Wayne Kusy and His Impressive Toothpick Fleet

Chicago-based artist Wayne Kusy uses thousands of ordinary toothpicks and gallons of glue to create impressive-looking models of famous sea vessels.

50-year-old Kusy remembers he built his first toothpick model when he was just a child in the fifth grade. It was an Indian tepee and it got him a B+ in class, but toothpicks were to play a much bigger part in his life. He moved on to build a house out pf toothpicks, then a year later he started working on a ship that didn’t come out perfectly, but wasn’t far off the mark either, so he decided to build another one. And, before he knew it, he was pretty much obsessed with toothpicks.

Wayne Kusy’s amazing toothpick fleet began to take shape when he bought a plastic Revell model of the Titanic, studied the blueprints and deck plans, and spent the next three years recreating it with 75,000 flat and square toothpicks. It was impressive to look at, but it was so big that his small Chicago apartment could barely accommodate it, and there was no way to move it out without hitting the corners of his home and damaging the ship. The Titanic lost a lot of toothpicks on its maiden voyage out of Wayne’s apartment, but it taught the artist a valuable lesson – from there on he designed his ships so they could be reassembled from multiple segments.

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After the Titanic, Wayne needed a bigger challenge so he set out to create a replica of the Lusitana, which took a full year, and 193,000 toothpicks to complete. Only 25-pounds-heavy, this 16-foot-long model features a honeycomb-like skeleton which makes it as strong as if it was built out of hard wood. His next project was a toothpick model of the Queen Mary, a 25-foot-long replica made of approximately 814,000 wooden toothpicks that took another three years to complete. He has also patiently constructed models of the Cutty Saek and other popular ships.

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A freelance web graphic artist by trade, Kusy says “”I’d always thought of this as a hobby, but people started saying it was art and calling me an artist,”. Whether he considers himself an artist or not, Wayne Kusy’s toothpicks ships are true artistic masterpieces exhibited at various museums across America.

 

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