Top 10 Works of Art That Took Over 1000 Hours


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

Lego Stadium took over 1000 hours to build

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 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

8. Pen Eagle

Sonja Scheppy

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

Tom Friedman

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

Cheese Dress

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

Jeremy Mayer Typewriter Sculpture

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—

Typewriter Sculpture Scary Face

Oh God, kill it! We don’t care that it technically isn’t alive, find a way to kill it! (

3. Embodiment: A Neon Skeleton

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.

If science teachers started using this skeleton as a teaching aid, we guarantee way more kids would pay attention (if only out of fear). (

2. Matchstick Marvels

United States Capitol Made Out of Matchsticks

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. (

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. (

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  1. This is a great list, and it’s well-written. We all know about the Statue of Liberty and the Sistine Chapel. What needs more exposure are people who build steampunk cyborgs out of old typewriters and stadiums out of Lego. People who embark on such labors of love have two crucial qualities for living happily in the soul-sucking 21st century: Iconoclastic vision and drive. More power to them!

  2. trolls! trolls! trollssss everywhere…mmmm…top ten oughta have top ten list of trolls that keep trolling the site..

    • The following questions are genuine, not an attempt to argue with you or change your mind…

      Other than the fact that Entry #7 “Soldiers of Thundera” is about cartoon characters, what about it disqualifies it as art to you?
      If the artist of Entry #7 used the same techniques he used to make “Soldiers of Thundera” to make a painting about classic characters, such as Shakespearean characters or characters from Greek/Roman mythology, or historical figures like war heroes, kings, or even other artists, would you dismiss that painting the same way that you’ve dismissed this one?

      I ask this because, while the subject of “Soldiers of Thundera” is unconventional, the level artistry that the man used to create the “Thundera” painting is not unlike the level of artistry that went into creating the drawing of the Eagle.

      Note: This is the second reply I’ve written for this comment – the other one did not show up. If the first one appears, ignore it.

  3. I agree with Peter-Where is the Sistine Chapel? And where is the Statue Of Liberty?(21 years in the making)–If the junk listed above is art than I’m the world’s top gymnast and I’m a 71-year-old disabled veteran. The TOPTENZ is obviously under new management and it’s going downhill at a fast pace.

    • Junk? I wouldn’t call any of these works of art junk – well, maybe #6, because who knows if he really did what he said he did, but I would find a more suitable word. Many people know about the Sistine chapel and the Statue of Liberty. Yes, they took a long time to complete and they are very, very impressive and deserving of recognition, but these artists deserve recognition too. If we spend all of our time putting up lists about the most well known works of art that are basically household names, how will we learn about the impressive art that is being created now? If we spend all of our time writing over and over again about artists that even school children know and are able to easily find information about, how will we learn about the artists that are worthy of that same or nearly the same level of recognition that are creating now? It’s great to spread knowledge about and recognize artists such as Michelangelo, but we can’t focus on those artists so much that the talented people that are creating here and now get pushed to the side. If you don’t like the list, that’s fine, but this list being about artists and art other than the most famous works of all time certainly doesn’t mean that it’s a bad list or that TopTenz is going downhill – it simply means that they’re looking for lesser known subjects to write about.

      • To showcase lesser known artists is fine. The above IS NOT art. Picasso was the biggest con man in history. He,himself said so. But many people are so shallow that they’re afraid to say he had zero talent (which is true) because they’re afraid they will not be thought of as sophisticated. Quite a few years ago a work of “art” hung in the New York Museum Of Art (I don’t recall what it was-some type “modern art”) but people were oohing and aahing over it until someone who knew the “artist” came along and pointed out to the curator that it had been hanging upside down. The above is worthless as ART.

        • @ Dennis. On your reply in regarding Picasso, it reminds me of a skit that was on Saturday Night Live years ago in which I couldn’t stop laughing at, but a small portion of it had some political correctness. The well known comedian / actor Jon Lovitz, who used to be a regular cast member, was portraying Picasso and sitting at an outdoor cafe having a drink. Everyone around him recognized him and would approach him and ask for his autograph. In front of Lovitz on the table he was sitting at, there was a pile of paper napkins. The people approached him one-by-one and would ask / say, “Mr. Picasso, may I have your autograph” which in turn he would say “SURE”. He would take a napkin, just scribble something on to it and hand it back while saying “Here you go, buy yourself a new Ferrari”. Another one was, “Here, get your kids a college education”. I do remember it well and laughing very hard.

        • The definition of Art: “Noun 1. The expression of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture. 2. Works produced by such skill and imagination.”
          According to those definitions, and others, all of the entries in this list are art – even entry #6 “1000 Hours of Staring”.

          First of all, I am no fan of Picasso, but the man did have talent. I am not, however talking about the works that he is most known for (although those works show talent as well). I am talking about his early work, from the time he was a student of his father to his blue period. The man was very talented.
          Secondly, the incident you mentioned where the painting was hung upside down says less about the art, and much more about the curator who hung the painting the wrong way and the people who were ooing and aahing over it – although, the painting might have been worthy of those oohs and aahs even if it was upside down.

          Art has many purposes; some delights, some informs, some saddens or angers, some uplifts, some confounds, some makes you think, and some is specifically meant to make the people who praise it look foolish.
          My point is that art is many things to many people – it can’t be nailed down to one style, one era, or a specific “worth”, and the definitions of art reflect that.
          The works above are not art to you, that is true, but they are, by definition, art. Because they meet the definition of art and took over 1000 hours to complete, they belong on this list , and that makes your assertion wrong.

        • If you think Picasso had no talent then you are truly unsophisticated and you are undermining the definition of talent.

        • Amen. I’m not personally a fan of Picasso, but to say that his work isn’t “art” reveals only one’s knee-jerk, hysterical ignorance.

  4. So where is the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo (1508-1512) and that does not include the scaffolding which he also built himself.

  5. oh God kill it! Find a way to kill it! – i dunno why, but that made me laugh so hard..(still laughin…made me nuts!)