The Suzdal Cucumber Festival

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Cucumbers may be just every day vegetables to you, but in the Russian town of Suzdal they are of such importance that they have their own yearly festival.

The first cucumbers were cultivated in the Suzdal area, around 500 years ago, and some locals even consider the popular vegetable inherently Russian. The people here consider cucumbers the most nutritious vegetable in the world, and they use them in thousands of different dishes, from cucumber soups, to cucumber cakes and rolls, and even cucumber drinks. This being of the biggest cucumber producing centers of Russia, you’ll have a hard time finding a household that doesn’t make a living growing cucumbers.

The Suzdal Cucumber Festival takes place every year, in the month of July, during the vegetable harvest. During this event tourists will learn everything there is to know about cucumbers, from hot to grow them to the many different varieties. The region’s most famous entertainers perform different plays relating to cucumbers, and tourists can try the various cucumber delicacies of Suzdal, as well as buy cucumber souvenirs made of clay, wood and other materials.

One of the most important events of the Suzdal Cucumber Festival is the cucumber eating contest, where competitors try to beat the competition by eating as many cucumbers in the set time limit. Judging by the whole atmosphere of the festival, the winner probably receives some cucumbers as the prize.

This year, the Suzdal Cucumber Festival took place on July 24.

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Toastman and His Crunchy Toast Art

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New-Zealander Maurice Bennet, also known  as “Toastman”, creates incredible portraits and abstract works of art using toast.

Born in Paeroa, in the late 1950s, Maurice Bennett has always been fascinated by the art world, and as a young man, he traveled the world visiting museums and art galleries learning more and more about traditional and offbeat art. Upon his return to New-Zealand, the starving artist had to find a job, rather than focus on his art career, so he began weighing potatoes at a local market. Before he knew it, he and his wife were owning their own supermarket, and he was able to express himself through art.

Maurice’s first artistic experiences had him painting and sculpting, but it wasn’t until he discovered toast as an art medium, that he became a truly fulfilled artist. Throughout the years he created portraits of famous figures such as New Zealand prime minister John Key, rugby legend Jonah Lomu, the Mona Lisa, Elvis Presley , all of which earned him the praise of art critics.

Some of his more recent creations include a portrait of American president Barrack Obama, and some abstract works inspired by Maori carvings and Pacific patterns. he even made a portrait of rap star Eminem out thousands of M&Ms.

After selling his successful business, in late 2009, Toastman Maurice Bennett is now free to dedicate himself to his family, and his offbeat art.

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The Junk Portraits of Vik Muniz

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Using domestic and industrial junk, Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is able to recreate anything, from photographs to famous paintings.

Just because the artworks of Vik Muniz is made of junk, doesn’t mean it stinks. he’s actually been living in New York for the last 27 years, and is now recognized as one of the most original artists in the Big Apple. Over the years he has worked with various mediums, from chocolate syrup to caviar and even diamonds, but it seems garbage has become his favorite.

The “Junk Portraits” series of Vik Muniz features reproductions of classic paintings like Saturn devouring one of his children, by Goya, Mars, God of War, by Velasquez, or Sisyphus, by Titian. They have all been recreated from various junk items, on a giant warehouse floor and photographed from an elevated position, to make individual objects hard to distinguish.

Although the actual recreation of his junk portraits from garbage, might seem like the most important part of his job, his work isn’t completed until he takes photos of them.

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Star Wars Yoga – Because Geeks Need Exercise Too

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Star Wars and Yoga don’t have that much in common , unless maybe the mysticism that surrounds both the Jedi arts and the ancient meditative discipline, but that didn’t stop a fanboy from combining them in an awesome set of Star wars inspired Yoga positions.

While contemplating names of various Yoga poses, young Matthew Latkiewicz, a big Star Wars fan from the UK, decided to come up with some ingenious poses of his own, inspired by his favorite sci-fi franchise. Before long he came up with some geeky Star Wars Yoga poses that he then sent to Wired UK magazine, who actually published them.

His awesome Star Wars Yoga poses draw inspiration from the original Star Wars trilogy, but Matthew is considering developing  a new series of poses based on the more recent prequels. He says it would be known as ‘The Disappointed Fanboy’. Very inspired name, I must say.

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The Recycled Art of Guerra de la Paz

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Guerra de la Paz is the name of an artistic duet, made up of Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, two Cuban artists who live and work in Miami, Florida.

Since the favorite art medium of Guerra and de la Paz is clothing, the two find procure their material from waste bins and second hand shipping companies in Miami’s Little Haiti. Guerra de la Paz views its efforts of looking for discarded clothing as a form of archaeology. Each item is a relic that defines an individual’s personality, and together with other recycled clothes allows the artist to reinvent classic icons and historic themes, and send a message about the need for recycling, at the same time.

The works of Guerra de la Paz have been exhibited in galleries across America and Europe and have received positive reviews, ever since the project was born, in 1996.

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The Twisted Porcelain Dolls of Jessica Harrison

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I’ve featured some bizarre dolls before, but Jessica Harrison’s creations are damn right twisted. I luv’em!

These ghastly ceramic figures look like something you’d expect to find on the dinning room table of a serial killer, but they’re actually the work of a talented artist with a taste for the bizarre. Sure, a young lady holding her own guts probably isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect porcelain doll, but I definitely appreciate this kind of art. Be sure to check out Jessica’s website, for more of her work over the years.

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Cat Prin – The Japanese Tailor for Cats

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If you’re one of those pet owners who love think their pets actually need fashionable clothes to look even cuter, Cat Prin is the tailor you’ve been looking for.

Cat Prin is a real cat tailor who believes cats look even more adorable when they’re dressed in funny costumes. His models are indeed some of the cutest cats I’ve ever seen, but the weirdest thing about his Cat Prin is the English translation of his website:

1. You need to dress a cat.

2. If a family and a cat become fortunate, you will take a commemorative photo!

3. If it finishes taking a photograph, you will make it remove clothes from a cat immediately. You will say then, without forgetting the language of gratitude to a cat.

Apparently he’s trying to say his clothes are mainly intended for taking photos, and should be taken off shortly after, but that’s pretty tough to say in English, when you’re using Google Translate.

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Star Wars Fan Builds Working Millennium Falcon Guitar

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Using an electric guitar and a vintage Millennium Falcon toy, Travis S. managed to build a unique instrument shaped like Han Solo’s starship.

Having built guitars with his father, in high-school, this was a relatively easy task for Travis S., but the idea of building something that has never been done before appealed to him. An avid Star Wars fan, with a sizable collection of memorabilia, he decided to combine his love for the sci-fi franchise with his passion for guitars. It only took him a month, working on weekends, to complete the guitar, but he says he could have completed in under a week.

Since this is an electric guitar, using a plastic toy as the body doesn’t affect the way it sounds, but the artist had to add a maple block from the start to the end of the ship, to keep it from breaking under the tension of the strings.  The back of the Millennium Falcon guitar has been fitted with blue LED lights, powered by their own batteries.

Despite its futuristic look, the guitar was designed to play, and I can only imagine the reaction of the public when someone brings this baby on stage. If you think this is cool, just wait until you here what Travis S has planned next : a Lord of the Rings themed bass guitar. I can’t wait!

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Artist Creates Wearable Dress Out of 1,000 Newspapers

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Complete with a nice neckline and long peacock train, the newspaper dress of designer Yuliya Kyrpo is definitely one of a kind.

Being a guy and all, I’m not very big on dresses, but I did feature quite a lot of them on OC. We’ve had the cake dress, the coffee-filter dress, the LED dress, and eve a dress made from human hair, but never one made of 1,000 old news papers.

Yuliya Kyrpo wrapped every one of the old Metro newspapers into cranes, by herself, and positioned them to create this amazing piece of art. What’s even more interesting is the way she managed to arrange the different texts and images to make her dress actually nice to look at.

The newspaper dress of Yulia Kyrpo is now on display at the London Museum of Art.

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Christiania – Denmark’s Ultimate Freetown

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The Freetown of Christiania is a self-governing neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city, where the people actually live freely.

Chritiania was created in 1971, and consists of the old Bådsmandsstræde Barracks and parts of the city ramparts. After the barracks were abandoned by the military, the area was simply taken over by the locals in the surrounding neighborhoods, as a playground for their children. This was actually a protest against the Danish government of that time, started by the article of one Jacob Ludvigsen.

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The Paper World of Jeff Nishinaka

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Los Angeles based Jeff Nishinaka is one of the world’s best paper manipulating artists. He creates amazing 3D paper sculptures, by handling paper in the least invasive way.

Although you could swear Jeff Nishinaka has been creating paper sculptures since the day he was born, he didn’t discover his passion for this art form until he attended the Art Center College. He was determined to become a painter, when he was given assignments in both graphic design and fashion drawing to experiment with different art mediums. He had what he likes to cal an “ah-ha!” moment when he discovered paper, and has remained faithful ever since.

He began working with different types of paper, learning how to shape, bend and twist them onto various shapes that ultimately became amazing artworks. Because he treats paper like a living, breathing thing, Jeff Nishinaka manipulates paper in the least invasive way, trying to maintain its integrity. This makes his works special, and easy on the eyes.

Jackie Chan, a close friend of Jeff Nishinaka, owns the biggest collection of the artist’s paper masterpieces.

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Horsetail Fall – The Awesome Firefall of Yosemite Park

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Waterfalls are awesome, but the Firefall of Yosemite Park is definitely something you don’t see every day, literally.

Horsetail Fall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the North American continent, but it’s only truly special for two weeks a year. The first firefalls of Yosemite Park were man made. Large fires were started atop Glacier Point and the red-hot embers were pushed down the granite wall, in the evening. It was a nice show of fireworks, until the fire hazard of the 1960s, when the dangerous practice stopped.

But that didn’t mean Yosemite was left without a firefall, if anything, people got to discover a much more beautiful one. When the natural conditions are just right, tourists can enjoy a unique spectacle where water turns into burning fire. During the last two weeks of February, when the sun shines above Yosemite Valley, and water pours down the granite wall, the firefall phenomenon takes place. But because clouds and storms are common during the winter months, and sometimes California has dry years, Horsetail Firefall can only be witnessed rarely, and timing is of the essence.

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Man Decorates His Entire Basement Using a Sharpie and a Marker

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53-year-old Says Kratzer managed to turn his boring cream-painted basement into an inhabitable masterpiece, by using his trusty sharpie and a magic marker.

Mister Kratzer has always been fascinated by Impressionist art, and by the time he reached 30, he knew he wanted his house to be decorated with it. Since he couldn’t afford to buy all the art pieces he began creating them himself. He began painting, and now his works hang all over the house. So when he decided to redecorate the basement, it’s not very hard to guess what style he used as inspiration.

A lawyer by day, Mr. Kratzer spent whatever free time he had, decorating the walls of his basement with the heroes that fascinated him throughout his entire life. And he did it all with just $12 worth of sharpie and a magic marker. You’ll find famous detectives Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes lounging with George Bernard Shaw, the Marx Brothers peering around the corner, cartoon stars Rocky and Bullwinkle, and a top garbage can painted into R2D2.

Other wives might be furious at their husbands, after seeing their basements covered with all kinds of sharpie doodles, but here’s what Deb Kratzer had to say: “I have the coolest husband. He’s so bright, and artistic on top of it.”

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Japanese Artist Makes Complete Crocodile Costume

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Japanese artist Hisako Matsumoto created a crocodile costume, complete with helmet and boots, as her graduation piece.

Before going into PETA mode, you should know the costume is completely ceramic, with not a single piece of crocodile leather on it. But it does look like a genuine crocodile costume, and that’sactually the reason I decided to post photos of it on OC.

You’ll also find a photo of the artist, at the bottom. You have to admit, she’s pretty cute.

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Vermontasaurus – The Scrap Wood Dinosaur of Vermont

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The Vermontasaurus is the creation of Brian Boland, a man who decided to use scrap wood in the name of art. I’d say he nailed it.

A month ago, 61-year-old Brian Boland decided to turn a big pile of scrap wood, on the edge of his property in Vermont, into something beautiful that the local community could use as a free-admission gathering place. Using a dinosaur model as inspiration, he began building his Vermontasaurus, and within just nine days, the sculpture began taking shape. The basic rules he and a few volunteers set up ( no saws, no rulers and no using other materials other than what was available in the junk pile) let to the creation of an amazing piece of art, 22-foot-tall and 122-foot-long.

Some of Brian’s neighbors find the lack of rules in the Vermontasaurus sculpture quite interesting, while others just see a messy piece of art. But the opinions of his neighbors are the least of Brian’s problems. State officials don’t appreciate it when people start building stuff and don’t ask for permission first, so they’re now asking for all kinds of permits, priced at a few hundreds of dollars each, and even told the artist he may have to tear down the Vermontasaurus.

Right now people are forbidden to use the Vermontasaurus as a gathering spot, as it was intended, but hopefully, this amazing roadside attraction will have the chance to become one of Vermont’s most popular landmarks.

 

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