Great art takes time. Da Vinci worked on the Mona Lisa for four years. Each list here at TopTenz is handcrafted over a period of months by elite list writing artisans deep in the Swiss Alps. And while the following works aren’t as illustrious, they all required at least 1000 hours of labour from their creators. Judge for yourself if they were worth the effort:
10. A Lego Replica of Ohio Stadium
The day we outgrow Lego is the day our childhood ends. For a few special people, that day never comes. They just move on to bigger projects, like this 1/1000 scale replica of Ohio Stadium.
You’re looking at Paul Janssen and over a million pieces of Lego. His pet project was completed over the course of two years and countless trips to the Lego store. While the size is impressive, it’s the detail that’s truly astounding. From the scoreboard to the pipes leading into the bathroom, this really does look like a place where little Lego men could run around and play football to the adoring cheers of a Lego crowd. Which has probably happened, because there’s no way Janssen could go to this much trouble and then resist the urge to act out a game.
Janssen achieved this level of accuracy by studying satellite images and tons of his own photos. The stadium rests in his basement, a testament to the creative power of Lego and the crazy obsessiveness of college football fans.
9. 1000 Hour Exposures
Michael Chrisman is a photographer who does things old school—pinhole camera old school. Pinholes require longer exposure times than modern cameras, which snap shots in fractions of a second. Chrisman widened that gap further by taking photos with 1000 hour exposures.
So for Pete’s sake, don’t put your thumb over the lens.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, for comedic purposes), that doesn’t mean Chrisman has to stand perfectly still for days on end, holding his camera and praying he doesn’t sneeze. He mounts the cameras and comes back over a month later to retrieve his photo (assuming the camera is still there).
It’s not exactly a lot of work compared to most entries on this list, but it’s a cool idea. And in an age where you can’t go a day without a friend showing you a dozen crappy Instagrams of their breakfast, it’s nice to see someone slow photography down a little. (Interview with photographer at mascontext.com.)
8. Pen Eagle
You’re probably wondering how this painting could have taken 1000 hours. Sure, it looks nice, but it’s nothing special. What’s the big deal? Did the artist, Sonja Scheppy, draw it with her feet or something? The truth is even more impressive—she drew this with a ballpoint pen.
This otherwise generic piece looks a lot more impressive when you realise it was crafted with the same tool we used to draw penises on our junior high school notebooks. We’re not quite sure why Scheppy decided to use a pen, but we have to admire her dedication and patience. We would have given up and reverted to our dick-doodling ways after about 20 minutes.
7. Soldiers of Thundera
If you were a child of the 80s, you watched ThunderCats. And today, you’re too overcome by nostalgia to admit that it was actually pretty dumb. Our determination to insist that schlock from our childhood was rad results in epic projects like the one pictured above.
That’s Soldiers of Thundera, by artist Robert Burden. It’s a massive painting, coming in at 72 x 132 inches. If you’re having trouble getting a sense of scale, check out this time lapse video of its creation:
Yup, Burden decided to spend seven months painting something taller than him in tribute to a silly cartoon. In the days before the Internet that would have made him clinically insane, but today it makes him a hero. Let’s hope this ends up in a gallery one day, so we can stand amongst a bunch of snooty art types and belt out, “ThunderCats, ho!”
6. 1000 Hours of Staring
Not every 1000 hour work is a masterpiece. You’re looking at a blank piece of paper, which is a waste of time. Unless you look at it for 1000 hours—then you’re an artist, apparently.
That’s how long sculptor Tom Friedman stared at it. Why, you ask? Well, the New York Times suggests it’s a commentary on “the intense visual scrutiny that all successful artists expend on their work, the long hours of looking, looking, looking in order to figure out how to make it better.” We think it’s because Tom Friedman is screwing with us.
As evidence, we present the fact that there’s no way to verify Friedman’s claim. For all we know, he could have thought this whole thing up in 30 seconds when he realised he had a blank wall in an exhibit. And that would be less ridiculous than if he was telling the truth. This is why people make fun of modern art, Tom. The only people who have accomplished less in 1000 hours are World of Warcraft players.
5. Cheese Dresses
Making fashionable clothing takes time. When that clothing is made out of cheese it takes even more time, and that’s not even including all the trips to the psychologist you’re no doubt taking.
The vegetarian alternatives to Lady Gaga’s meat dress (which served as an inspiration), a group of students used three different types of cheeses to make dresses, shoes and even a purse.
They showcase both the ingenuity and the future unemployment of their creators, as these are perfect for a high society gala at a dairy farm and literally nothing else. Seriously, they’re neat and all, but is it really worth putting 1000 hours of work into something that’s going to start molding in a week? Although if you’re at a party where the food sucks you can nibble on your shoulder, so they’ve got that going for them.
4. Recycled Typewriter Sculptures
Hey old people, remember typewriters? Do you ever wonder what happened to them all? Most probably just ended up in the trash, but Jeremy Mayer got his hands on a bunch and used them to create metallic monsters.
Yikes! It looks like a silent movie terminator. A figure like this takes Mayer 1000 hours to complete, although some of that time has to be spent cowering in fear of the unholy abominations he’s brought into the world.
We don’t mean to deny that these are impressive works of art, because they are. The amount of detail, and the effort that must have gone them, is remarkable. We’re just saying that they look like something that would come alive and strangle us in our sleep.
Ah, but we’re exaggerating for comedic purposes, of course. We don’t really think that—
Oh God, kill it! We don’t care that it technically isn’t alive, find a way to kill it! (jeremymayer.com)
3. Embodiment: A Neon Skeleton
You know those cheap plastic skeletons that hang in science classrooms around the world? Here’s what they’d look like if they were taken to the extreme.
As badass as it would be to make a dead body glow, this skeleton is actually made of glass tubes full of ionized krypton gas. Sculptor Eric Franklin worked on this project/sweet addition to any rave for two years. Each of the hundreds of glass seals had to be flawless, or the gas would become contaminated and flicker out.
2. Matchstick Marvels
If you’re like us, you often find yourself passing through Gladbrook, Iowa, without a clue about what to do there. Well, wonder no more: go check out the Matchstick Marvels museum, and be amazed.
That’s a 1/65 scale model of the United States Capitol, made from 478,000 matchsticks. It and the museum’s other creations were built by craftsman Patrick Acton, presumably because he couldn’t find anything else to do in Gladbrook.
His other works include the space shuttle Challenger, which took a mere 200,000 matches. It’s an impressive piece of construction, albeit in slightly questionable taste to use fire-starting materials to recreate a vehicle that exploded.
And for the nerds, here’s a 420,000 matchstick recreation of Minas Tirith. (Please don’t start a debate about its accuracy in the comments section.)
Thank you, Patrick Acton, for both your wonderful creations and for single-handedly keeping the matchstick industry afloat. (matchstickmarvels.com)
1. Rolling Through the Bay
Not every artist can work in a medium as esoteric as matchsticks. Scott Weaver, for example, is more of a toothpick man. And after gathering over 100,000 of them, presumably by eating at restaurants and abusing the hell out of the free toothpick privilege on his way out, he built San Francisco.
If that doesn’t impress you, check out a video of it in action. Also, lower your standards a little, jerk.
The sculpture has several “tours,” which are tracks for ping pong balls that roll them past iconic San Fran neighborhoods and landmarks. Weaver has been working on this project for over 35 years, and he continues to add new locales and tours.
So forget 1000 hours—Weaver estimates he’s put in at least 3000. He better get a key to the city out of this. (rollingthroughthebay.com)