The Money Sculptures of Justine Smith

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London based artist Justine Smith makes original sculptures and collages using real banknotes from various countries around the world.

From the artist’s website:

Paper has always been a primary material in the work of Justine Smith. Her current work is concerned with the concept of money and how it touches almost every aspect of our lives. She is interested in money as a conduit of power and also in the value systems with which we surround it. On a physical level a banknote is just a piece of paper, but it is what a banknote actually represents that is central to Smith’s work. Through her collages, prints and sculptures she examines our relationship with money in a political, moral and social sense, whilst also exploiting the physical beauty of the notes.

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Van Gogh’s Starry Night Recreated with Delicious Bacon

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So what do you do when you have plenty of time and bacon on your hands? That’s an easy one, try to recreate some of the world’s most popular paintings.

At least that’s what Instructables user CooperTwist decided to do. He used one package of turkey bacon, two packages of regular bacon, a sharp knife, and two cutting boards, one for actual cutting, and the larger one as a canvas for his bacon masterpiece. He began by cutting the bacon into long strips, according to their color and ended up with five piles of goodness: light turkey bacon, dark turkey bacon, red bacon, pink bacon, and white bacon fat.

He then printed aversion of the original Starry Night and tried to focus on the things that stand out and make it unique: the swirling cloud, the tall village church and the dark treetop in the foreground. He used whole strips for the clouds and cut smaller pieces for the details around the village.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night was also recently recreated with 8,000 bottle caps, by two students from the University of Virginia.

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Artist Builds The Great Wall of Vagina

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It’s not as old or as long as the Great Wall of China, but artist Jamie McCartney’s “Great Wall of Vagina” is definitely more shocking.

The English sculptor has spent the last five years working on this controversial artwork, casting plaster molds of 400 vulvas of women aged 18 to 76. The models used for the McCartney’s Great Wall of Vagina include mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women, as well as a woman pre and post natal. He wanted to include as many possibilities as he could, and during the five years of work looked for someone who had suffered from genital mutilation to model for him, without success.

So why does someone create such a bizarre, intriguing work of art? Well, according to the artist:

Vulvas and labia are as different as a faces and many people, particularly women, don’t seem to know that… showing the variety of shapes is endlessly fascinating, empowering and comforting. For many women their genitals are a source of shame rather than pride and this piece seeks to redress the balance, showing that everyone is different and everyone is normal.

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China’s Incredible Fruit Pit Carving Art

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The miniature folk art of fruit pit carving has been practiced in China for centuries, and is still praised for turning useless fruit stones into valuable works of art.

Nut carving (Heidao), which refers to both fruit pit and walnut carving, became popular during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and by the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) it had become one of the most appreciated art forms in mainland China, with royalty and high-ranking officials considering it fashionable to wear carved fruit pit accessories. Even today, intricate nut sculptures like those made in Suzhou, Yangzhou, Weifang in Shandong and Guangdong Province are famous for their level of detail and unique characteristics.

Often referred to as “an uncanny work of art“, fruit pit carving requires a series of skills and tools in order to produce a fine piece of art. One needs exceptional three-dimensional carving skills, a great deal of patience and most importantly, he has to be familiar with the irregular texture of a fruit pit. Peach stones are the most commonly used material for nut carving, and despite its many bumps and holes, a seasoned fruit pit carved can immediately tell if a pit is right for the artwork he has in mind.

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Modern Tower of Babel Made of Books Appears in Buenos Aires

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Popular Argentine artist Marta Minujin has created a 25-meter-high spiraling Tower of Babel made from 30,000 books written in various languages.

This modern version of the Tower of Babel was designed in celebration of Buenos Aires’ designation as World Book Capital 2011, by UNESCO, and local authorities say it represents the ideas of pluralism and diversity which also characterize the Argentine capital city. This isn’t Minujin’s first experience with book installations; in 1983, when democracy was restored in Argentina, she built a replica of the Parthenon from books banned by the former military dictatorship.

The tower consists of a spiraling metal frame and around 30,000 books written in most of the world’s languages and dialects. You can find all kinds of books, from dictionaries and encyclopedias to software manuals and classic novels, arranged on six levels. The bottom level features a collection of books from around the world, the first and second levels are for American books, the third and fourth are reserved for Europe, the fifth for Africa and the sixth for Asia. 16,000 of the books were donated by 52 embassies in Buenos Aires, while the rest were provided by Argentine readers.

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Tony Orrico – The Human Spirograph

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American artist Tony Orrico uses his entire body as an instrument to create massive artworks that are both highly precise and organic, at the same time.

Orrico manages to blend his background in dance and choreography with a passion for drawing in a unique process that starts off with dance-like movements and ends with an abstract illustration. Holding a pencil in each hand, the young artist approaches a massive paper canvas, and using the symmetry of the human body to create various abstract shapes. Whether he’s spinning his entire body or just his wrists, Tony Orrico sets a specific motion that is repeated throughout the performance, until his work is completed.

The abstract images Tony creates can be quite stunning, but to fully appreciate and understand his talent, one must witness the creative process. Seeing him lying face downward on the paper, rotating his torso in full circles, with his arms outstretched drawing a variety of shapes really is a unique sight. Tony Orrico spends between 15 minutes to as long as 7 hours to complete one of his artworks.

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The Written Portraits of Anatol Knotek

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Anatol Knotek is a talented young Austrian artist whose  visual poetry artworks revolve around the written character.

Knotek’s interest in visual poetry arose around a decade ago, after a meeting with an Austrian poet. Until that time he had only been interested in painting and the classic fine arts, but after his first contact with visual poetry, he realized how fascinated he was by it, and started working primarily in this field. Since then, Anatol Knotek has become one of the world’s most celebrated artists and has had his works displayed in many art galleries around the world.

The purpose of his “written images” is to express ideas strongly bound to the written, spoken and visual language. Out of all of his works, the written portraits stand out with their complexity and level of detail.

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Indoor Swimming Pool Hosts Underwater Opera Show

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Aquaria Palaoa is a different kind of opera performance, where the protagonists sing in, out and under the water of a swimming pool, in Berlin, Germany.

Claudia Herr, a former swimming champion before turning to a music career, is the mastermind behind the unique Aquaria Palaoa project. In an interview with news agency AFP, Herr said she first got the idea for hosting an opera show at an indoor swimming pool the first time she visited the art nouveau Stadtbad Neukölln pool, in Berlin, 10 years ago. The large hall, complete with neo-classical pillars made her feel like she was at the opera.

Playing the lead role in Aquaria Palaoa, the former swimmer turned opera performer dives into the pool in a green evening dress, telling the story of a woman looking for the elixir of eternal youth. She sings both above and under the clear water of Stadtbad Neukölln, with the help of oxygen tanks. Special microphones transmit underwater sounds to speakers set up around the hall. Claudia’s voice, and those of other singers also singing underwater (but without oxygen tanks) are mixed with sounds recorded 100 meters under an ice shelf, in Antarctica. Meanwhile, the orchestra stays dry and accompanies them from the side of the pool.

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Sandy Sanderson’s Beer Can Automobiles

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Sandy Sanderson is a resourceful New Zealand artist who uses empty soda and beer cans to create detailed models of famous automobiles.

England-born Sandy was trained as a draughtsman, but later became a Technology teacher and emigrated to far away New Zealand. Here he pursued his interest in building airplane, car and bike models, until the age of 40, when he joined a local band and started playing bass guitar. This made him change from building models to making electric string instruments.

Unfortunately, a bike accident shattered one of his wrists and his dream of retiring as a luthier. After surgery, he was still able to use his hand, ride a bike, but the sensitivity and fine control needed to play bass and follow his dream were gone. But it was during his recovery period that he discovered a new hobby – looking at some Coruba and Coke cans he remembered seeing some beautiful aircraft models made from aluminum cans, only they had the plain silvery side on the outside. This didn’t make any sense to him, as the whole point of using such a resource would be to show it to the world and celebrate it instead of hiding it.

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Disabled Artist Creates Detailed Artworks Using Only His Mouth and Right Foot

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41-year-old Huang Guofu, from Chongqing, China, has learned to master the paintbrush with his mouth and right foot, after he lost both his hands in a childhood accident.

Huang Guofu lost his arms in terrible electric shock accident, at the tender age of four, but that didn’t stop him from following his dreams, and at age 12 he began painting with his feet. The talented artist remembers that in the beginning, his artworks didn’t look at all like what he intended to paint, but as the years went by his skills improved considerably. Huang quit his studies when he was 18, as his father was very ill and he needed to make money for his treatments. He started travelling to other Chinese cities, creating beautiful paintings on the side of streets and selling them to passers-by.

It was during his art travels that he began using his mouth to paint, after hearing some comments that painting with one’s leg isn’t very elegant. He put a brush in his mouth and started painting. During a trip to a city in China’s Sichuan Province, Huang Guofu met Hu Guoui, a woman who quickly fell in love with his strong will and artistic talents, and the two got married in 2000. Since then, she has become his assistant, carrying his canvas and tools, whenever he needs to paint a scene on location.

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Polish Woodcarver Makes Functional Bicycles Exclusively from Wood

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Slawomir Weremkowicz, a 59-year-old former plumber from Poland, creates functional bicycles using only wooden components.

The talented woodcarver from Biala Podlaska says he had always wanted to be an artist, and since God gave him the talent of carving wood, he he thought he should do something amazing with it. So he decided to go greener than green and create a series of wooden bikes for which he didn’t use a single gram of metal or plastic. Simply looking at a piece of wood, Slawomir can already envision how he’s going to turn it into one of his bicycle parts, and using simple woodcarving tools like chisels and saws he does just that.

The seat, steering, even the pedals and chain are made only from a variety of wood (oak, ash, beech and plywood) and if you’re looking for screws holding them together, don’t bother, as Slawomir Weremkowicz only uses wooden pegs. Carving an entire wood bicycle is a lengthy process which takes about a year, but when he looks at his completed “wooden dinosaurs”, as he likes to call them”, Slawomir doesn’t regret the time he puts into his work.

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Chinese Pavilion Made Entirely from 668 Abacuses

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Showcased during an abacus-themed exhibition held in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, this large pavilion model is made from 668 different-size abacuses. Used as a calculating tool centuries before the adoption of the written numeral system, the abacus is a big part of Asian culture, and is still widely use by merchants and clerks around Asia and Africa. Apart from the impressive abacus pavilion, visitors at the exhibition could admire over 100 abacuses, from the simplest to more complex versions.

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Embroidered Eggs – The Coolest Thing This Easter

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Just when you think you’ve seen everything, along comes another mind-boggling art form that you didn’t think existed and probably never even imagined. This time it’s embroidered eggs.

I can say I’ve seen my share of wonderful Easter egg artworks, including intricate eggshell sculptures, colorful Easter Egg mosaics, an Easter Egg Tree and even an Easter Egg theme park, but I had never seen something as beautiful and original as these embroidered eggs. It’s something I know I will never be able to do, but like Mary Corbett says, it’s amazing to know someone out there did do it.

I know they look pretty unbelievable, and at first glance you’d be tempted to think the embroidered motifs are done separately and glued on the eggs, but after taking a closer look you notice the holes, and realize these are real embroidered eggs. I don’t know who invented this incredible technique, but I’m pretty sure they require years of practice and a lot of patience to create. So, even though Easter 2011 is behind us, you can start practicing now, and you might just have something to brag about to your friends, next year.

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Toast Mona Lisa Mosaic Is a Labour of Loaf

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English toast artist Laura Hadland used 10,080 pieces of toasted and regular bread to create an impressive mosaic of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Remember that awesome giant toast portrait we featured a few months ago? Well, that was also Laura’s doing, and now she’s back with even more toast goodness. This time she traveled to Matera, Italy’s “City of Bread”, to create an edible replica of the famous Mona Lisa. It took a big effort on Laura’s part, because the slices of bread were larger than the 10 x 10 squares she had already printed as a blueprint, so every piece of bread had to be trimmed to size. Which wasn’t easy, since the more toasted the bread is, the more likely it is to shatter when trimmed. But her experience with toast mosaics paid off and she managed to create a delicious looking Gioconda.

The mosaic measured 9 meters by 11.2 meters and numbered 10,080 slices of bread, a combination of plain white bread, toast, and slices covered with dark and milk chocolate. It was made entirely from edible materials, in deference to the hunger caused by natural disasters in Japan. The toast Mona Lisa was made for a Japanese television show featuring the actresses who form MoriSanchu, whatever that is.

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Incredible Etch-A-Sketch Artworks by George Vlosich

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Placed in the hands of a great artist, even a children’s toy like Etch-a-Sketch can become a powerful tool able to deliver mind-blowing masterpieces. Case in point – George Vlosich

George has been drawing since he was two years old, but it wasn’t until he got his hands on an old Etch-a-Sketch, in 1989, that he discovered his unique talent. He and his family were getting ready to go on a trip to Washington D.C., when they decided to drop by grandma’s house to say goodbye. His mother found her 1960′s old Etch-a-Sketch and gave it to George and his brother, so they wouldn’t get bored in the car. The ten year old artist etched a picture of the U.S. Capitol, and when his parents saw how detailed it came out, they pulled up at a nearby gas station and took a picture of his work, before it got erased.

In the beginning, Vlosich Etched a lot of simple things like Batman, Spiderman, and pretty much anything he took interest in, and before long the Etch-a-Sketch became the favorite way of expressing his artistic talents. The more he Etched, the better he got at drawing, and the more he drew, the better he Etched. At first, his works didn’t take himvery long to complete, but the more complicated his art became, the more time he had to dedicate to them. Now, every one of his Etch-a-Sketch artworks takes him between 70 to 80 hours to finish.

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