Cascamorras – The Dirty Festival of Granada

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”.

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The Incredible Wire Sculptures of Ivan Lovatt

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.

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Belgian Cook Sets New French Fries Making Record

Chris Verschueren, a 53-year-old French fries maker, from the Belgian village of Kastel, has set a new world record after cooking and selling French fries for 83 consecutive hours.

Verschueren turned on his deep fryer on Friday morning and didn’t stop frying potato chips until Monday evening. During this cooking marathon, the tenacious chip-maker only took a 100 minute break to shower and do some stretching. After cooking up 1,500 kilograms of potatoes, Chris Verschueren had this to say: “My fingers are burnt, my feet are sore and my wrist is painful, but it doesn’t matter, I’m going to party now.”

Although he couldn’t reach his goal of selling 1,500 bags of French fries, the national Belgian dish, Verschueren managed to break the old record for non-stop French fry making, of 72 hours, set in 1987 by a British cook.

Apart from his passion for making French fries and the desire to have his name mentioned in the record books, Chris Verschueren took on this challenge to raise funds for a children’s hospital.

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Ti Jian Zi – The Ancient Art of Shuttlecock Kicking

One of the most popular traditional Chinese arts, Ti Jian Zi, known in the western world as shuttlecock kicking, requires a great deal of skill and practice.

The game of shuttlecock kicking is believed to have been invented sometime during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and gradually increased in popularity,  to a point where shops that specialized in the making of shuttlecocks began appearing all over China. The art of shuttlecock kicking reached its climax during the Qing Dynasty, when competitions were held between masters of the game from all over the country.

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Robosteel Creates Awesome Replica of Bumblebee

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.

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The Typewriter Artworks of Keira Rathbone

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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Fisherman Catches 1,000 Different Species of Fish

47 -year-old Steve Wozniak, a lure fisherman from California, has traveled the world over, in his quest to catch as many different species of fish as possible. So far he managed to catch 1,000 species, from a colorful Threadfin Butterflyfish to a 410 kilogram shark.

Believe it or not, Steve Wozniak has spent the last 10 years, and $75,000 traveling to 63 different countries in the search for new species of fish to put on his list. He flew over 1 million air miles, and spent over 20,000 hours holding his trusty rod and hoping for a bite. But all his efforts paid out when he finally caught his 1,000th fish species, a Norwegian coalfish, and set a new world record.

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Jeremy May Creates Jewelry from Book Cutouts

We’ve seen books used as an art medium before, but never as material for unique pieces of jewelry. Jeremy May manages to capture the beauty of paper and makes it available to everyone, in the shape of various fashion accessories. His Littlefly jewels are made from hundreds of laminated sheets of paper, covered by a layer of gloss.  As each of his pieces are impossible to replicate, they are all unique.

The pages for Littlefly jewels are carefully selected, and the finish products are shipped with the book they were created from. It’s not like you can read it anymore, but it make a great packaging.

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How About a Glass of Piss Whiskey?

Before you click away in disgust, you should know James Gilpin’s piss whiskey isn’t as bad as it sounds, at least according to its creator.

James Gilpin, a researcher of new biomedical technologies, has managed to turn the urine of elderly diabetes patients into a type of single malt whiskey, suitable for export. He collects the urine from old volunteers, including his own grandmother, and purifies it pretty much the same way mains water is purified.

A type 1 diabetes patient himself, Gilpin first got the crazy idea of turning urine into whiskey after hearing a pharmaceutical legend about a company that allegedly set up shop near an old people’s home and started swapping cushions and other accessories for their urine. The chemicals from the urine could then be removed and used into new medicine.

After purifying the urine, the removed sugar molecules are added to the mash stock to accelerate fermentation. After thew stock ferments into clear alcohol. whiskey blends are added for coloring and taste, and the finished product is bottled with the name and age of the urine contributor. This way you know whose piss you’re actually drinking.

James Gilpin regards his method of turning urine into whiskey as more of an art form, rather than a conventional alcohol business. He’s just glad to showcase his water purification system as a way of efficiently collected the resources our elderly already process in abundance.

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Toy Car – Pretty Much the Most Amazing Car EVER!

That’s how the owner of this unique car describes his creation on his Flickr stream, and the geek in me agrees with him 100%.

The Toy Car is a one-of-a-kind vehicle covered with thousands of toys that the owner most likely collected as a child. Probably eager to show off his massive collection, or just wanting to give his Saab a second life as a cool art-car, the man behind this crazy creation glued all these toys all over the body of  his old ride.

I’m sure he can’t go too fast in that car anymore, for fear of his toys flying off the hood, but who needs speed when you can just cruise around town flaunting your geek spirit for everyone to see.

Check out more photos of the awesome Toy Car on AzyxA’s Flickr stream.

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Redheads Celebrate Red Head Day in Holland

Yesterday, thousands of redheads gathered in the Dutch city of Breda, for the fifth edition of the Red Head Festival. Participants were asked to come dressed in white, a color that really compliments their hair color, and were able to take part in all kinds of fun activities, workshops and even a fashion show.

The main criteria for attending the Red Hair Festival is that participants have natural red hair, but the event itself is not all about the hair, but the color read, in general. This unique event can be traced back to 2005, when Dutch painter Bart Rouwenhorst advertised for 15 red-haired models he wanted to paint. 150 people answered his ad and the painting session turned into an annual event for redheads. Last year , 4,000 redheads attended the Red Head Festival, and their number surpassed 5,000 in 2010.

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The Wood Veneer Paintings of Rob Milam

Using an artform known as “marquetry”, Rob Milam creates beautiful paintings with wood veneer.

Marquetry is defined as the composition of an image using natural wood veneer, cut into pieces and glued on a substrate, sort of like a puzzle. Every one of Rob Milam’s marquetry paintings start with a photograph. He uses Photoshop to create a black-and-white image showing the dark and light values and uses anywhere from four to sixteen different wood veneers to recreate it.

Every species of wood has a distinctive grain pattern and colors range from creamy white (holy and English sycamore), to dark brown (Brazilian rosewood) and even black (bog oak). Though he usually uses only naturally colored wood, Rob Milam sometimes makes use of artificially colored blue and green veneer, for replicating the eye’s iris.

The pieces of wood veneer are cut into pieces by the artist himself, using chisels, knives and saws.

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The Cardboard Cameras of Kiel Johnson

Cardboard is apparently one of the most popular art mediums of our time, and Kiel Johnson’s cardboard cameras are the latest in a series of impressive cardboard artworks.

From the cardboard-made Cakeland to the wonderful sculptures of Chris Gilmour, I’ve posted my share of cardboard creations, and to help me keep the tradition alive are Kiel Johnson’s amazing cardboard cameras. The American artist has crafted a whole series of cardboard cameras, from the “ancient” 8mm, to point and shoot, Polaroid, and even the latest DSLRs.

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Panjat Pinang – A Slippery Tradition of Indonesia

Dating back to the Dutch colonial days, Panjat Pinang is one of the oldest, most popular traditions in Indonesia.

Panjat Pinang is a very unique way of celebrating Indonesia’s Independence Day. Every year, in towns and villages around the country, tall nut-trees are chopped down and their trunks placed vertically, in the center of each settlement. A wheel full of prizes is placed on top, before the trunk is covered with oil or other lubricants, and young men are invited to try and reach the prizes.

This type of pole climbing was introduced to the Indonesians, by Dutch colonists, who came up with it as a form of entertainment. Every time an important event took place (like a wedding, or national holiday) they would install a Panjat Pinang pole and watch the natives attempt to reach the prizes.

Since the nut-tree poles are fairly high and very slippery, a single climber would have almost no chance of reaching the top, so contestants usually work together and split the rewards, if they succeed. Prizes consist of foods, like cheese, sugar, flour, and clothes. You might not think them worth the trouble, but for poor Indonesians, these are luxury items.

There is some controversy surrounding Panjat Pinang. While most Indonesia believe it is an educational challenge that teaches people to work together and work hard in reaching their goals, there are those who say Panjat Pinang is a degrading display that sends the wrong kind of message to Indonesia’s youth. There’s also the environmental issue of cutting down a significant number of nut-trees for such a hedonistic celebration.

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The Shocking Fireball Festival of Nejapa

The Fireball Festival is an old tradition celebrated each year, on August 31st, in the town of Nejapa, El Salvador.

“Las Bolas de Fuego”, as the locals refer to this bizarre event, is actually a reenactment of the fight between San Jeronimo and the devil. In 1922, the people of Nejapa and the surrounding area were forced to evacuate, by the eruption of a nearby volcano. As they were leaving, locals saw great balls of fire spewing out of the volcano, and believed their patron saint was actually fighting the devil with them.

Ever since they witnessed the fight between good and evil, the people of Nejapa have celebrated it each year, by organizing their very own fireball fight. If you didn’t know this was an organized celebration, you’d be tempted to think you’ve been dropped in the middle of a war-zone. Two teams of young men, with their faces covered by war paint, throw flaming fireballs at each other, surrounded by hundreds of bystanders who watch their every move.

Equipped with gloves and clothes soaked in water, the brave combatants throw and at the same time, evade the flaming fireballs made from rags and dipped in fuel. Some of their clothes do catch on fire, and some of the participants are often hit right in the face, at point blank, but despite all the health hazards, few injuries have been reported during the Fireball Festival.

It’s definitely a shocking display, but un a country like El Salvador, where gangs and violence are everywhere, getting hit by a flaming fireball, during “Las Bolas de Fuego” is the least dangerous thing that can happen.

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