thousands of people from all walks of life painted the eggs which were later assembled by Oksana, in her studio. The gigantic egg mosaics are currently on display inside the Church of San Fantin, in Venice, where they interact perfectly with the sacredness of the surroundings. When seen from up-close, every painted egg has its own unique design, but as the viewer backs away, they all come together to form a large scale representation of the Ghent Altarpiece, painted by the Van Eyck brothers.

Oksana Mas’ art was inspired by the old Ukrainian folk custom krashenki: wooden eggs covered in traditional Ukrainian designs used to celebrate Easter.

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