While we may not exactly be art experts ourselves, we think it’s pretty impressive for someone to take an everyday object, something so common that some of you may even have the objects within your eyesight right now, and use it to create something extraordinary. These are a few amazing examples of people creating art out of something you may have in your pocket this very second.
10. Chewing Gum
Immediately, you may be thinking: wow, that artist’s jaw must be more muscular than a professional baseball player to have chewed enough gum to make a life sized sculpture out of gum. The good news is that the artist, Maurizio Savini, has two assistants, and they don’t chew the gum. Instead, they flatten it out using a tool called an industrial phon, which is similar to a hair dryer. While Savini now uses large sheets of gum, he used to have an assistant unwrap up to 3,000 pieces of gum and melt them down, which sounds like quite possibly one of the worst internships in artistry, just behind interning for those artists who use bodily fluid in their work.
Amazingly, Savini isn’t the only artist to use gum as their artistic medium. Other artists use it because of how malleable it is while it’s warm, making it a lot like clay. The major difference between Savini’s sculptures and other gum artists (gumists?) is that Savini preserves his sculptures with antibiotics and formaldehyde, whereas other artists like how gum only temporarily holds its structure.
Savini’s sculptures can fetch anywhere from $6,000 to $56,000.
9. Empty Ink Refills
When it comes to useless objects, empty ink refills rank right up there with an ejector seat in a helicopter. However, Indian engineer and artist Sreenivasulu M.R. uses them to make some incredible miniature replicas of real monuments.
As you can probably see for yourself, the models take a considerable amount of time and material. For the Eiffel Tower, it took 200 ink refills to complete and his most ambitious project, the Taj Mahal, used 700 pen refills. For the eight sculptures in the picture above, which includes the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal, Sreenivasulu used 4,000 pen refills.
Sreenivasulu got the idea to start using ink refills while working on a school outreach program that he developed about the environmental dangers of plastic. His message is that if he can use all these pens to make the sculptures, then there is a good chance the ink refills and other plastics like it won’t breakdown if they aren’t recycled properly.
Granted, using a pencil to create a work of art isn’t all that innovative. However, most artists draw with pencils, while Columbian-born, Miami-based artist Federico Uribe uses the physical pencil itself to create elaborate sculptures and portraits.
By altering the size of the pencils and using multiple colors, he can create unique designs that invoke depth, even on two dimensional surfaces. Of course, he also has amazing 3D sculptures, all created using pencils of different lengths and colors. Besides using pencils, Uribe also uses different colored bullets to create sculptures.
As you scrolled down that rather large landscape picture and realized that every single dot is a nail, you’re probably happy that you’re not this artist’s neighbor. The hammering would drive anyone insane. Well, the good news for his neighbors is that the artist, Taiwan-based Chen Chun-Hao, makes his amazing creations using a nail gun.
Chun-Hao doesn’t design the pictures himself. Instead, he follows a Chinese art tradition, in which a new artist can reinterpret another artist’s work if they have a deep understanding of the original master and the artist doing the copy must add something new. So Chun-Hao recreates landscapes and waterfall paintings that are about 1,000 years old.
If you’re wondering how many nails go into one of his portraits, the image above is just a small part of his rendition of the 11th century painting, Travelers Among Mountains and Streams, and to create it, he used 750,000 headless nails.
Tim Noble and Sue Webster are a pair of British artists and this picture is from their collection called Shadow Sculptures. The aptly titled work, Dirty White Trash (with Gulls), debuted in 1998 and it is a self-portrait, of sorts, of the two artists, who married in 2008 and divorced in 2013 after 20 years together. The sculpture used six months’ worth of the couple’s trash, which is about how long it took them to create the shadow sculpture.
Trash isn’t the only odd thing the pair used to make their shadow sculptures. Another notable one is called Kiss of Death. For that work, they used 34 taxidermy animals, which included six rats, one mink, eight carrion crows, eight rooks, eleven jackdaws, and animal bones.
Erika Iris Simmons doesn’t have any professional art training, but that hasn’t stopped her from creating some amazing artwork using nothing less than something most of us probably don’t have anymore – audio cassettes. Simmons says that the idea behind her collection, called The Ghost in the Machine, is that a cassette is a metaphor for the mind and the tape ribbon is the thoughts. She simply rearranges the “thoughts” to form a face, which is how she finds the ghost in the machine. Yeah, we know. Artists are weird.
Besides creating the portrait of Kurt Cobain posted above, Simmons (who uses the artist name Iri5) also has done portraits of other music legends like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and John Lennon. She’s also made portraits of movie stars, like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, using film reels.
4. Duct Tape
Duct tape is the essence of an everyday object, simply because of how versatile it is. There are plenty of artists who use it, but none of their finished works are as intricate as Japanese artist and sculptor Takahiro Iwasaki’s topographical landscapes on duct tape. Using a scalpel and taking his time, Iwasaki is able to recreate 3D landscapes of real places, like Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, into the layers in a roll of duct tape. Besides using duct tape, Iwasaki is also known for using thread, dust, towels, and toothbrushes to recreate miniature landscapes.
American artist Noah Scalin first rose to prominence in 2007 with his Skull-a-Day blog, where, as the title suggests, he created a skull every day and posted a picture of it. In 2013, he debuted his collection called Natural Selection, which was collages of famous scientists and their skulls, all using everyday objects.
In the picture above, it is Charles Darwin and his skull created out of feathers. Besides Darwin, Scalin also created a collage of Albert Einstein made from dice, Nikola Tesla created using spark plugs, and Marie Curie’s collage was built using old watch parts.
For about the last ten and a half years, American artist Mark Wagner has been using American currency to make collages. Most of the bills that Wagner uses are one dollar bills and most of the time he doesn’t keep track of how many he uses. However, for some perspective, Wagner said that for a 16-foot collage of the Statue of Liberty, he used 1,121 one dollar bills that were cut into 81,895 pieces.
At first, Wagner collages were just portraits because he liked the symbology attached to it. However, his work has since evolved and he now does famous landmarks and mythological lands and creatures.
What’s interesting is that cutting up currency is technically illegal, but Wagner says he has never run into any legal trouble. In fact, the U.S. Federal Reserve actually owns one of his pieces.
1. Coat Hangers
David Mach is a Scottish artist who has been using everyday objects, like dominoes, matchsticks, and Scrabble pieces, to create sculptures since the 1980s. However, some of the most fascinating sculptures he’s made are created using metal coat hangers. The end results are 3D sculptures that look blurry.
Mach currently holds the Guinness Book of Records for the largest art installation made from coat hangers for his Silverback sculpture, which is pictured above. The sculpture is seven feet tall, nine feet long, and five feet wide. To create it, he used 7,500 coat hangers and it took him 2,705.6 hours to complete, which means, if he worked on it for eight hours a day, it would have taken him 338 days to finish.
Besides the giant gorilla, some of his other coat hanger sculptures include Jesus on the cross, Mickey Mouse, and a very Hannibal-esque elk.