Incredible Key Art ay the Coolest Locksmith Shop in New York

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Greenwich Locksmiths, one of the oldest locksmith shops in New York City, stands out with its unusual facade art made of thousands of used keys.

The incredible facade was designed and executed by Phil Mortillaro, owner of Greenwich Locksmith and an expert when it comes to cracking safes. He opened up shop in the West Village back in 1968, and as his shop became famous, he once considered redesigning his common-looking headquarters to look like an impressive classic American building. He got all the approvals he needed, but decided not to go through with the idea, for fear his locksmith shop would have looked more like a Disney World attraction. Instead, he decided to make his workplace unique by decorating it with discarded keys.

Seen from a distance, the patterns on the Greenwich Locksmiths facade look like a bunch of spirals and squiggles, but as soon as you get a little closer and notice the whole thing is covered with tens of thousands of keys, you realize just how impressive it really is. Mr. Mortlillaro created this unique work of art by himself, last October, and his shop – reputed as one of the best in the business – is getting a lot more attention.

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The Mind Blowing Pull Tab Sculptures of Herman Divers

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Herman Divers, also known as the master of pull-tab engineering, is known for creating impressive sculptures exclusively out of aluminum pull tabs.

Environmentalists have always preached about the need to recycle metals like aluminum, and Topeka based Herman Divers is one of the few people who listened and decided to do something about it. Using old-fashioned pull tabs that were found on beer and soda cans in the 1970s, he created impressive artworks that are now on display at the Grassroot Art Center, in Kansas.

A retired hospital handyman, Divers developed a unique affinity for pull tabs in the early 1980s, when he asked the hospital’s  snack bar attendant to save them for him. “I told her I was going to make a beadspread and she thought I was crazy” Divers remembers about his early days as a pull-tab artist. But he was on to something, because unlike the modern pull tab, the old-fashioned one had a extension that could be wrapped/bent to secure it to another one. Using this process and without any glue or steel reinforcement, Herman Divers spent many of his nights working on some of the most incredible pull-tab artworks I have ever seen.

His unique collection of pull-tab sculptures include replicas of a Harley Davidson motorcycle (made from 179, 200 pull-tabs) and a classic automobile, a set of costumes for him and his wife, as well as pieces of pull-tab furniture. When old pull-tabs became obsolete, Divers started working with bottle caps and buttons creating more beautiful creations, but his aluminum wonders remained his signature works.

And to think it all began with his simple credo “I just figure you can’t get into too much trouble when you’re working”.

 

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Woman Makes Giant Penny Sculpture Using 84,000 Pennies

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Wander Martich, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, spent three months working on a giant penny sculpture made of 84,000 common pennies.

The story of how an average woman managed to create this unique artwork began in 2006, when Martich and her family were going through a really tough time. She had just got divorced, lost her house to foreclosure and was an unemployed mother of two daughters, aged 6 and 9. She was literally saving every penny and her girls pitched in the contents of their piggy bank, to help out in these troubled times. The pennies ended up in a plastic water jug, and even after Wander finally found a job, she took $20 from every paycheck, changed them into pennies and kept filling up the water jug.

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Artist Makes Imperial Walker Sculpture from Recycled Computer Parts

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Etsy artist TGNSmith has created a realistic replica of the iconic Imperial Walker out of various recycled computer parts and other scrap metal pieces.

The main body of the Star Wars AT-AT is made of power supply boxes from old computers, its head is made of floppy disk shelves, and the legs and feet from other scrap metal components. The one-foot-high and over one-foot-long sculpture was covered with two coats of galvanizing primer, followed by a coat of gray paint and finished off with two layers of protective gloss. The walker was also “attacked” with a welding arc that gave it those nice battle scars.

Weighing about 15 pounds, this miniature Imperial Walker has some sharp edges and corners and should not be used as a plaything for children. Star Wars fanboys can take it off TGNSmith‘s hands for only $450.

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Designer Creates World’s First Rocking Piano

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Chichi the rocking piano was designed by Sarah Davenport as a way of strengthening the relationship between the pianist and piano, and is unique in the world. Apparently, the rocking motion creates a perfect harmony that allows the piano player to completely get lost in the music, ignoring the world around. At least that’s how Sarah says it makes her feel, and she’s been playing piano since she was just three years old, so I guess we can take her word for it. At some events, pianists have been known to get so immersed in the music and the rocking that they kept playing for hours on end.

Chichi has been around for three years now, and after being featured in prestigious venues like the London Design Festival and The Nottingham Contemporay Art Gallery, Sarah decided it’s time to find it a proper home. She auctioned it off, at the end of January, and I’m sure it sold for a pretty hefty sum.

Ms. Davenport has already been approached by some of the biggest names in the music industry, to create more rocking pianos, each of which will be custom made, but she says there will never be another Chichi.

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The Upcycled Robotic Wonders of Ann P. Smith

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Ann P. Smith is a famous American artist who uses broken electronics and machine parts to create unique robotic sculptures.

A resident of Providence, Rhode Island, Ann P. Smith graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she first got the inspiration for her unique art. She had received an assignment to create a three-dimensional technology illustration , but she was completely stumped until she saw a heap of junk with a telephone on top, which she used to create a horse sculpture. This won her great reviews and kickstarted her career as an upcycling artist.

The mechanical menagerie Ann created throughout the years contains a wide range of intricate creatures – goats, birds, jellyfish, lizards, etc – all made from computer components, discarded cell phones and various other salvaged scraps. Each creation has a unique personality reflected by the carefully chosen materials it’s made of, and is labeled by a line of keyboard keys.

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Desiree Palmen – The Real Life Invisible Woman

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You’ve probably already seen photos of Liu Bolin – the real life invisible man, now it’s time you met Desiree Palmen, the invisible woman.

Just like the famous Chinese artist we’ve featured before, Desiree Palmen is a master of the camouflage who manages to perfectly blend into the background. She first takes photos of the scene she wants to blend into, and then spends hour in her Rotterdam studio painstakingly painting cotton suites to best simulate the scenery. Then she or another person puts on the suit and poses in the selected place. Although her patience and painting skill are amazing, Desiree remains modest and says it’s never perfect, but she likes people can actually see it’s a person in a suit and not a digitally altered image.

The 46-year-old artist says her work was inspired by the increasing use of “Big Brother” surveillance in everyday life and man’s wish to simply disappear. Ms. Palmen also says people react differently when seeing her artworks, some are confused others are surprised, but they all seem very interested in the idea.

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It’s Simply Amazing What a Man Can Do with a Single Toothpick

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San Francisco-based artist Steven J. Backman uses simple toothpicks to create the most incredible artworks.

Steven’s fascination for toothpick art can be traced back to his elementary school days, when he used toothpicks and beans to create a project of DNA molecules. Unfortunately, after accidentally getting a toothpick stuck in his palm, he had to quit his favorite hobby. But, even though he didn’t practice it anymore, his passion for building toothpick models stuck with him all the way through university, when he started to give it another shot. In 1984, he decided to build a replica of a San Francisco cable cart, from toothpicks and glue, as a way to show his appreciation the iconic landmarks. Soon after, he established his toothpick art company, “Landmarks of San Francisco”, which he still operates today.

Throughout the years, Steven J. Backman has created some truly impressive toothpick sculptures and replicas, from a 10,000 toothpick electric powered radio-controlled yacht and a 30,000 toothpick replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, acquired by Ripley’s Believe or Not. I promise to cover all of his incredible artworks in the future, but I thought his one toothpick wonders deserved a full post of their own.

I’ve stared at his miniature masterpieces for a while now and I still can’t wrap my head around how he managed to reproduce all these famous landmarks in such fine detail, using a single toothpick, some glue and tweezers. His mini models are under two inches long and take anywhere from a a few hours to a few months to complete, and some of them currently hold the Guinness Record for the world’s smallest replica. One thing is for sure, Steven’s favorite motto – “The Essence of Patience” – best describes the time and effort that goes into his work.

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Artist Turns Insects into Fashionable Pieces of Jewelry

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The “Living Jewels” created by Etsy artist aquakej are made from real colorful insects collected from all around the world.

Insect art is definitely not for everyone, but if the mere thought of bugs doesn’t make your skin crawl, you might actually consider wearing one of these unusual accessories. The Insects come from various insect farms that provide a healthy and eco-friendly living for people in developing countries, so you don’t have to feel guilty about wearing insect species into extinction.

Here’s what aquakej has to say about her rather creepy collection of insect jewelry:

Insect Art is made of real insects from around the world. They come to me dried out and all folded up. I re-hydrate them to make them flexible again, and then spread them out on a styrofoam board with sewing pins and little strips of paper. I do not put any pins through the bodies of my insects; I like them natural-looking and lifelike. This makes the insects a bit more difficult to handle, but the end result is worth it. Lastly, I choose an art background for the shadowbox frame and glue the insects onto that. The whole process takes several days, and each end result is unique.

Unique is right, but I’m not sure I’d willingly have these creepy crawlies on my body, but if you like them, you can check the artist’s shop and official site.

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Unique Matchstick Furniture Made in the USSR

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Many people don’t realize it when they first walk into Roman Yerokhin‘s apartment, but many of his beautiful pieces of furniture are decorated with some of the most unusual materials – burnt matchsticks and broken tiles.

But as soon as they sit at the large monolithic table in his kitchen and notice its decorative patterns are actually made from thousands of burned matchsticks, their jaws instantly hit the floor and then the questions start. The first thing that pops into their heads is that his family used these common materials because they were poor, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Roman says his ancestors were wealthy jewelers before the communists came to power, and even during their regime, his parents made a decent living as graphic artists. The main reason they resorted to matchsticks as decorations is that any other materials were scarce, and having lived under a communist rule myself, I know just what he means. Communism put a roof over your head, provided you with a job and put some food on the table, but it did absolutely no toleration for exercising cultural and spiritual freedom.

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The Dried Citrus Sculptures of Daniel Watson

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They say idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so inmate Daniel Watson tries to keep busy by creating these beautiful sculptures out of dried citrus.

I stumbled across Daniel Watson’s unique creations while reading Accidental Mysteries (the coolest outsider art blog I know) and they immediately caught my eye. They may look like ancient artifacts, but they’re really just dried citrus skins carved by Daniel, in his spare time. He’s serving a life sentence in a California penitentiary, so he’s got lots of time on his hands…

Described as “hovering somewhere between Pre-Columbian and alien,” Daniel Watson’s dried citrus skin sculptures have been sold at various art auctions. The two artworks below were created in 1998, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any of his more recent creations. If anyone knows anything more about the artist and his work, please share with the rest of us.

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Designer Creates Functional Sofa Out of 8,000 Chopsticks

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Sofa_XXXX is the creation of German designer Yuya Ushida, is a unique expandable sofa made from 8,000 wooden chopsticks.

Showcased during the Designers Fair at the IMM Cologne 2011 exhibition, Sofa_XXXX attracted a lot of attention because of the unusual medium Ushida used, and its ingenious folding mechanism. The expandable and retractable sofa was created from 8,000 wooden chopsticks, individually cut to four different lengths and sanded to just the right angle, connected with metal rings and plastic joints. German-based designer Yuya Ushida spent three months working on the Sofa_XXXX project, but the stunning end result was definitely worth the effort.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this one-of-a-kind chopstick sofa is that it can actually support up to three 70-kg-heavy people at any one time.

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The Eco-Friendly Junk Mail Portraits of Sandhi Schimmel Gold

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Using a technique she calls Acrylic Mosaic Fusion, artist Sandhi Schimmel Gold takes junk mail and other paper waste and turns it into beautiful portraits.

Phoenix-based Sandhi Schimmel Gold has been fascinated by art for as long as she can remember. In her youth, she spent most of her days sitting quietly in the bedroom, drawing, and she remembers cutting school to spend her days in museums and art galleries around New York City. Although she studied art in school, Sandhi says she is pretty much self taught, and most of her works are influenced by her extensive travels.

The artist first felt inspired to create mosaic portraits years ago, when she was in Venice, Italy. She saw a portrait made of small colorful glass fragments ans since it was to heavy to transport home, by train, Sandhi decided to create one just like it. After a period of trial and error using glass and tile, she decided to change her art medium to ephemera.

Now, using upcycle junk mail, post cards, photos, calendars and other paper junk together with water-based, non-toxic paint, Sandhi Schimmel Gold creates the most amazing mosaic portraits. She doesn’t use any kind of technology or dies in her art; everything is hand-cut, hand-applied, hand-embellished and hand-finished. “My vision is to create beautiful yet thought-provoking images of beauty” says Sandhi, and she manages to do it by using paper waste most people throw away.

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The Wonderful World of Japanese Manhole Cover Art

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Found across nearly 95% of Japan’s 1,780 municipalities, custom manhole covers have become an important part of national culture.

The history of manhole cover art can be traced back to the 1980s, when cities began making custom covers with designs inspired by the region’s cultural identity (mythology, history, culture, etc.). Every one of the over 6,000 custom manhole cover across Japan reflects the uniqueness of each city, keeping true to the country’s reputation for aesthetic sense.

Have a look at some of the most beautiful custom manhole covers spotted across Japan:

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The Bottle Cap Portraits of Molly B. Right

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Molly B. Right is a brilliant self-taught artist, from Charleston, South Carolina, who uses discarded bottle caps to create incredible portraits.

She began creating bottle cap portraits back in 1993, when she started pondering the phrase “Jesus Saves”. Saves what? – Molly asked – Does he just save souls, or if he had the time, would he also save things like string or rubber bands? Does he save bottle caps? And that’s when she took this question and turned it into a full size portrait of Jesus. “Now I’m doing bottle cap portraits of archetypal women that don’t have anything to do with Jesus saving anything. Now I’m the one who is saving bottle caps.” Molly says in the artist statement on her official site.

The process of creating bottle cap portraits begins with a painted portrait on a sheet of metal. Molly then glues the vintage bottle caps in an overlapping pattern, sort of like scales on a snake. She pays great attention to details, making sure there are no visible glue traces, and using several transparent washes of glaze to define her portraits even further.

The bottle caps Molly B. Right uses for her beautiful portraits are considered collectibles on their own, since all of them date from the 30′s to the 70′s.

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