Illustrator Documents Her Shopping for the Last 6 Years by Drawing Her Everyday Purchases

From everyday groceries to household appliances and rare souvenirs, artist Kate Bingaman-Burt, from Portland, Oregon, keeps track of everything she buys by making silly drawings of something she purchases every day. She started this habit six years ago and has since then published two volumes of a book on the topic, called Obsessive Consumption – What Did You Buy Today?

Kate Bingaman-Burt is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University, but she’s also interested in modern consumerism. In 2002, she started documenting her shopping by photographing everything she purchased, and continued doing so every day until 2004. Then, she decided to combine her artistic talents with her interest in everyday consumption by replacing the photos with drawings she did herself. For the last six years, she has been making drawings of at least an item she buys every single day. The six years of the project have been compressed in two volumes of a book entitled Obsessive Consumption – What Did You Buy Today? published by Princeton Architectural Press, but can also be viewed online, on Kate’s official website.

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Tianducheng – A Small Piece of Paris, Made in China

It appears that the Chinese have tired of imitating objects, so they’ve now moved on to entire cities. How else could you explain the gated community of Tianducheng, that boasts its very own Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and European-style villas? Located near Hangzhou, the capital of the coastal Zhejiang province, the community built by real estate company Zhejiang Guangsha Co. Ltd. in 2007 is a housing development meant to attract China’s rich and powerful. The developers apparently wanted to give the wealthy Chinese a chance to enjoy European culture without actually having to travel thousands of miles.  It took five years of meticulous construction and landscaping to create the entire 19 sq. km (12 sq. mile) community.

According to Lu Xiaotian, the company’s director, “The community can house up to 10,000 people comfortably.” Apart from the obvious touristy feel, the community also provides amenities ranging from a school, a country club and a hospital. All this, in the midst of the serene surroundings of a park atmosphere. The real estate group has largely capitalized on the fact that Chinese honeymooners tend to flock to Paris, and also that French designer labels and wine are popular status symbols in major Chinese cities. So the community of Tianducheng gives residents the opportunity to sit on the steps by their very own Bassin de Latone, a cleverly done imitation of the famous fountain located in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. They can also admire the Eiffel Tower, which is a 108 m high replica of the 324 m original, in their very own neighborhood. Apart from the obvious imitations of famous monuments, there are the Parisienne-style gardens surrounded by rows and rows of European-style villas.

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The Religious Serpent Handlers of Appalachia

You would think that handling snakes is an activity limited to the snake-charmers of India. After all, the handling of such venomous creatures is naturally associated with the mystical cultures of the East. But you will be surprised to know that the practice exists in the U.S. as well, and has been present here for the past 100 years. ‘Snake handling’ or ‘Serpent handling’, as it is called, is a religious ritual followed in a small number of Pentecostal churches in the U.S., with origins in 20th century Appalachia. The belief behind the practice dates back to antiquity, and followers quote the Gospel of Mark and Gospel of Luke for support:

And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

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Quirky Calendar for Nerds Goes on Sale in Germany

A group of three self-confessed nerds hired a photographer to create a calendar that would appeal to fellow gamers and vintage technology fans. The 2013 Nerd Dreams Calendar recently went on sale in Germany but is available to geeks worldwide.

Are you a big fan of iconic devices like the Atari ST, Commodore C64 or Steve Jobs’ NeXT Cube? Would you like to see them in the hands of attractive girls that don’t have to take off their clothes in order to attract attention, and more importantly, share your passion for nerdy stuff? Then you’re bound to appreciate the new Nerd Dreams Calendar for 2013, imagined by a group of German nerds tired of having their interests passed up by calendar makers. They created their very own company, Nerd Dreams, hired a photographer and put together the calendar they’ve always wanted, making sure every photo was “suitable for work”. “We sub-contracted everything that had nothing to do with computers,” said Henning Schneider, one of the brains behind the nerd calendar, so the models were provided by an agency, and the pictures were taken by photographer Anna Schnauss in Frankfurt. Nerd Dreams 2013 features girls sporting geeky glasses and playing with old gadgets, as well as girls dressed as iconic video game characters like Lara Croft.

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Russian Artist’s Paintings Are Made with Dead Butterfly Wings

Vadim Zaritsky, a former police officer turned artist and entomologist uses a very strange medium for his artworks – butterfly wings. The subjects of his unique paintings range from landscapes and still life to portraits of political figures and famous artists.

I know it sounds cruel, but before you label Vadim Zaritsky’s art as a crime against nature, you should know he only uses the wings of dead butterflies that died en masse he finds on the paths and roads around his home city of Lipetsk, 438 kilometers southeast of Moscow, and dead specimens donated by fellow butterfly collectors. “Butterfly collectors know that some wings are considered – collectors call it trash,” Zaritsky says. “If the wings are damaged, if they have partially faded, specialists would usually put them aside. It’s a shame to throw them away but you cannot use them either. In time, the bits may become infested with pests and you have to throw everything away anyway.” One day it occurred to him that these pieces could be recycled into art instead of simply throwing them away. So he began using these discarded wings as a medium for his art, and in the last five years he has created over 100 works of art of varying size and theme. The Russian entomologist takes between a week and several months to complete a single butterfly wing painting.

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Designer Creates Fashionable Dresses Out of Thousands of Colorful Rubber Bands

Bulgarian-born designer Margarita Mileva spends around 90 hours painstakingly knotting rubber bands together to create wearable dresses. Her latest creation numbers 18,500 rubber bands.

The first time we featured Margarita Mileva on OC was back in 2011, when she created a stunning pastel dress out of 14,235 pieces of rubbery office supplies. She beat that record by knotting together a 10-kilogram garment from orange and black rubber bands, inspired by the spirit of Polynesia and the tattoos of the Maori. It took 150 hours to complete, and comes with matching rubber band shoes. “I always had an eye for jewelry and love to design clothes, knit and make collages,” 49-year-old Mileva says. “So when I started making jewelry from reusing paperclips, punched business cards and rubber bands, it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Rubber band dresses were the next step – I am trying to create unique pieces that I would like to be seen as conversation openers.”

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Siberian Doctors Use Sticks to Literally Beat Drug Addiction

There’s a new way to beat your addiction, but it hurts, a lot. Psychologists at a Siberian drug clinic are using corporal punishment to help drug, alcohol and even sex addicts get their lives back. The bizarre treatment involves lashing patients’ buttocks with sticks and canes.

“We cane the patients on the buttocks with a clear and definite medical purpose – it is not some warped sado-masochistic activity,” Professor Marina Chukhrova told The Siberian Times. Apparently, there are some sound scientific principles behind these beatings. Chukhrova and fellow practitioner Dr German Pilipenko claim addicts suffer from a lack of endorphins, known as the “happiness hormones”, and the excruciating pain stimulates their brains to release endorphins into the body, making them feel better about themselves without having to use any other stimulants. “The caning counteracts a lack of enthusiasm for life which is often behind addictions, suicidal tendencies and psychosomatic disorders,” Pilipenko says. He admits their technique gets a lot of skepticism from fellow doctors, but insists the pain acts as an injection against stress.

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Carbeque – Barbeque Installed in a Car Gives “To Go” a Whole New Meaning

What do you get when you put together a passion for cars and a love for barbeque? Well, a Carbeque, of course. A vehicle that’s perhaps the only one of its kind, the Carbeque looks just as cool as it sounds. Owned by Australian Radio personality Merrick Watts, the car itself is based around a 1973 Ford Langau, powered by a 351 V8 with extractors, and styled similar to the ones used in Mel Gibson’s ‘Mad Max’ movies. The only difference here is that the trunk comes with a fully functional grill. According to Watts, the Carbeque is the answer to the question that’s been plaguing people since the first tailgating party. “How many times are you driving somewhere, and there’s nowhere you can have a barbeque,” he says. But with the Carbeque, “you just pull over, and you start cooking.”

Watts was recently signed on as the face of Meat & Livestock Australia’s promotional campaign. As a part of the promotional activities, the Carbeque was unveiled in Parrmatta Mall on the 26th of November, last year. Just before he powered up the car for the first time at the unveiling, he said, “It’s balls-out amazing! I took our entire marketing budget. It’s not just a car, I introduced the world’s first CARBEQUE!” While describing the car, Watts said, “Half car, half barbeque! It’s integrated, it’s part of its genetic make-up, it’s been spliced with a barbeque. You open up the boot, and out comes a cantilevered barbeque, the greatest barbeque you’ve ever seen. Not some ratty little hot plate thing, a full blown barbeque.” Well, it has to be, considering that Watts spent a whopping $156,000 (the money meant for marketing his show, Merrick and the Highway Patrol), on the car. According to the show’s producer Elle Conwell, “We can cook 9 (10.5 ounce) T-Bone steaks at one time. The Carbeque can pump out around 35 pounds of steak within the hour, or around 200 sausages. The roasting hood means that this Carbeque is ideal for cooking multiple dogs at anytime – depends on your taste. Maybe three Chihuahuas or one larger German Shepherd!”

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Sick Gambling in Taiwan – Betting on When Terminally Ill Cancer Patients Will Die

A macabre gambling trend has taken off in Taiwan’s thrid largest city of Taichung. Doctors, nurses and even the families of terminally ill cancer patients are placing bets on when the sick will die, for the chance to win three times the wagered sum.

It’s sick what some people will do for money. According to various news reports, a sinister gambling trend has sprung up in Taichung, Taiwan- people are actually making bets on how long incurable cancer patients in the city’s hospitals have to live. And we’re not talking about isolated cases of morally-challenged gamblers looking to make some money through any means possible, this is a full-fledged underground industry industry worth over $30 million. On a single Taichung street there are over 60 so-called “senior clubs” posing as charity organisations for the elderly that are nothing more than gambling dens challenging punters to place their bets on whatever cancer patient they think is the most likely to die within one month. What’s even more disturbing about this practice is that doctors, nurses and even family members of the terminally ill patients are also eager for a piece of the action.

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Mind-Blowing Landmark Artworks Are Made Exclusively with Doodles

If you think doodling is just child’s play, you definitely haven’t seen Sagaki Keita’s works yet. This amazing Japanese artist can recreate virtually anything from classic statues and paintings to famous landmarks using thousands of tiny doodles.

We first discovered Sagaki Keita’s talent two years ago, when he took the art world by storm with his doodle recreations of famous masterpieces like the Mona Lisa, and now we’re featuring his work for the third time. The Tokyo-based artist has recently created a series of international landmark drawings, which when seen from a far seem to be really god pen drawings. But a closer inspection reveals countless entertaining characters doodled on to the canvas. It obviously takes mountains of patience to fill every inch of the white canvas with goofy drawings, and even to create well-placed shadows, but the final result is nothing short of awe-inspiring. His latest works include doodle recreations of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and The Great Wave, by Hokusai.

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Chinese Millionaire Works as a Street Cleaner to Set a Good Example for Her Kids

Yu Youzhen, a millionaire from Wuhan City, China, has been making headlines recently, after it was discovered she works as a street cleaner, for a 1,420 yuan monthly salary, in order to set a positive example for her two children.

During the 1980s, Yu Youzhen was just an average vegetable farmer in the Hongshan District Donghu Village Huojiawan, working hard with her husband in order to save some money. After years working from dawn till dusk, they became the first family in the village to own a 3-storey house. At the time, a lot of people were coming to Wuhan looking for work, and many of them needed a place to stay, so Yu started renting the spare rooms in her home. Each room would bring about 50 yuan every month, and the resourceful woman used the extra earning to build even more houses and add more floors. After several years, she had three 5-storey buildings, most of which were rented out. Construction regulations were loose in China, and everyone was building houses, but Yu Youzhen really lucked-out when, according to the policies of requisitioning and redevelopment of land, she and her family were compensated with 21 apartments for the houses they had built in Huojiawan. She wasn’t the only one, of course, but she personally witnessed how fellow villagers squandered away their fortunes on gambling, drinking and even drug use, so she made it a goal to set a good example for her kids and act responsible.

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Creepy White Chocolate Baby Heads Are Surprisingly Popular

I’m a big fan of white chocolate, but not even the strongest sweets craving couldn’t make me take a bite out of Annabel de Vetten’s creepy baby heads. They’re way too scary for me, but according to the English food artist they’re quite a hit at parties and baby showers.

The disturbing white chocolate artworks were originally designed as a private commission, but apparently they came out so good that Annabel decided to make several more. Then, her works were discovered by strange cake curator Miss Cakehead, who also brought the infamous STD Cupcakes to our attention, and now the eerily realistic newborn baby heads are a popular chocolate treat. “I just pictured ‘dead, milky eyes and skin’ and hit the nail on the so to speak. And creased the mold while it was setting to get a soft, ‘damaged’ effect. So, strangely enough, no challenge! I was a little worried some might think this is going a bit too far. But it’s only chocolate and if someone doesn’t like the shape it’s in, they can just go buy a Mars bar,” de Vetten told HuffPost.

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Gold-Obsessed Man Shows Off Solid Gold Shirt, Takes Pimping to a Whole New Level

Datta Phuge, a chit fund businessman from Pimpri, India, refers to himself as “The Gold Man of Pimpri” and in order to live up to this image, he has recently commissioned a 22-karat gold shirt weighing 3.2 kilograms that’s bound to make some Western rappers green with envy.

According to India Today, gold-obsessed businessmen and politicians are nothing new in India. Not long ago, a man by the name of Ramesh Wanjale was spotted wearing 2 kilos of gold, then NCP functionary Samrat Moze wore 8.5 kilograms of gold in the form of jewelry and ornaments, but chit fund Datta Phuge found a way to one-up them both. He had a team of 15 goldsmiths working 18 hours a day for over 15 days in order to finish a 3.5 kg woven gold shirt. “The gold shirt has been one of my dreams,” Mr Phuge told Indian newspaper the Pune Mirror“It will be an embellishment to my reputation as the ‘Gold man of Pimpri’”, Phuge said. His extravagant garment consists of 14,000 gold flowerrings, interwoven with one lakh spangles. It was assembled on a fabric base of imported white velvet, and comes with six Swarovski crystal buttons and an intricate belt, also made of gold.

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Ghost Money – Currency of the Afterlife

If there is indeed such a thing as afterlife, the Chinese and Vietnamese might just be the richest people there. And that’s because their living relatives make sure they are well provided for – by throwing money into flames. Well, not real money. Only fake notes. This fake money is commonly known as ghost money, “Joss paper” and as ‘pinyin’ (literally ‘shade’ or ‘dark’ money) in Chinese. The ghost money, along with other papier-mâché items (usually expensive stuff) are burned as a part of Chinese tradition – on holidays to venerate the deceased, and also at funerals, to make sure that the spirits have plenty of good things in the afterlife.

Traditionally, Joss paper is made from coarse bamboo paper or rice paper. The Joss is cut into squares or rectangles and has a thin piece of square foil glued in the center. Sometimes, it is even endorsed with a traditional Chinese red ink seal depending on the particular region. The paper is generally of a white color (symbolizing mourning) and the foil is either silver or gold (representing wealth), hence the name, ghost money. The three types of ghost money are copper (for newly deceased spirits and spirits of the unknown), gold (for the deceased and the higher gods), and silver (for ancestral spirits and local deities). Sometimes Joss paper is completely gold, engraved with towers or ingots. The burning of joss paper is not done casually, but with a certain reverence, placed respectfully in a loose bundle. Some other customs involve folding each sheet in a specific manner before burning. The burning is mostly done in an earthenware pot or a chimney built specifically for this purpose.

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California Water Tower Is Actually a Beautiful 3-Storey House

If you look at the structure located at 1 Anderson Street, Seal Beach, California, you can see nothing but an ordinary water tower. But after a closer inspection you’ll realize it’s not filled with water, but common household items. It was several years ago, when the 100-year-old 9-storeys-tall water tower with a capacity of 75,000 gallons had outlived its purpose and was going to be torn down that a few local architects began taking interest in the structure. The tower was originally used to service steam engines traveling on the California coast. After the trains stopped running, the water tower was rendered useless. It was in danger of being demolished in the 1980s, when the architects stepped in, got permits and converted the tower into a beautiful home.

The process of converting a century-old structure into a home was no easy feat. First, the original water tank had to be removed and placed in a parking lot. After 18 months of renovation, a skilled team of engineers worked together to lift it up and put it back in its original place. A commercial elevator and two jacuzzis were added as the final touches to the 3000 sq ft. house. One of the jacuzzi tubs is actually on the upper deck and provides a view of the ocean. Almost every window in the house is fitted with stained glass. There are also two master bedrooms, a maid’s quarters, and four bathrooms. One of the bathrooms has rotating walls, so you could enter in the bedroom and come out from the hallway. The entertainment room has a 360 degree view, a built-in movie theatre, electric blinds and an indoor fire pit. From one direction you get to see the Pacific Ocean and the Catalina Island, and from another you get a view of the Newport Beach, Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro and San Bernardino Mountains. On a clear day, you can even get a glimpse of Los Angeles.

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