Japan’s Mouth-Watering Plastic Food Displays

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Fancy menus may be enough for most restaurant diners around the world, but not in Japan. Here, image is everything and before going in for a bite, people want to see exactly what the food they want to order looks like. That’s where Japan’s realistic plastic food displays come into play…

Japanese fake food models can be traced back to 1917, but it wasn’t until 1926 that a restaurant owner decided to use them in a glass casing, to attract more customers. His idea was a big hit and people flocked to his venue hoping to get a serving of the delicious meals displayed outside. Soon, other restaurants followed his example and fake food display making became a lucrative business. In 1932, Iwasaki Ryuzo set up up a company that made and sold fake foods to restaurants and today it’s Japan’s top plastic food manufacturer. Business is very lucrative, as estimates show it produces revenues of billions of yen every year. For an entire menu, executed to perfection, luxury restaurants will pay up to one million yen.

In the old days, fake food models were made from wax. It was melted and pored into molds made from kanten (a seaweed jelly), but today manufacturers use silicon molds in which they pour liquid plastic and heat it up until it hardens. Modern materials and techniques apparently make the food considerably more realistic.  Restaurants send fake food makers the exact item they want replicated, along with photos. Silicon is poured around and over the disk and solidifies into a mold, which is then filled with liquid plastic and cooked in an oven. Then comes the really hard part – getting the details right. Oil based paints, regular brushes, air brushes, knives and carving tools are all part of fake food artist’s arsenal, but they all keep their techniques a secret.

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Artist Spends 10 Months Working on a Drawing

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Detailed artworks take a lot of time to complete, but American artist Joe Fenton took it to a whole new level when he decided to dedicate 10 months of his life to a single drawing.

Solitude is indeed one of the most intricate drawings I have ever seen, and knowing it’s all been done with an 0.5 mechanical pen makes it that much more impressive. Maybe you’re under the impression the artist just worked on it a few times a week, throughout the 10 months it took to complete, but in reality Joe Fenton drew on the 5 meter high and 8 foot across piece of paper for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most people would have probably given up after only a few days, but Joe showed enough confidence and patience to see it through. “It took courage to start it as I had never done anything that size before,” he told My Modern Met. “As you can imagine, you have to invest a lot of your time to complete something like this. I just had to believe in my process and have faith that it would work out!”

For Solitude, Joe Fenton created all the elements on a smaller scale than pieced it all together like a giant puzzle by tracing all the drawings on a large piece of paper. Although he isn’t a religious person, for this project he wanted to include various religious references like a “Ganesh-like character, a grinning Buddha, or a faint crucifix adorning a rooftop in the far distance.” After 10 months of work, he finished it all off with acrylic and paint.

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Man Turns His House into Renaissance-Style Masterpiece

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Robert Burns, a 63-year-old retired decorator from England, has turned the interior of his house into a modern-day Renaissance masterpiece.

After years of painting other people’s houses in boring, pastel colors, Burns got bored. He remembers thinking he had spent 15 years of his life applying the exact shade of magnolia with a paint roller, and was in desperate need of a creative outlet. One day, he bought two books about the Vatican at a car boot sale, and suddenly discovered the Italian Renaissance. Even though he had never been to Florence or Rome, he said to himself “How difficult can this be, I’m a decorator”, and that’s how it all started.

When he started working on his Renaissance interior, the self-taught artist redid his first painting three or four times because he thought it didn’t look good enough, but he soon got the hang of it and began to understand how great classics like Caravaggio or Michaelangelo did their works. While acrylics didn’t seem like the right kind of paint at the beginning, he soon learned they worked quite well if he got the technique right, and now his entire house is painted with acrylics.

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Artist Creates Writers’ Portraits in Their Own Words

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Ohio-based artist, John Sokol, has created a collection of portraits depicting some of the world’s most famous writers, using their own immortal words. Face reading takes a literal meaning when it comes to Sokol’s “Word Portraits” as he uses lines from some of their most popular works to outline their faces, and recreate lines and wrinkles. Easier said than done, I’m sure, but Mr. Sokol’s works really do their subjects’ justice.

While actually trying to read every word John Sokol uses in his works seems practically impossible, the idea of using the authors’ own words is brilliant. If you’d like a unique portrait of your favorite author, head over to John Sokol’s website and take a look at his beautiful Word Portraits. They’re well worth a few hundred bucks, if you ask me.

 

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Taiwanese Hairdresser Makes High-Heels from Human Hair

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Owner of a small hair salon in the small Taiwanese city of Taichung, Tsai Shiou-ying has recently attracted media attention with a series of original artworks made with human hair.

After winning various awards and prizes for her hair-cutting skills, the 54-year-old hairdresser decided to explore her artistic side by using discarded hair to make various works of art. She recently showed off some of her creations, including beautiful brooches, a life-size pineapple made from hair, a rat sculpture, and her pride and joy – a pair of high-heel shoes. “I personally love high heels very much, but I am flat-footed. I can only look at them and try them on, but if I buy them they will only be stored away until mold grows. I can’t wear them, so I want to make a pair of heels that I really like. This way, even if I can’t wear them, at least I created a work of art,” Tsai told Reuters.

A single pair of “hairy” high-heels takes a whole month to make, and Tsai Shiou-ying needs hair from at least three people, usually friends and neighbors. She says only real hair can be used to create her unusual artworks, as artifcial hair simply can’t handle all the heat and super glue she uses. Tsai is now planning to start work on hair dresses and corsets.

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The Wooden World of Levi van Veluw

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Dutch artist Levi van Veluw has recently 3 rooms covered with over 30,000 wooden blocks, balls and slats, as part of his last installation. Absolutely everything in the rooms, including every inch of the floor, walls, ceiling, even himself are covered in the same material – 4 square centimeters dark brown wooden blocks.

Every one of the 30,000 wooden blocks was made and glued in place by van Veluw, who also covered himself in them for his signature formal approach to self-portraiture. This unique installation, called Origins of the Beginning, is inspired by various aspects from the artist’s childhood bedroom, where he apparently spent many hours alone, between the ages of 8 and 14.

In case you’re wondering why van Veluw is burning the desk, in the video below, it’s because he had an obsession with fire, as a child.

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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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