Jeff Ivanhoe has been using aluminum cans to create his incredible artworks since 1981. They’re called ‘alumosaics‘, and as you’ve probably already guessed, they are colorful mosaics made of aluminum.
Aluminum has been around for over 100 years years, and during that time it has proven to be one of the world’s most versatile and easily recyclable materials. We use it to make light construction and car parts, as electronics casings, and even to make unique Christmas trees. But Jeff Ivanhoe has found yet another use for aluminum. He uses recycled soda and beer cans to create his famous alumosaics, a delightful art form he and his wife Barbara invented by pure chance.
Over 30 years ago, Ivanhoe was working on a very ingenious invention that had absolutely nothing to do with alumosaics. He was getting ready to patent his stretch shoelaces, which it possible to insert your foot into a shoe by just pulling on the tongue of the shoe, without having to tie a knot on the shoe itself. It was pretty clever, but Jeff was looking for something special that would make his shoelaces look unique during his presentation. He thought about aluminum, and started cutting soda cans into little pieces and wrapping them around the tip of his stretch shoelaces. He had made hundreds of them, so he ended up with lots of leftover aluminum pieces around the house.
One day, he found his wife, Barbara, playing around with all that aluminum junk, moving them around and trying to create a pattern. Jeff told her they were useless and that she would never be able to make anything with them. When he returned home, the artist saw Barbara had created the shape of an object from those aluminum pieces. They both looked at each other in awe, and said “Oh my gosh!”, knowing they were on to something. Over the following weeks, the couple worked on the portrait of a Native Indian, but the piece didn’t last very long. Because Jeff Ivanhoe didn’t yet know how to seal his works properly, it developed mold, but he learned from his mistake, and worked on improving his skills.
As early as 1982, alumosaics started showing up in galleries and libraries, were featured in national newspapers and were even featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. This, of course, fueled his desire and passion to create even more detailed artworks. “Just think … two hundred years from now, my son’s son’s son will probably have one of my pieces. Someone may even ask, what crazy person did this? That is what it’s all about,” Ivanhoe says about his unique art.
What’s most impressive about Jeff Ivanhoe’s alumosaics, is his ability to create detailed portraits and models of objects, just by using the designs on the original aluminum cans. At first, you think you’re looking at a painted mosaic, but as you approach the artworks, you realize everything from the outline to the color tones is rendered exclusively with the original cans.