The Turf-Covered Houses of Norway

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Norway, like all Scandinavian countries, has always taken pride in trying to live in harmony with nature, instead of conquering it, and its old turf roofs are a perfect example.

Houses with their roofs looking like small meadows may seem a little strange in these modern times, but until the late 19th century, turf roofs were the most common type of roofs in rural Norway. Nowadays, inhabited turf-roof houses are very rare, as the Norwegians have turned most of them into museum exhibits.


Caboodle Ranch – A Cat-Sized Haven for Homeless Cats

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Caboodle Ranch is an impressive sanctuary for cats built by Craig Grant, a man who actually doesn’t like cats.

The story of Caboodle Ranch began when Craig’s son moved out, leaving his cat Pepper behind. Just when he was getting used to taking care of an animal he didn’t really want around the house, Craig found out Pepper was pregnant. Before long he was stuck with another five kittens. As they grew, neighbors started complaining about so many animals living in their building, and cats were even shot at with B.B. guns.

Although he’s not what you’d call a cat lover, Craig went out of his way to protect his cats, traveling 100 miles  from his Jacksonville home, to inspect a tree farm. The moment he saw it, Craig knew it was the perfect sanctuary for his purring pets, so he immediately bought 30 acres of land. He soon built an office trailer complete with small doors and padded shelves, for comfortable cat naps.


The Mentally Ill Toys of Martin Kittsteiner

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A German toymaker has designed a series of cuddly toys, each suffering from serious mental illnesses like depression and hallucination.

36-year-old Martin Kittsteiner, from Hamburg, says the idea to create the bizarre toys started from a joke between him and his girlfriend, who has a lot of stuffed toys, but he soon started to see the potential of the idea. Each of his cuddly toys has its own disease and symptoms, and comes with a medical history, referral letter and treatment plan. Martin hopes his unique creations will help families with children suffering from mental illnesses.

You can order your very own mentally ill toy from Martin Kittsteiner’s website, for $40 each. There, you can also play a mini-game and try to diagnose the toys’ problems.


Thailand’s Beautiful Soap Flowers

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They look like beautiful exotic flowers, and they even smell the part, only unlike the real thing, Thai soap flowers last forever.

Although these days, soap flowers can be bought as souvenirs from all around Thailand, these scented masterpieces originated in the villages around Chiang Rai. When they weren’t too busy tending to their farms or working in the rice paddies, locals practiced carving on pieces of soap. Their hobby turned into a fine art, and the delicate soap flowers they sold at the local night markets soon captured tourists’ imagination.

The art of soap carving is passed down from generation to generation, and since it’s all done using a few carving knives, the beauty of the flowers depends a lot on the skill and finesse of the artist. Chiang Rai remains the best place to buy soap flowers as souvenirs, and visitors can witness the carving process first hand.

Take a look at the jaw-dropping soap flowers and tell me if you could ever use any of them for washing your hands. I’d maybe do it if it was the last piece of soap on Earth.


The Gooey Chewing-Gum Sculptures of Maurizio Savini

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Italian artist Maurizio Savini has spent the last ten years creating amazing sculptures out of thousands of pieces of bright pink chewing gum.

Chewing gum may not be the most common media of the art world, but to 39-year-old Maurizio Savini it’s the most versatile material available. It’s easy to manipulate when warm, and can be cut with a knife, just like clay. Regardless of what many may think, chewing gum sculpting is an established art form, recognized all over the world, and Savini’s artworks are eagerly awaited by critics and connoisseurs, alike.

Disgusting as it may seem to some people, Maurizio Savini uses thousands of chewed up pieces of bubble gum for each of his sculptures. He molds them into the desired shapes and when the whole thing is done, he fixes the sculpture with formaldehyde and antibiotics. The amazingly detailed chewing gum sculptures of Maurizio Savini have sold fro up to $60,000 each.


California Couple Shares Home with Pack of Wolves

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Wolves may no seem like the best choice for pets, but to Paul Pondella and Colette Duvall they are more like members of the family.

This incredible friendship between man and animals began a few years back, when Paul Pondella rescued and adopted Shadow, a female black Alaskan timberwolf hybrid. The result of mating a domestic dog and a wolf, Shadow was welcomed into the couple’s home in Studio City, near Los Angeles. Since living with Shadow proved such an amazing experience, Paul and his partner, Colette, decided to adopt more wolf hybrids. And that’s how Allie and Takoda, together with their seven cubs, became part of the family.

These photos of the couple playing with the wolf hybrids may look cute, but according to Paul, it took several years of training to gain the animals’ confidence, because of their wild nature. Now, they are completely comfortable sharing their home with humans, and slouch on the sofas and even the couple’s bed, as if they were the owners.

Paul Pondella and Colette Duvall are currently involved in a project that seeks to educate children about wolves, their fascinating nature and the plight against them. They often invite people to interact with their wolf hybrids, as they believe there’s no better way to learn than first hand experience.


Cyckisk – The Bicycle Obelisk of Santa Rosa

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California-based artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector used around 340 bicycles and a tricycle to built the Ciclysk – a 65-foot-tall version of the Washington Monument.

The newly installed Ciclysk may be perceived as a monument that encourages people to ride bikes instead of driving cars, but its funding actually came from the “1-percent-for-public-art” that Nissan paid to open a big car dealership just south of where the odd obelisk is now located. Santa Rosa currently has a law that requires one percent of every major construction project be donated towards public art.

Although the Cyclisk looks like it’s made of brand new bicycle parts, artist Mark Grieve says he only used parts that beyond being used on a functional bike. All he did was cover his creation in a special coating that will keep it looking nice and colorful for a long time. The bicycle parts were all donated by members of the Santa Rosa community who were excited to contribute to the creation of their city’s newest landmark.


The Wacky Ice-Cream Graveyard of Vermont

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Have you ever wondered where ice-cream flavors go to die? Well, believe it or not, they have their very own cemetery, in Vermont.

The New England city of Vermont is famous for its Ben&Jerry’s ice cream, and the company’s Waterbury factory is the most popular tourist attraction in the whole state. One of the things that makes Ben&Jerry’s special is the wide variety of flavors, but as new ones emerge every year, older and unpopular ones reach the end of the line. To honor their memory, Ben&Jerry’s built a cemetery just for them.

Located on a hill, behind the famous Waterbury ice-cream factory, the Flavor Cemetery features hundreds of plastic tombstones, for every wacky flavor ever launched by Ben&Jerry’s. Each tombstone has an artist-written epitaph and a list of ingredients of the “deceased” ice-creams. Since the birth of Ben&Jerry’s, 200 flavors that have failed to impress customers, ended up pushing daisies in the Flavor Cemetery.

But don’t start crying over the demise of your favorite ice-cream flavor, just yet. According to Ben&Jerry’s, you have the power to bring “deceased” flavors back from the dead, by asking for it on their official website. If a flavor gets enough votes to convince management, it will be exhumed and brought back in the world of the living.


Sokushinbutsu – Japan’s Self-Mummified Monks

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Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist priests who took their own lives in such a way that they became mummies and were revered for their spirit and dedication.

Popular in northern Japan, especially around the Yamagato Prefecture, the practice of becoming Sokushinbutsu is believed to a tantric ritual from Tang China, brought to the Land of the Rising Sun by the founder of Shingon Buddhism.


Eggcubism – The Art of Painting on Egg Cartons

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Using the unique shape and texture of the egg carton to his advantage, Dutch artist Enno de Kroon creates fragmented and multifaceted images. He calls this new art form “eggcubism“.

Enno de Kroon says he has always experimented with distortions of perspective, and has had egg cartons around his studio for a long time, but needed to build up the courage to work with such an unusual art medium. Since the hindrances of the egg carton offer such a different perspective, depending on the angle it’s viewed from, Enno de Kroon was forced to approach painting in a whole new way.

Inspired by famous cubism masters like Picasso and Braque, who showed everyone how to take an object, a person or landscape, and show it from various angles, Enno de Kroon made looking at his artworks an interactive experience, where viewers had to discover the perfect viewing angles. But unlike traditional cubism, where there is just one right angle to an artwork, eggcubism features various viewing options, that turn a beautiful smiling lady into a five-eyed freak.

Check out more of Enno de Kroon’s amazing eggcubism masterpieces on his Flickr stream.


The Suitcase Architecture of Yin Xiuzhen

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Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen creates her Portable Cities by carefully arranging discarded clothes and other pieces of fabric, in suitcases.

One of the most original artists of our time, Yin Xiuzhen says she first got the idea for her amazing Portable Cities while she was traveling. Looking at the conveyor belt, in an airport, waiting for her baggage, she felt like she was actually traveling with her home, and decided to use this idea in her art. According to Yin Xiuzhen, her Portable Cities represent the ease with which the modern man is able to travel from one city to the next.

In the expert hands of Yin Xiuzhen, old clothing articles worn by everyday urban citizens become unique pieces of architecture. So far, the artist has created some of the cities she’s visited throughout the years, including Berlin, Vancouver, Seattle and her home city of Beijing.


Cascamorras – The Dirty Festival of Granada

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Every September 8th, the Spanish towns of Baza and Guadix host the Festival of Cascamorras, an event unique to the Granada region of Spain.

According to legend, the origin of “La Fiesta del Cascamorras” can be traced back to 1490, when Don Luis de Acuña Herrera decided to built the Church of Mercy in the town of Baza, where a Moazarabic mosque had previously been erected. While chiseling a block of plaster, Juan Pedernal, a worker from the nearby town of Guadix, heard a soft, soothing voice coming from inside a cavern, which said “Have mercy!”. Upon examining the cavity he stumbled upon a statue of the Virgin Mary, that came to be known as “Our Lady of Mercy”.


The Incredible Wire Sculptures of Ivan Lovatt

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Artist Ivan Lovatt has recreated the faces of celebrities such as Michael Jackson or The Beatles, using nothing but chicken wire.

Ivan Lovatt is one of those artists who are always looking for new media to experiment with, and for him chicken wire proved to be just what he needed. Before starting to mold chicken wire into intricate portraits, Ivan used it to give structure to some of his earlier sculptures. At one point, he began creating wildlife out of the unusual medium, and as his skills developed, he moved to celebrity portraits.

Most of his wire portraits take over a month to complete and about one and a half times larger than life size. Somehow, he manages to twist, bend and pin the wire in such a way that his portraits end up so detailed you can actually see every hair on their head. He became a professional sculptor six years ago, and since then , his works have been displayed in galleries and museums all around the world.


Robosteel Creates Awesome Replica of Bumblebee

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After they took the Internet by storm, last year, with their stunning replica of Optimus Prime, the guys at RoboSteel have done it again. This time, it’s Bumblebee.

RoboSteel came up with the idea for a steel replica of Transformers hero Bumblebee, at the MPH Top Gear Show, back in 2009, where their 2.5 meters-tall Optimus Prime made an appearance. Looking at a gorgeous yellow Camaro, the boys just thought it would be a great challenge, and that good ol’ Optimus deserved to be reunited with his long-time partner.

The 2.2 meter-tall replica of Bumblebee was created from pieces of recycled steel, and weighs a whopping 400 kilograms. While it may not be as awesome as the life-size Bumblebee showcased at the 2010 Cybertron Annual Meeting, in Shanghai, this is one of the coolest Transformers replicas I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few.

As for what Robosteel is planning for the future – they’re giving the Decepticons a chance for a change, with a replica of Megatron.


The Typewriter Artworks of Keira Rathbone

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British artist Keira Rathbone uses typewriters, instead of brushes and pencils, to create amazing portraits and drawings.

27-year-old Keira Rathbone, from London, first started experimenting with typewriter art, when she was in university. She baought an old typewriter, from a flee market, in the hope that she would soon use it to write something. By the middle of her first year at the university, she hadn’t come up with anything to put down on paper, so she decided to use it as a drawing tool. The first results were promising, and young Keira quickly realized she would be exploring this new art form much further.

Fast forward to present day and Keira Rathbone is an established artist with her very own niche, praised by the entire artworld. She now has an arsenal of 30 typewriters which she has used to create unique portraits of Barrack Obama, Kate Moss, Marylin Monroe, and others.

Keira Rathbone says she simply turns the roller to move the sheet of paper, and uses different characters to create the shapes she wants. It might sound easy enough, but creating detailed artworks from simple letters, numbers and punctuation is definitely not the easiest thing to do.


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