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Italian Architect Builds Fantastic Airships That Actually Fly

Luigi Prina might be 83 years old, but he still has the imagination of a child. The Italian architect’s studio is filled with miniature flying ships of all shapes and sizes, suspended from the ceiling with nylon strings. And here’s the special part – some of the ships really do fly. When Luigi twists the propeller and lets the toys go, they whizz around the room in loops and circles.

Luigi has been obsessed with ships ever since he can remember. He began building model ships at a very young age. When he was 16, he won a national aircraft modeling competition. The judges were particularly impressed by his superior craftsmanship – and also his age. “When I went to collect my prize, they asked me: ‘Why didn’t your father come to collect his prize?’ ‘What do you mean my father, I am Luigi Prina!’ They were quite upset by this,” said Luigi.

But it wasn’t until 50 years had passed that Luigi was inspired to make his model ships fly. “I met Eugenio Tomiolo, a Venetian painter and boat builder,” he said. “And then I said to him: ‘Do you want to bet that I can make the boats fly for you?’ And I made the first boat. I made it fly in his studio. He had painted his ceiling like a sky with clouds. When the ship began to go around the ceiling it seemed as if the clouds were moving.”

Luigi-Prina-airships

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The Amazing Rice Grain Artworks of Chen Forng-Shean

Taiwanese artist Chen Forng-Shean uses little things like grains of rice and sand to create awe-inspiring miniature artworks. The self-taught artist spends up to several months in front of a magnifying glass, working on a single piece.

Chen Forng-Shean has gained international recognition for his amazing talent of making incredible works of art out of the simplest and tiniest things, but the 58-year-old Taiwanese wasn’t always a miniature artist. Although he had an interest in the arts from a very young age and developed an interest in drawing and calligraphy, after his military service Chen got a job at the Central Engraving and Printing Plant, a division of Central Bank of China. It wasn’t a dream job, but it introduced him to various engraving tools he would later use in his artistic career. Each day after work, for 10 years, Chen Forng-Shean ran into his art studio, located on the second floor of his house, where he would work on his miniatures. Since miniature making was a disappearing art, he had no masters to consult with and learn from, so he had to not only develop his own tools and techniques, but also his very own style. It was a painstaking and time-consuming practice, but Chen slowly started to create amazing works of art, and the world began to notice.

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Jeweler Creates Mechanical Creepy Crawlers from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs

JM Gershenson-Gates is a Chicago-based jeweler who creates unique accessories from discarded watch parts, in a bid “to show the beauty of the mechanical world, a place generally hidden from the public behind metal and glass.”

On his website, Jason Gershenson-Gates says he has always been fascinated with mechanical things. The son of a “gearhead”, and the grandson of a railroad man, he used to always take apart his toys to see how they worked, but never seemed to be able to put them back together again. Nowadays, he takes apart old watches collected from all over the world and rearranges their parts into fantastic designs. Although his Mechanical Mind jewelry series is nothing short of awe-inspiring, in both size and design, it’s his latest series of mechanical insects that caught my eye. The idea of making miniature arthropods and insects out of watch parts and dead automotive light bulbs apparently came to him recently, after a jewelry show this past summer. He was experimenting with watch part anatomy when he decided to create fragile spider and insect legs. One thing led to another, and now Jason has an entire menagerie of incredibly detailed mechanical creepy crawlers.

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New York Giants Fan Creates Breathtaking Replica of Football Team’s Old Stadium

Don Martini, a 75-year-old fan of the New York Giants has taken his devotion for his favorite football team to a whole new level. The Blairstown-native spent the last two years and $20,000 building an astonishing replica of the Giant’s old stadium in his garage.

The crazy idea came to Don in the middle of the night. The next morning, he got up and told his wife “I’m going to build Giants Stadium”, but all he got out of her was “You’re crazy!” But not even she thought he would be crazy enough to actually go through with it. The truth is, Don Martini was in search of a new project. After turning his backyard into a miniature village complete with an elevated rail for model trains, a working windmill and a lighthouse, the man was looking for a new challenge, something bigger than everything he had created in the past. He decided to combine his love for the New York Giants with his passion for building stuff, so he actually started work on this astonishing model of the football team’s stadium.

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Italian Sculptor Creates Miniature Colosseum from 10,000 Corks

61-year-old Ciro Califano, from Italy’s Nocera Inferiore, is one of the world’s most incredible artists, with the power to turn corks into beautiful works of art.

A former postal worker, who lived most his life traveling between Milan, Naples and Nocera, Ciro Califano has always had artistic ambitions. Even as a child, growing up in the Italian countryside, he always dreamed of exercising his talents and leaving his mark on the art world. And ten years ago, after his sons opened a local restaurant called “Cantina del Vescovo”(Bishop’s Cellar), he finally decided to exploit his gift as a sculptor. The fast accumulation of wine bottle corks was just the right pretext, and before he knew it, Ciro was creating cork miniature replicas of ancient wonders like the Roman aqueduct in Nimes, France, the Saracen Tower, the Church of Monte Albino, and many others.

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The Miniature Origami Wonders of Anja Markiewicz

Regular size origami is just impossible to me, so I guess that’s why I find these nano-paper-wonders created by Anja Markiewicz simply fascinating.

We’ve featured some pretty impressive examples of origami, including the paper miniatures of Mui-Ling Teh, and the miniatures Anja Markiewicz creates are a welcome addition to our collection. She painstakingly folds almost invisible pieces of paper into beautiful origami artworks only a few millimeters in size. The fragile animals born from her hands – horses, dogs, swans and others – can rest on her fingertips and require a magnifying glass in order to be fully appreciated.

Her vast portfolio of origami artworks includes animals, fairytale creatures, cars, snowflakes, flowers and lots more. I’ve posted a selection of her most beautiful works but you can check out her entire collection on Flickr.

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Ukrainian Artist Creates the Most Amazing Wooden Miniature Bikes

We’ve featured some pretty awesome motorcycle miniatures, in the past, but few were as incredibly detailed as young Vyacheslav Voronovich’s wooden masterpieces.

The Lvov-based artist dreamed of owning a motorcycle ever since he was just a kid, and rode his first one in the seventh grade. At the same time he was always interested in hand-made miniatures, and developed a passion for woodcarving. So even though he couldn’t afford to buy himself a real motorcycle, he discovered he could create his own perfect wooden replicas.

The idea of making his first 1:12 scale wooden motorcycle first came to Vyacheslav a year and a half ago, and it quickly turned into a hobby. He was inspired by some other motorcycle miniatures he had seen online, and wanted to see if he could make his own, from wood. In the beginning, he had some doubts he could actually pull it off, but after figuring out what kind of wood to use for each component, things started going smoothly. He finished his first bike and noticed that every new one he created looked better than the last.

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Metropolis II – The World’s Coolest Miniature Car Circuit

Every little boy who has ever owned a Hot Wheels miniature car remembers how fun those things were to play with, whether you owned a circuit track or not. Artist Chris Burden has spent the last four years working on Metropolis II, an awe-inspiring miniature car circuit that will spark the interest of even the most mature grownup.

It’s called Metropolis II because Chris built another cool Hot Wheels circuit back in 2004, but compared to his first one, this latest project is superior in every way. It really lives up to its name, measuring an impressive 10-feet-tall by 28-feet-long and featuring 13 toy tracks and a gigantic car circuit with 18 lanes, winding around in a loop, around 30-40 skyscrapers. There are a total of 1,100 modified cars moving around Metropolis II, at any given time. Chris and his team inserted a small magnet on the underside of each car, so when they reach one of the circuit’s three conveyor belts, which also have magnets placed underneath, they get picked up and transported to a high point from where they are released and flow away.

According to Chris Burden, Metropolis II is ten times bigger than the original Metropolis and was conceived as a miniature representation of Los Angeles. Just recently completed, Metropolis II has already been sold for millions of dollars, but Burden says is also cost millions to complete and refine. Over the next few months it will be taken apart and properly packed in steel cages, where the parts shouldn’t move more than a 32nd of an inch, in order to keep everything running smoothly.

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Hungarian Collector Shows Off World’s Smallest Library

Jozsef Tari has been collecting miniature books since 1972, and is now the proud owner of over 4,500 literary works, including the world’s smallest book (2.9 x 3.2 mm).

A printer by trade, Tari has always been fascinated by the written word, and in 1972 he began collecting miniature books. Most of the items in his collection are in Hungarian, but he also has quite a few from the US, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Indonesia and Japan. Ironically, he only has a few books from the countries neighboring Hungary. As far as topics are concerned, Jozsef Tari is interested in everything from religion to sports, literature and even cooking, but he only collects books that are 76 mm in size, or smaller. His collection features books that are over 100 years old, but his most prized miniature is the world’s smallest book – it measures only 2.9 x 3.2 millimeters and fits into a nutshell.

Apart from the 4,500 books in his collection, Tari also has 15 kinds of miniature newspapers, including the smallest in the world, which measures only 19 x 26 mm.

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Incredible Miniatures Carved from Matchsticks

Artists have been using matchsticks as a medium for their art for a while now. Some use thousands of matches to create amazing wooden models, others use them to create colorful sculptures, or decorate their homes in a unique way, but I’ve never seen detailed matchstick miniature sculptures before.

I saw some interesting photos of carved matchsticks last week, while surfing the interwebs for unique art to share with you guys, but I couldn’t find any info on the artist who made them. Unfortunately, the research I conducted following my find didn’t prove very successful. All I learned is they are created using fine tools like scalpels and other specialized instruments, and that they’re mostly made by artists from South American countries like Chile, Argentina and Brazil. A miniature matchstick sculpture takes around three hours to complete and it’s then placed inside a small glass cover, for protection.

Among the most famous matchstick sculptors, I’ve found Christian Hernandez, who focuses of Greek mythology themes, and Argentinian Javier Gobai, whose detailed works you can admire in the photos below:

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The Wristwatch Motorcycles of Jose Geraldo Reis Pfau

Talented Brazilian artist Jose Geraldo Reis Pfau creates beautiful motorcycle miniatures using only parts from old wristwatches.

Pfau’s passion for motorcycles began in the 1960’s. He owned various types of motorcycles, some of them modified and inspired by the movie “Easy Rider”. But the artist born and raised in Blumenau, Santa Catarina was also fascinated by the arts, and it was only natural that his artistic talent and passion for bikes combine in a unique project. At first, he developed several motorcycle images, but after reading about artists who created motorcycle miniatures out wood, pottery, wire and other materials, he decided to make similar artworks, out of a completely new medium – wristwatches.

The time pieces that inspired Jose Geraldo Reis Pfau’s creations were collected with a help of a friend who happened to own a wristwatch shop. Through an advertising campaign, clients were encouraged to give their old watches as a first installment on the purchase of a new one. This provided the artist with the necessary materials to experiment and create his unique wristwatch motorcycles.

Although Pfau only creates his art during the weekends, he has a collection of hundreds of motorcycles made exclusively from wristwatch components. They have been showcased at jewelry fairs and art exhibitions throughout Brazil and several other countries.

 

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The Microchip Paintings of Yuri Zupancic

American artist Yuri Zupancic creates unique microchip paintings that reflect how the “Smaller and Faster” catchphrase has replaced “Bigger and Better” in our everyday lives.

Yuri’s paintings cover a wide range of subjects, from animals and insects to humans and plants, but usually seeks poetic images that raise questions when painted on microchips. He sees his works as an attempt to broaden our perspective of modern electronics and acknowledge their position as extensions of the mind and its sentimental qualities”.

The size of these miniature masterpieces is most often less than a square inch, so paint is applied with very small brushes that the artist makes using his own eyelashes. As you can imagine, Zupancic’s microchip paintings are hard to fully appreciate with the naked eye, so magnifying glasses are supplied wherever they are exhibited.

 

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The Miniature Wonders of Ave Maria Grotto

The Ave Maria Grotto is a four-acre park featuring 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most important Christian buildings and shrines, located in Cullman, Alabama.

Known as “Jerusalem in Miniature” this wonderful attraction was built from concrete, stone and seashells, by Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of the nearby St. Bernard Abbey. Joseph was born in Germany, in 1878 and nearly lost his life to a flu epidemic that swept around Europe. He emigrated to the USA as a teenager, and settled in Alabama, where a freak accident left him scoliosis and a back injury. That’s probably the reason he decided to join the newly opened Benedictine monastery of Cullman. He took his vows at the age of nineteen and was put in charge of the monastery’s powerhouse.

It was around this time Brother Joseph began tinkering with stones, leftover cement and other junk he found outside the powerhouse. He would build Bible scenes from old ink bottles and rusted birdcages, and his handiwork soon attracted the attention of Father Dominic, who asked him to make two miniature grottoes for him to sell and raise money for the abbey. The artworks were so impressive they sold immediately, so what Joe though was just a one time deal turned into a regular business, and he ended up creating over 5,000 grottoes.

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The Microscopic Marvels of Vladimir Aniskin

Vladimir Aniskin is one of the few people in the world who can create microscopic artworks so tiny they fit on half a poppy seed.

The 33-year-old scientist, who works at the Syberian branch of the Russian Academy of Science, in Tyumen, has been practicing microminiature art since 1998, and devotes several months to completing a single piece. Over the years, he has learned to work in between heartbeats, which gives him about half a second to do a controlled movement before his hand shakes. “While working I hold my creation in my fingers. Even one’s heartbeat disturbs such minute work, so particularly delicate work has to be done between heartbeats.” Vladimir says.

His miniature masterpieces are created using powerful microscopes and a set of tools he himself designed, and to fully appreciate the fine detail of his art, one also needs a microscope. That’s because some of his works are measured in microns. Aniskin’s amazing portfolio includes a grain of rice inscribed with 2,027 letters, which took three months to complete, a caravan of camels in the eye of a needle, and a Christmas scene on a thin horse hair.

The following photos don’t do Vladimir Aniskin’s work justice, but if you’re ever in St. Petersburg, you can admire 80 of his microscopic wonders at the first Russian museum of micro-miniatures – The Russian Lefty.

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

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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