Wayne Kusy and His Impressive Toothpick Fleet

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Chicago-based artist Wayne Kusy uses thousands of ordinary toothpicks and gallons of glue to create impressive-looking models of famous sea vessels.

50-year-old Kusy remembers he built his first toothpick model when he was just a child in the fifth grade. It was an Indian tepee and it got him a B+ in class, but toothpicks were to play a much bigger part in his life. He moved on to build a house out pf toothpicks, then a year later he started working on a ship that didn’t come out perfectly, but wasn’t far off the mark either, so he decided to build another one. And, before he knew it, he was pretty much obsessed with toothpicks.

Wayne Kusy’s amazing toothpick fleet began to take shape when he bought a plastic Revell model of the Titanic, studied the blueprints and deck plans, and spent the next three years recreating it with 75,000 flat and square toothpicks. It was impressive to look at, but it was so big that his small Chicago apartment could barely accommodate it, and there was no way to move it out without hitting the corners of his home and damaging the ship. The Titanic lost a lot of toothpicks on its maiden voyage out of Wayne’s apartment, but it taught the artist a valuable lesson – from there on he designed his ships so they could be reassembled from multiple segments.

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The Crocheted Portraits of Jo Hamilton

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Portland-based artist Jo Hamilton has a house full of balls of yarn,which she uses to create amazing crocheted portraits and landscapes.

Jo remembers she was only six when her grandmother taught her to to crochet, but it wasn’t until ten years later that she really dedicated herself to the old craft and started crocheting in a crafty way. She attended the Glasgow School of Art, where she experimented with both painting and drawing, but she felt that she needed an original medium to help her express her talent.

She was inspired to use crocheting as an art form after seeing an exhibition at the Portland Craft Museum that inspired artists to use techniques that are originally considered to be art. Happy that she had finally found a means of expression that she was comfortable with, Jo immediately started crocheting a cityscape made of six blocks, named “I Crochet Portland”. She now spends anywhere from forty five hours on a portrait, up to three years on one of her cityscapes, but the most important thing  is she never gets bored of crocheting.

The portraits Jo creates are incredibly detailed, and many people have speculated about the techniques and stitches she uses, but the artist claims her pieces come alive from the inside – it’s an organic process that implies no graphs, plans or charts. Of course, this means she doesn’t know the exact outcome of her effort, but Ms. Hamilton says she has learned to trust her way of working.

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Aokigahara Forest – The Suicide Woods of Mount Fuji

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Referred to as “the perfect place to die” in Wataru Tsurumui’s bestselling book – The Complete Manual of Suicide – Aokigahara is a thick, dark forest located at the base of Mount Fuji, famous as a popular suicide spot.

No one knows exactly how many bodies go undiscovered among the trees of Aokigahara forest, but the ones uncovered so far have already earned this place an eerie reputation. In 2002 alone, 78 bodies were located in Aokigahara, and by 2006, another 16 suicides were reported. Some of the victims even carried copies of Tsurumui’s book with them, which makes this even creepier. The whole place is dotted with signs that read “please reconsider!” or “please consult the police before you decide to die!” but these have little power on those determined to die here.

“We’ve got everything here that points to us being a death spot. Perhaps we should just promote ourselves as ‘Suicide City’ and encourage people to come here,” says the mayor of Aokigahara exasperated by the high number of suicides registered in the area. Locals claim they can always tell who is going into the forest to admire its natural beauty, and who isn’t planning on ever coming back. They say part of the reason people decide to commit suicide in Aokigahara forest is because they want to die at the foot of the sacred Mt. Fuji and because it’s so dense and thick that sounds from just a few kilometers inside can’t be heard outside the woods.

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Pixelated Self-Portrait Is Made from Over 10,000 Nails and Screws

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Inspired by the work of mosaic art masters like Saimir Strati, artist Shannon Larratt has created a unique self-portrait from thousands of different nails and screws.

Shannon used a four foot sheet of heavy 3/4″ plywood as canvas and six different kinds of nails and screws space roughly 5/16″ apart. He estimates there are around 20,000 pixels in his project, and over 10,000 nails. The whole thing weighs around two hundred pounds, and the artist plans to hoist it up from an I-beam, in his studio.

The first thing Shannon did was take a photo of himself, which he then manipulated in Photoshop, so the colors would match the general range of the nails, and then converted it into an indexed color image using a custom palette that matched his nail set. He stacked up all these conversions as layers, and then started the manual labour, occasionally changing or shifting the nails slightly, to improve translation.

The result of his work is just incredible, although the artist says he has learned a lot from this project and he will do a lot better next time. But, because the process of creating one of these pixelated portraits is so time-consuming, Larrat doesn’t know exactly when he will start work on another one.

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Artist Builds One-of-a-Kind Imperfect Boats from Discarded Materials

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John Taylor is a self-taught artists who uses scrap wood, computer parts, hockey sticks and various other discarded materials to create unique replicas of famous sea vessels.

John has been fascinated with ships ever since he saw a photo of his great-grandfather standing on the deck of a vessel, during the Spanish-American War. He was only a child, but the obsession stuck with him throughout the years, and, as an adult, he began creating these unique models of ships he saw in old photos. Working from his garage in San Juan Capistrano, he turns buckets of junk (computers chips, nails, copper wire, lawn chairs, drift wood, staples and more) into imperfect interpretations of old sea vessels.

A landscape architect by trade, John Taylor will use any materials he can find that will give him the old, tattered results he aims for. “If it’s an exact replica, there’s no room for you to really wonder about it,” he says, trying to explain why he creates models that look like they’ve been fished from the bottom of the ocean, instead of making perfect replicas of the ships that inspire him.

The 3 to 5 feet long models are based on real boats, from Civil War river boats to World War II battle ships, John finds in old photographs.They are an authentic rendition of memory, rather than accurate historical replicas.

 

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Andrew Myers – An Artist Who Literally Screws His Artworks

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Laguna Beach based Andrew Myers is the only artist in the world who uses screws as the main medium to create three-dimensional artworks. Simply put – he screws art.

The young artist didn’t always work with screws, the idea just came to him one day, while working on a church’s bronze relief depicting the life of Saint Catherine. And, like most artists, once he got it into his head to work with a certain medium, he just had to find out if he could actually make it happen. It sounds like a screwy concept, but it turned out to be brilliant.

Unlike other artists who create similar art, Myers doesn’t rely on a computer to pixelate his works, he just makes a grid and drills in screws at certain key points (like the tip of the nose) to establish the depth of the artwork. “For me, I consider this a traditional sculpture and all my screws are at different depths. There’s nothing planned out. I draw out a figure on the board and figure out the depths,” the artist says. The screw holes have to be drilled beforehand, to make sure the screws go in straight, and the background of the portrait is made up of phone book pages, usually with listings from the area of the subject.

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Incredible Key Art ay the Coolest Locksmith Shop in New York

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Greenwich Locksmiths, one of the oldest locksmith shops in New York City, stands out with its unusual facade art made of thousands of used keys.

The incredible facade was designed and executed by Phil Mortillaro, owner of Greenwich Locksmith and an expert when it comes to cracking safes. He opened up shop in the West Village back in 1968, and as his shop became famous, he once considered redesigning his common-looking headquarters to look like an impressive classic American building. He got all the approvals he needed, but decided not to go through with the idea, for fear his locksmith shop would have looked more like a Disney World attraction. Instead, he decided to make his workplace unique by decorating it with discarded keys.

Seen from a distance, the patterns on the Greenwich Locksmiths facade look like a bunch of spirals and squiggles, but as soon as you get a little closer and notice the whole thing is covered with tens of thousands of keys, you realize just how impressive it really is. Mr. Mortlillaro created this unique work of art by himself, last October, and his shop – reputed as one of the best in the business – is getting a lot more attention.

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The Mind Blowing Pull Tab Sculptures of Herman Divers

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Herman Divers, also known as the master of pull-tab engineering, is known for creating impressive sculptures exclusively out of aluminum pull tabs.

Environmentalists have always preached about the need to recycle metals like aluminum, and Topeka based Herman Divers is one of the few people who listened and decided to do something about it. Using old-fashioned pull tabs that were found on beer and soda cans in the 1970s, he created impressive artworks that are now on display at the Grassroot Art Center, in Kansas.

A retired hospital handyman, Divers developed a unique affinity for pull tabs in the early 1980s, when he asked the hospital’s  snack bar attendant to save them for him. “I told her I was going to make a beadspread and she thought I was crazy” Divers remembers about his early days as a pull-tab artist. But he was on to something, because unlike the modern pull tab, the old-fashioned one had a extension that could be wrapped/bent to secure it to another one. Using this process and without any glue or steel reinforcement, Herman Divers spent many of his nights working on some of the most incredible pull-tab artworks I have ever seen.

His unique collection of pull-tab sculptures include replicas of a Harley Davidson motorcycle (made from 179, 200 pull-tabs) and a classic automobile, a set of costumes for him and his wife, as well as pieces of pull-tab furniture. When old pull-tabs became obsolete, Divers started working with bottle caps and buttons creating more beautiful creations, but his aluminum wonders remained his signature works.

And to think it all began with his simple credo “I just figure you can’t get into too much trouble when you’re working”.

 

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Artist Makes Imperial Walker Sculpture from Recycled Computer Parts

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Etsy artist TGNSmith has created a realistic replica of the iconic Imperial Walker out of various recycled computer parts and other scrap metal pieces.

The main body of the Star Wars AT-AT is made of power supply boxes from old computers, its head is made of floppy disk shelves, and the legs and feet from other scrap metal components. The one-foot-high and over one-foot-long sculpture was covered with two coats of galvanizing primer, followed by a coat of gray paint and finished off with two layers of protective gloss. The walker was also “attacked” with a welding arc that gave it those nice battle scars.

Weighing about 15 pounds, this miniature Imperial Walker has some sharp edges and corners and should not be used as a plaything for children. Star Wars fanboys can take it off TGNSmith‘s hands for only $450.

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The 7 Most Delicious Life-Size Car Models You’ve Ever Seen

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Throughout the years I’ve been writing on Oddity Central, I’ve seen some pretty amazing car models built out of the most unusual materials, and edible cars have definitely been among the most impressive. I’ve featured some of them on this blog, and today I thought I’d make a list of the coolest life-size cars made of things you love to eat.

Chococar

This tasty looking thing was created exclusively out of chocolate, and was exhibited in SIngapore’s Royal Plaza on Scotts, back in 2008. The 4.7 meters-long, 2 meters-wide Formula 1 car weighed around 90 kilograms and was made with white, dark and milk chocolate. The design alone took 44 days to complete, and a team of eight chocolatiers worked 7 days and nights on it.

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The Upcycled Robotic Wonders of Ann P. Smith

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Ann P. Smith is a famous American artist who uses broken electronics and machine parts to create unique robotic sculptures.

A resident of Providence, Rhode Island, Ann P. Smith graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she first got the inspiration for her unique art. She had received an assignment to create a three-dimensional technology illustration , but she was completely stumped until she saw a heap of junk with a telephone on top, which she used to create a horse sculpture. This won her great reviews and kickstarted her career as an upcycling artist.

The mechanical menagerie Ann created throughout the years contains a wide range of intricate creatures – goats, birds, jellyfish, lizards, etc – all made from computer components, discarded cell phones and various other salvaged scraps. Each creation has a unique personality reflected by the carefully chosen materials it’s made of, and is labeled by a line of keyboard keys.

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Desiree Palmen – The Real Life Invisible Woman

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You’ve probably already seen photos of Liu Bolin – the real life invisible man, now it’s time you met Desiree Palmen, the invisible woman.

Just like the famous Chinese artist we’ve featured before, Desiree Palmen is a master of the camouflage who manages to perfectly blend into the background. She first takes photos of the scene she wants to blend into, and then spends hour in her Rotterdam studio painstakingly painting cotton suites to best simulate the scenery. Then she or another person puts on the suit and poses in the selected place. Although her patience and painting skill are amazing, Desiree remains modest and says it’s never perfect, but she likes people can actually see it’s a person in a suit and not a digitally altered image.

The 46-year-old artist says her work was inspired by the increasing use of “Big Brother” surveillance in everyday life and man’s wish to simply disappear. Ms. Palmen also says people react differently when seeing her artworks, some are confused others are surprised, but they all seem very interested in the idea.

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It’s Simply Amazing What a Man Can Do with a Single Toothpick

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San Francisco-based artist Steven J. Backman uses simple toothpicks to create the most incredible artworks.

Steven’s fascination for toothpick art can be traced back to his elementary school days, when he used toothpicks and beans to create a project of DNA molecules. Unfortunately, after accidentally getting a toothpick stuck in his palm, he had to quit his favorite hobby. But, even though he didn’t practice it anymore, his passion for building toothpick models stuck with him all the way through university, when he started to give it another shot. In 1984, he decided to build a replica of a San Francisco cable cart, from toothpicks and glue, as a way to show his appreciation the iconic landmarks. Soon after, he established his toothpick art company, “Landmarks of San Francisco”, which he still operates today.

Throughout the years, Steven J. Backman has created some truly impressive toothpick sculptures and replicas, from a 10,000 toothpick electric powered radio-controlled yacht and a 30,000 toothpick replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, acquired by Ripley’s Believe or Not. I promise to cover all of his incredible artworks in the future, but I thought his one toothpick wonders deserved a full post of their own.

I’ve stared at his miniature masterpieces for a while now and I still can’t wrap my head around how he managed to reproduce all these famous landmarks in such fine detail, using a single toothpick, some glue and tweezers. His mini models are under two inches long and take anywhere from a a few hours to a few months to complete, and some of them currently hold the Guinness Record for the world’s smallest replica. One thing is for sure, Steven’s favorite motto – “The Essence of Patience” – best describes the time and effort that goes into his work.

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Carpenter Builds the Most Amazing Birdhouses You’ve Ever Seen

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John Looser, a skillful carpenter from Toronto, Canada, builds regular wood mansions for birds.

The 46-year-old carpenter used to work on human houses, but he had to retire after 20 years, due to to a serious car accident that left him with a terrible condition – fibromyalgia. The pain associated with it has no boundaries and most people describe it as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, stabbing and intense burning. The stiffness and pain are worst in the morning and in muscle groups that are used repetitively. Although he had to retire as a house builder for humans, John Looser kept working in residential construction, only his new clients were birds.

“Building birdhouses helps keep my mind busy so that I don’t notice my pain so much,” says John. “As long as I can stay busy, I don’t feel like my muscles are going to seize up and stop moving.” says John, who also suffers from sleeplessness, getting up at 6 am and  working for 8 – 10 hours a day. The small size of his beautiful birdhouses, in comparison with human buildings, allows him to exercise his passion for building houses.

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The Decaying House Models of Daniele Del Nero

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Italian artist Daniele Del Nero uses scale paper models of houses and mold to create a series of grotesque yet fascinating buildings that look like they’ve been abandoned for centuries.

In reality, it only takes Del Nero a few weeks to achieve this repulsive yet intriguing effect. With a background in building engineering and architecture, he creates realistic models out of black paper, which he then dampens and covers with a thin dusting of flour. The models are then placed in a transparent plexiglass case, where the mould takes over. Within two days it starts to grow on the building’s walls and after just two weeks it dies and leaves behind what the artist calls “a dusty spider-web which covers the model like a rambler plant”.

Del Nero avoids direct contact with the mould, removing the glass cover only to take photos of his artworks, and he even used to throw the models away after shooting them, but his vision has changed and he now believes “the models are part of my work as well as my photographs.”

Daniele Del Nero says the idea for his grotesque collection, entitled “After Effects”, was inspired by man’s perception of urban spaces – “We are used to imagining our cities as permanent and definitive, but it’s amazing how little time it takes for nature to reclaim its spaces”.

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