Desiree Palmen – The Real Life Invisible Woman

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

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

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

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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Feline Lover Collects over 2,000 Ceramic Cats

60-year-old Pamela Cole has spent most of her life putting together an impressive collection of over 2,000 ceramic cats, and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

When Ms. Cole says she’s crazy about cats, you best believe she means it – her house in Hollywood, Birmingham is practically full of ceramic cats, from a common replicas of cartoon characters like Top Cat, to 7th century BC Egyptian statuettes.

This unusual obsession with ceramic cats can be traced back to Pamela Cole’s childhood years, in the 1940s, when her mother bought her a cat to stop her feeling lonely. It was a simple pottery cat from a gift store in Corporation Street, but it kick-started her passion for collecting, and from then on she spent her days scouring shops and craft fairs in search of cat china.

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The Cat Museum of Kuching

Located in the strange UFO-like DBKU building, in Kuching, the Cat Museum is the perfect tourist attraction for cat lovers interested in anything and everything feline.

The Malaysian city of Kuching translates as The Cat City, so it makes perfect sense it have its very own cat museum, especially since many Malaysians believe cats bring good luck. The Cat Museum, along with dozens of cat statues around Kuching were erected in celebration of the city’s name, and the important role cats play in the every day life of the locals. It was inaugurated in 1993, and has since then become a favorite destination of cat lovers all over the world.

The Cat Museum of Kuching features over 2,000 feline related items, but it’s much more than just a collection of artifacts – it’s also a research center that focuses on the history and various beliefs surrounding cats. Among the most impressive displays are a mummified Egyptian cat dating back to 3500 BC, and the only stuffed specimen of the world’s rarest cat, Felis badia,  which lives in the jungles of Borneo. There are also plenty of cat statues made by various cultures, cat photos, posters and even stamps for cat loving philatelists or morbid cat burial scenes.

Believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, the Kuching Cat Museum offers plenty of valuable information into the history of cats and their part in human life, and is a must-visit attraction for cat enthusiasts everywhere.

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Artist Turns Insects into Fashionable Pieces of Jewelry

The “Living Jewels” created by Etsy artist aquakej are made from real colorful insects collected from all around the world.

Insect art is definitely not for everyone, but if the mere thought of bugs doesn’t make your skin crawl, you might actually consider wearing one of these unusual accessories. The Insects come from various insect farms that provide a healthy and eco-friendly living for people in developing countries, so you don’t have to feel guilty about wearing insect species into extinction.

Here’s what aquakej has to say about her rather creepy collection of insect jewelry:

Insect Art is made of real insects from around the world. They come to me dried out and all folded up. I re-hydrate them to make them flexible again, and then spread them out on a styrofoam board with sewing pins and little strips of paper. I do not put any pins through the bodies of my insects; I like them natural-looking and lifelike. This makes the insects a bit more difficult to handle, but the end result is worth it. Lastly, I choose an art background for the shadowbox frame and glue the insects onto that. The whole process takes several days, and each end result is unique.

Unique is right, but I’m not sure I’d willingly have these creepy crawlies on my body, but if you like them, you can check the artist’s shop and official site.

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Unique Matchstick Furniture Made in the USSR

Many people don’t realize it when they first walk into Roman Yerokhin‘s apartment, but many of his beautiful pieces of furniture are decorated with some of the most unusual materials – burnt matchsticks and broken tiles.

But as soon as they sit at the large monolithic table in his kitchen and notice its decorative patterns are actually made from thousands of burned matchsticks, their jaws instantly hit the floor and then the questions start. The first thing that pops into their heads is that his family used these common materials because they were poor, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Roman says his ancestors were wealthy jewelers before the communists came to power, and even during their regime, his parents made a decent living as graphic artists. The main reason they resorted to matchsticks as decorations is that any other materials were scarce, and having lived under a communist rule myself, I know just what he means. Communism put a roof over your head, provided you with a job and put some food on the table, but it did absolutely no toleration for exercising cultural and spiritual freedom.

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The Sanctuary of Truth – Pattaya’s Wooden Wonder

Rising105 meters into the sky, the Sanctuary of Truth is a one-of-a-kind gigantic structure that pays homage to the ‘Ancient Vision of Earth’, ‘Ancient Knowledge’ and ‘Eastern Philosophy’. It looks like a Thai temple or a palace, but it’s actually neither of them, so many people just look at it at as a monument to Thai craftsmanship.

Covering thirty two acres of land, on a rocky hilltop overlooking the ocean, the Sanctuary of Truth is the most magnificent sight in North Pattaya, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. It is entirely carved out of teak wood and features the most beautiful and elaborate wood carvings I have ever seen, inspired by the four major artistic and philosophical influences in Thailand (Chinese, Thai, Khmer and Hindu). Buddha heads, sacred animals and all kinds of  religious and philosophical themes are depicted in the thousands of wooden sculptures and carvings adorning both the interior and outside walls of the sanctuary.

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World’s Most Expensive Bed Costs $6.3 Million

Stuart Hughes, one of the world’s most controversial designers, has set out to create the “Baldacchino Supreme“, a handmade bed priced at a whopping $6.3 million.

Everything Stuart Hughes creates has to be over the top, or chocking, and his latest work is no different. The Baldacchino Supreme has a structure made from the finest curving ash wood and chestnut wood with a canopy of cherry wood. It’s inlaid with 107 kg of 24 carat gold, and features various gold leaf decorations, while the headboard can be decorated with diamond buttons or other precious stones.

When it comes to fabric, you’ll have a hard time finding more luxurious materials than those used for Stuart Hughes Baldacchino Supreme. The finest Italian silk and cotton (with no burn certification) will have you sleeping like a king.

Priced at $6.3 million, this bed is so exclusive that only two of them will ever be created. The first one was completed in three months time and has already been acquired by an Italian businessman. And here I thought we had a serious financial crisis on our hands…Just so you know, the former world’s most expensive bed, from Parnian Furniture, was worth “just” $210,000.

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The Dried Citrus Sculptures of Daniel Watson

They say idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so inmate Daniel Watson tries to keep busy by creating these beautiful sculptures out of dried citrus.

I stumbled across Daniel Watson’s unique creations while reading Accidental Mysteries (the coolest outsider art blog I know) and they immediately caught my eye. They may look like ancient artifacts, but they’re really just dried citrus skins carved by Daniel, in his spare time. He’s serving a life sentence in a California penitentiary, so he’s got lots of time on his hands…

Described as “hovering somewhere between Pre-Columbian and alien,” Daniel Watson’s dried citrus skin sculptures have been sold at various art auctions. The two artworks below were created in 1998, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any of his more recent creations. If anyone knows anything more about the artist and his work, please share with the rest of us.

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Hotel for Chicken Opens Up in Cornwall

I’ve read and written about a some pretty unusual hotels, in the past, but this is the first chicken hotel I’ve ever heard of.

The Chicken Hotel created by 31-year-old David Roberts, from Boskenwyn, Helston, is almost just like any other hotel out there, with one big difference – instead of people, it offers accommodations for chicken. I know it sounds like a joke, but this  place is for real, and apparently  it’s also very successful.

“With more people looking to escape the rat race and move out in the country with a little bit of land, keeping chickens is becoming more and more popular. But what do you do if you go away on holiday? Who looks after the chicken?” asks Mr. Roberts, who opened his unusual establishment to encourage people to raise their own chicken. A former cabinet-maker, David Roberts built the chicken coops himself and now rents them for 2 pounds each, plus 75 pence per chicken.

Each coop in the Chicken Hotel holds up to eight chicken and the current offer includes buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner of local produce, served in open-air. Guests are allowed to roam around the hotel grounds all day, before being gathered to roost at night. According to Mr. Roberts, the hotel was fully booked over Christmas time, and he hopes half term and Easter will be just as successful.

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Giant Porcelain Rabbit Is Made from 30,000 Plates

The people of Jingdezhen City, China have found an original way to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Rabbit – they’ve built a giant statue of a rabbit from 30,000 porcelain plates.

Ever since the Song dynasty, 1,700 years ago, Jingdezhen has been known as the “porcelain city” because of its porcelain-making history, so it made perfect sense the locals used centuries-old skills for the celebration. Just like that porcelain dragon from Yangzhou that I posted about last week, this giant rabbit sculpture features a metal frame covered with thousands of porcelain plates.

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Designer Creates Functional Sofa Out of 8,000 Chopsticks

Sofa_XXXX is the creation of German designer Yuya Ushida, is a unique expandable sofa made from 8,000 wooden chopsticks.

Showcased during the Designers Fair at the IMM Cologne 2011 exhibition, Sofa_XXXX attracted a lot of attention because of the unusual medium Ushida used, and its ingenious folding mechanism. The expandable and retractable sofa was created from 8,000 wooden chopsticks, individually cut to four different lengths and sanded to just the right angle, connected with metal rings and plastic joints. German-based designer Yuya Ushida spent three months working on the Sofa_XXXX project, but the stunning end result was definitely worth the effort.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this one-of-a-kind chopstick sofa is that it can actually support up to three 70-kg-heavy people at any one time.

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World’s Tallest Optimus Prime Statue Unveiled in China

An 11-meters-high, 21-ton heavy statue of Autobots leader Optimus Prime has recently been unveiled in one of the squares of Shenyang City, China. According to Chinese sources, this is the biggest Transformers replica ever created, beating the previous record (also set by China) by only one meter. Just like all the other Optimus Prime statues I’ve featured on Oddity Central in the past, this latest one was assembled from various old car parts, taken from 20 automobiles.

The world’s tallest Optimus Prime model was completed yesterday and can now be admired outside the “Guangzhou Street” metro station, in Shenyang. I didn’t know Asia was so big on the Transformers franchise, seeing it has its own giant robot creations, like Gundam or Tetsujin, but the most impressive Transformers statues so far were created in mainland China and Taiwan.

 

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