49-year-old Chris Chamberlain, an IT worker from London, England, spent the last two years of his life piecing together the “Jewel of the Universe”, a giant mosaic of Earth made with 330,000 hand-cut pieces of stained glass, each smaller than a fingernail. Now, he’s trying to sell his magnificent artwork for £250,000 ($380,000).
Chris Chamberlain has always had a thing for the arts, but he can’t paint or draw to save his life. But what he can do is cut glass into tiny little pieces, so he decided to use this skill to create his very own impressive work of art. The Jewel of the Universe project started over two years ago, in the artist’s garage. Using NASA photos of Earth, he set out to create a unique mosaic of our planet, from glass and precious stones. It took Chamberlain six months just to cut the glass into little pieces, and another 21 months to set them in just the right place on a 3.18m x 2.18m sheet of perspex, using a pair of tweezers. During this long painstaking process, the English computer programmer even had to train himself to become ambidextrous, in order to avoid repetitive strain injury. Practically every hour of his free time was spent on this incredible mosaic, and Chris admits his wife didn’t see very much of him during these last two years.
To highlight important cities like New York, London or Hong Kong in his Jewel of the Universe, Chris Chamberlain used 1,238 real jewels including topaz, amethysts and sapphires. Rivers like the Thames, Amazon, Nile, Ganges and Yangtze were created with tiny turquoise shards. When the glass shard map was completed, Chris started work on a glass frame, made from 80,000 pieces of dark glass, and finally installed 6912 LEDs behind the perspex canvas, to illuminate the piece. “I can’t tell you the sense of relief when the final piece of glass went in. I’ve loved doing it but at times it drove me mad,” the self-taught artist said.
Now, the Jewel of the Universe is to be sold on eBay, with an asking price of £250,000. It sounds like an astronomical amount, but truth be told, many less-impressive pieces of art have been sold for much more. Not to mention that the proceeds from the sale will go toward funding humanitarian projects in Sierra Leone, where Chris’ daughter, Theodora, was born. “If I get just a fraction of what I’m asking on eBay, then I can make a difference to Sierra Leone,” Chamberlain said. “And the buyer is welcome to head out there with me and join in with some of the projects I’m trying to help. It might be the adventure of a lifetime.”