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South African Artist Paints with Plastic Waste

Mbongeni Buthelezi, an artist from South Africa, has shunned paint in favor of plastic. He melts discarded plastic bags and uses the molten material to produce stunning works of art. The 49-year-old has been working with the unique medium for the past 23 years, ever since he graduated from art school.

Buthelezi said he decided to work with plastic because he wanted to stand out, and this was an innovative, original idea to do that. “With watercolor and other mediums that I have experimented with in the past, I felt that I’m hitting the ceiling,” he told Euronews. “I’m not growing anymore. I wanted to be noticed and I wanted to catch attention, because I knew also that I’m moving into a career where you have to be really special to be able to even make a living out of it.”

According to Buthelezi, his chosen medium also serves as a metaphor for life. “I collect rubbish and create something beautiful from it,” he wrote on his website. “That’s what we can do with ourselves and our lives.”

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Chiara Vigo – The World’s Last “Sea Silk” Seamstress

The ancient Italian art of spinning ‘sea silk’ is all but lost, save for one woman who still knows how to produce the incredibly rare, almost magical fabric. While modern silk is spun from silkworms, Chiara Vigo can harvest the saliva of a rare variety of clam and spin it into a shiny, gold-like material called byssus.

Legend has it that byssus was the cloth that God instructed Moses to lay on the first altar. It is believed to be the finest fabric known to Egypt, Greece, and Rome. If treated properly with lemon juice and spices, the remarkable material shines when exposed to the sun. It is also incredibly light, so much so that the wearer cannot even feel it touching the skin. It is said to be as thin as a spider web, resistant to water, acids, and alcohols.

Vigo gathers the raw material required to weave the cloth every spring – she goes out diving early in the morning to cut the solidified saliva of a large clam, the Pinna Nobilis, an endangered fan-shaped species of mollusc that is native to the Mediterranean Sea bed. Vigo has mastered a special cutting technique that allows her to take the secreted material without killing the rare creature. 300 to 400 dives later, she is able to gather about 200 grams of material. 

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Makeup Artist Transforms into Amazingly Realistic Comic Book Characters

Comic book makeup is a huge trend these days, but a few artists truly stand out for their spectacular work. Joining the ranks of Lianne Moseley and other Marvel makeup gurus is Argenis Pinal, a California-based cosmetologist.

Argenis is insanely popular on Instagram with over 100,000 followers. The man is a wizard with makeup – he’s managed to transform himself into almost several comic book characters and he’s done such a good job of it that you only realise you’re looking at a living person and not an illustration when he moves.

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Gyotaku – The Traditional Japanese Art of Painting Fish with Actual Fish

Back when there were no cameras for fishermen to record their trophy catches, the Japanese came up with a unique printing method called Gyotaku. Gyo means fish, and Taku means impression, and the technique involved just that – using freshly caught fish to make inky impressions on paper.

Hundreds of years ago, Japanese fishermen would take paper, ink and brushes out to sea with them. They would rub the fish they caught with the non-toxic sumi-e ink and then print them on rice paper. Most of the fish were then cleaned and sold in markets, but a few revered ones were released back into the ocean. In the mid-1800s, fishermen began to add eye details and other embellishments, giving rise to a unique art form.  

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Indian Artists Turn Mumbai Taxis into Artworks on Wheels

‘Taxi Fabric’ is an innovative art project in Mumbai, India, that allows upcoming designers to transform the interiors of taxicabs in the city. Ten cabs have been given vibrant makeovers so far, and a Kickstarter campaign is underway to raise funds for more.

“The Taxi Fabric project is all about providing Indian designers with a unique platform to show off their work – using taxi seats as their canvas,” the campaign page reads.  The designers who founded the project also hope to “show Indians the impact good design can have.”

The team added that Indian taxi drivers do pimp their cars to stand out from the competition, but the upholstery usually doesn’t get much attention. The designs are just something drivers pick up from local markets, mostly “dull and forgettable”. The Taxi Fabric project wants to change that by creating bespoke fabrics with designs that reflect Mumbai’s life and culture.

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90-Year-Old Watchman Turns Russian School into a Veritable Art Gallery

After 25 years of teaching art at several schools, Valery Khramov finally retired from his job, but not from art. The 90-year-old spent the entire summer painting the walls at the school where he currently works as a watchman. He singlehandedly managed to transform the boring institution into an ethereal space, just in time for the new academic year.

“I spent the last three months at school,” Valery told the local media. “All I did was paint and draw. It has been 10 days since I slept – it was necessary to have time to finish everything for the new academic year.” And now that the kids are back in school, they’re absolutely thrilled with the new decor. In fact, first graders are actually being taken on tours of the ‘gallery’. What a fantastic way to beat back-to-school blues!

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Man with Two Perfectly Good Ears Is Growing a Third One of His Arm

Award-winning Australian performance artist Stelarc is doing something utterly bizarre in the name of art – he’s growing a third ear, on his arm!

Is that even possible, you ask? Well, turns out that it can be done through a complicated surgery. The ear itself was constructed using a frame made of biocompatible material commonly used in plastic surgery. It was transplanted into his arm, under his skin, and within six months, his tissue and blood vessels managed to morph with the material. The ear can’t hear yet, but it definitely is a feeling, functional part of his body.

“I guess I’ve always got something up my sleeve, but often my sleeve is rolled down,” Stelarc joked. “The ear is pretty much now a part of my arm, it’s fixed to my arm and it has its own blood supply. People’s reactions range from bemusement to bewilderment to curiosity, but you don’t really expect people to understand the art component of all of this.” Read More »

Fish Bone Painting – The Unique Art of Han Bin Lin

For the past two decades, Chinese artist Lin Hanbing has been producing beautiful artworks made exclusively out of discarded fish bones. He’s passionate not only about his creative process, but also about raising awareness on social and environmental issues through his work.

Lin, 51, happens to be China’s only fish bone artist. After graduating from an arts and crafts university in 1989, he began to experiment with using fish bones, drawing inspiration from Chinese calligraphy. “When I was young I felt fish bones were very beautiful, and they gave me a lot of inspiration,” he said. “They’re shaped like the strokes of ancient Chinese calligraphy – primitive and elegant.”

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Artisanal Currency, a Refreshing and Totally Legal Way to Pay

Have you ever seen currency notes so beautiful that you’d actually hesitate to spend them? Well, they’re called ‘artisanal currency’, and they’re all the rage in several parts of the world, including London, Amsterdam, and New York. The concept is quite similar to artisanal coffee, cheese, or chocolate that is handmade, not mass produced.

According to The New York Times, “these are small-batch currencies designed by locals and lovingly handled by millennials, who came of age during the rise of the Internet.” Interestingly, this local currency is not meant to be a collectible, but is legally accepted at cash-only community businesses so that the money stays within the town or district.

London’s Brixton district, for example, has its own artisanal currency designed by award-winning artist Jeremy Deller. His £5 notes feature a “fuzzy, psychedelic image of an androgynous face surrounded by rainbow clouds and swirling etchings.” Deller said that he wanted to create “something old-fashioned looking, something almost pre-currency.” And the people of Brixton are quite pleased with their own special pound notes. “I’d be more inclined to save money if it all looked like that,” said Ewan Graham, a 31-year-old architect.

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Texas Industrial Worker Has Welding Down to an Art

There are plenty of artists out there who use welding as a part of their creative process, but none that I can think of actually make the welds their artworks.

That’s what makes Scott Raabe so special. The Texas-based industrial welder is so good at what he does that his welding works are pieces of art in their own right. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure pipe welding isn’t supposed to be this visually appealing. However, there’s something about the seemingly perfect way Scott weaves the welding beads between two pieces of metal that makes you want to stare at his works for hours on end.

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This 87-Year-Old Woman Loves Painting Houses and She’s Incredibly Good at It

They say age is just a number, and Agnes Kasparkova, a grandmother from the Czech village of Louka, in South Moravia, is a perfect example. At age 87, the adorable artist still spends most of her free time doing what she likes most – hand-painting her neighbors’ houses with traditional motifs.

Agnes Kasparkova retired from her work in agriculture 30 years ago, and has been painting houses ever since. Despite her frail hands, she manages to brighten up every building she works on with intricate ultramarine designs. “I’m just doing what I like,” she says, humbly. “I try to help decorate the world a bit.”

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Artist Creates Intricate Human Figures and Faces Out of Folded Fabric

Benjamin Shine is a British artist who specialises in using the folds of fabric to create detailed human figures and faces. We’ve featured some of his incredible celebrity fabric portraits in the past, but his latest series of artworks is even more impressive.

Called The Dance, Shine’s latest exhibit is on display at the Canberra Centre in Australia. It consists of two realistic human faces – one male and one female – constructed from over 2,000 meters of tulle. Surrounding the two faces are a series of dancing figures, silhouetted within the flowing fabric.

At first glance, the tulle sheets in Shine’s work seem haphazardly suspended, but he actually spent two-and-a-half months painstakingly folding, pleating, ironing and hand-sewing the netted fabric. He kept at it until each lifelike feature emerged out of the clouds of pink, purple, and blue. He later created contrasts using backlight, to highlight intricate details.

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These Sunglasses Let You Experience LSD Hallucinations, No Drugs Required

Thanks to Hungarian artist Bence Agoston, drug-induced hallucinations can now be an everyday experience. His 3D-printed sunglasses can simulate a visual replica of an LSD trip!

You don’t need a prescription to get these special glasses, only an appetite for the bizarre. Aptly named ‘Mood’, the glasses are made from 3D-printed frames fitted with six different patterned lenses that can be layered in different ways. Each lens has a unique Moiré pattern that filters red, green, or blue light. You’ve got to rotate them – kind of like an optometry device – in order to create different patterns.

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Italian Artist Turns His Palm into Mind-boggling Optical Illusions

These highly realistic three-dimensional paintings are the handiwork of Italian artist Luca Luce. He’s a makeup artist by profession, but he uses his extensive knowledge of colors and shading to create surreal optical illusions on his own palm.

Luca is an ace at clever shadow placement and photorealistic drawing. He brings these two aspects into every artwork in his unique palm painting series, creating astonishing images that will make you to a double take. For example, he painted a jigsaw piece taken out of his palm, with a gaping hole left underneath. The whole image is so realistic, it really does look like a piece of his palm has been lifted and placed aside.

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Artist Creates Stunning Body-Paintings That Glow under Black Light

Artist John Poppleton combines his love of painting and his knowledge of photography to create stunning landscapes that glow under black light. But the cynosure of his work isn’t the painting itself, it’s the unusual canvas he paints on – the human body!

Poppleton’s Bodyscapes feature mesmerizing scenes – right from summery African savannas to electric lighting storms – on the soft curves of the human form. The breathtaking images usually span out from the model’s back, branching out on to the arms, legs, neck, and even the head. He mostly uses female models, but some of his paintings are done on men as well.

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