9 Mind-Blowing Pieces of Art Made With Ridiculous Materials
Let's face it -- we've all tried to build a house of cards or make a sand castle at some point in our lives, but most of us get bored within a few minutes and give up. For others it may take an hour, or maybe even a few days... and there are those who devote their lives to making hugely pointless yet amazing things out of small, ridiculous materials.
Such as ...
A Fully Livable LEGO House
It's no surprise that people can build some amazing things out of Legos. We're pretty sure all those replicas of important buildings they have in their theme parks will come in pretty handy when evolution inevitably turns us all into smurfs.
A re-enactment of Roosevelt's inauguration, in which he claimed he was "knee-deep in bitches."
However, some individuals have taken their obsession with tiny plastic bricks even further ... and some even manage to make a living off of it. For instance, Nathan Sawaya is a world-renowned Lego sculptor who not only sells his statues for thousands of dollars, but also exhibits them in museums around the globe. For the right price, he can make a life size Lego sculpture of anything -- including you.
If you looked like an 80s computer game character.
But perhaps the greatest feat of Lego architecture of all time was the one thought up by British television presenter James May. May enlisted the help of architects, interior designers and hundreds of people with way too much free time to build a two story house made out of 6 MILLION Lego bricks ...
"Wine is on the table," he called out to them. Their crotches burned with Lego anticipation.
"Let me slip into something more comfortable," he said, returning in a Lego thong.
... and then proceeded to live in it for 24 hours. But wait -- how did he take care of, uhh, certain basic necessities in a house made entirely out of Lego? Easy: thanks to the running water connected to his Lego sink and Lego toilet.
Also, the fact that he doesn't mind pooping on toys.
Despite the fact that an art expert valued the house at $750,000, no one was willing to buy such an exquisite piece of live-in artwork, for some reason. It has since been dismantled and presumably, those 6 million Lego pieces have been returned to the children they were originally intended for.
So be on the lookout for Lego pieces that smell like ass.
Let's face it, toothpicks are a technology that became useless the moment dental floss was invented. Nobody knows why we continue manufacturing them; their only purpose right now is to aid people who don't want to touch canapes with their hands and don't know how to use a napkin. Stan Munro, however, figured out a much more productive use for them:
Pictured: The main reason the toothpick industry remains afloat.
Stan's obsession with toothpicks goes way back to grade school, when his science teacher asked the class to build a toothpick structure that could hold an egg. While most of the class tried to figure out what was wrong with the teacher, Stan built one that held a desk. It was at that moment, presumably, that the boy decided he wanted to grow up into a man who builds big things out of small wooden picks.
And then lurks behind them, apparently.
But Stan doesn't just create buildings: He makes entire cities. Plural. His first project, the aptly named Toothpick City, took him two years to complete. The sequel, Toothpick City II, consists of 40 buildings constructed with 4 million toothpicks and 45 gallons of glue. The structures take him anywhere from a day to six months.
"So, uh, where've you been for the past half year, Stan?"
"Expanding my toothpick kingdom."
All buildings are on a 1/64 scale and contain impressive amounts of detail, thanks to the technical drawings and satellite photos that Stan consults before starting. The most impressive part, however, is that he has managed to convince his wife that there's nothing crazy about making toothpick building his full-time job. It totally paid off, though: Toothpick City I is now on permanent display in a museum in Mallorca, Spain.
You've probably burned a lot of toast in your life, since dependable toaster technology has not advanced one iota since the device was invented. Depending on how much bread you had left, how hungry you were or how little time you had, your response was probably somewhere between "Oh, that sucks" and Samuel L. Jackson's monologue from Snakes on a Plane (only with toasts and toasters instead of snakes and planes). We're gonna go ahead and guess that you never pulled out the burnt piece of toast and framed it on a wall, though -- and that's where you've been going wrong in life, it seems. Yes, people pay real money to look at toast art:
This must have been a remarkably inept toaster.
Yep, that's toasted bread right there. Of course, Maurice Bennett, the internationally renowned toast artist, doesn't actually use a toaster to make his masterpieces; that would be silly.
He uses a blowtorch.
Maurice lives in New Zealand and gets a lot of his inspiration from Maori tribal designs, among other important parts of traditional New Zealand culture:
The follow-up to "Smiling Peter Jackson" will be "Raging Russell Crowe."
But wait, those are like, small mini-toasts or something, right? Otherwise, his portraits would be freaking hu ...
OK, that's a lot of toast. "The Toastman" credits his first career as a supermarket owner with honing his understanding of things like display, color and food. And what more logical career progression could there be than going from stacking cans to recreating famous works of art with thousands of pieces of burnt bread?
He added an ice cream to the Mona Lisa because the fact that it was made of toast wasn't weird enough.
Of course, toast isn't the only breakfast food on display in museums.
Creepy Cereal Art
Ryan Alexiev (born to Bulgarian immigrants, raised in Alaska and educated at UC Berkley, which is pretty much the definition of "confused hippie") finds his inspiration in children's cereal. Using the most colorful and sugary pieces he can find, he creates light hearted, whimsical portraits like -- no, wait, he makes shit like this:
Is it just us, or do you just want to fill that glass case up with milk?
That's a cereal replica of Damien Hirst's famous diamond coated skull "For the Love of God." If it looks disturbingly accurate, that's because Alexiev made it using a real skull he "purchased on eBay."
Finally, someone uncovers the untapped artistic potential in cereal and uses it to tackle things like religious iconography:
... and of course, Osama bin Laden, in this piece called O's-ama:
Nothing like Froot Loops to capture the fun side of a genocidal maniac's personality.
Of course, this isn't just for fun -- there's a deeper meaning behind every work. Like for instance, Alexiev explains that by making saints made of cereal he's really " how contemporary product marketing functions through appeals to our sense of -- and desire for -- the transcendental. In the Land of Milk and Cereal, we are what we eat."
The fact that he looks like Cap'n Crunch's estranged son explains so much.
Full-Size Matchstick Heads
When we say "matchstick heads," we don't mean the upper part of the matchstick -- we mean something a little more literal:
And a lot more insane.
David Mach is a Scottish artist who makes sculptures out of stuff like coat hangers, car tires and old newspapers. Also matchsticks. Thousands and thousands of little matchsticks. Mach uses around 30,000 matches in each of his limited-edition sculptures, and then sells them for about the same amount of money.
For that much money we could get you a real head on a stick. There are ways.
Each sculpture takes him months to complete, since he has to painstakingly glue each one of the matches to a fiberglass or plastic structure he creates beforehand. Mach doesn't paint the sticks himself, though -- that would be crazy. Instead he has them shipped from Japan, the only place insane enough to produce matches of every color, apparently. His sculptures include representations of famous people ...
... deities ...
... and mostly angry animals.
These are pretty impressive and all, but we can't shake the feeling that they would look infinitely cooler if someone were to "accidentally" spark a lighter near them. Fortunately, Mach agrees. He often closes his presentations by setting a head on fire.
And then laughing maniacally while staring into the sweet, cleansing flames.
Cigarette Butt Sculptures
Definitely the grossest entry on this list. Turns out there are a baffling amount of artists out there who look at old, soggy, stinky cigarette butts and see the building blocks of a fabulous sculpture. Like the dude who made this giant cigarette butt shell:
The shell is actually 5-feet-wide and 2-feet-tall, and considering the strict smoking laws in that state, may realistically contain every butt discarded there since the Bush administration.
Or half the ones in Courtney Love's sofa.
The same artist, Tom Deininger, also created this adorable rabbit:
... or at least it's adorable until you find out it is made from the filthy, nicotine-filled filters of (you guessed it) discarded cigarette butts.
Just looking at this thing might give you cancer.
So, kids -- don't believe movies when they tell you that the life of an artist is all partying and getting laid. If Deininger is anything to go by, it's mostly picking up other people's cigarettes on a beach.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, a public art project combined the natural venn diagram of cigarettes and babies to produce this monstrosity:
It's a pacifier, if you can't tell. Yeah, we're not sure what that's about. We're guessing this is meant to put off children from smoking with how horrible it is. It's like something a stereotypical cartoon villain would create to use as bait for the giant baby he's trying to murder.
Or maybe something out of a Tim Burton movie.
So you're hosting a fancy dinner, but then you realize you forgot to own a mantelpiece. What could you possibly use to cover your dinner table while making it look classy? Hannah Mendelsohn found the perfect alternative: ridiculous amounts of M&M's.
What excuse do we, as a race, have for not thinking of this sooner?
Mendelsohn was only in high school when she first started messing around with the idea that by arranging many, many M&M's on a flat surface you could get some pretty cool looking artwork. Eventually her dreams grew wild and her plan evolved into something much more ambitious, as she decided to make a coffee table covered in quasi-symmetrical geometric candy shapes.
"A M&Masterpiece!" - Future art history books
She never glues the candy down though (because what kind of maniac glues candy to a table?), so one bump and it could mean starting all over. Also, unlike most of the artists on this list, Mendelsohn doesn't ever have a set plan -- she just separates the different colors of M&M's, thousands in total, and wings it.
We think the carpet is made of Nerds
While her friends have encouraged her to get sponsorship for some commissioned artwork from Mars, Inc., so far Mendelsohn hasn't bothered to do that -- which means there is totally a gap in the market that you could be filling. We recommended Starbursts.
Drinking Straw Furniture
The one problem with having a bitchin' M&M's coffee table is that suddenly the rest of your furniture will look pretty lame in comparison. And, sadly, you can't cover a chair with chocolate candy (as we've all found out at some point in our lives). Well, that's what drinking straws are for, it turns out:
Artist Scott Jarvie says he was inspired by the inside of trees (we're thinking there was some sort of special mushroom growing in there), which naturally led him to create a chair made out of 10,000 straws -- plus a working lamp to match.
Now, he can't keep coke-head moths away from his house.
And if the thought of thousands of sharp plastic bits stabbing into your ass doesn't sound appealing to you, don't worry, there are more comfortable alternatives out there. Yes, there's more than one person in the world making chairs out of straws.
And if your straw table looks too bare without a straw sculpture on top of it, there is always ... whatever this is:
Coral? Jimi Hendrix droppings?
Those are 7,000 drinking straws wrapped in 300 yards of wool and crying out in confused shock and panic. Now dunk it in a bath tub full of tequila and let everybody drink through it!
Giant Lite-Brite Portraits
If you were a child in the 1980s you probably had a Lite-Brite. You know, that glowing box with colored pegs you could stick in little holes (or alternatively put in your mouth and choke on, which was way more fun). If you did, you might have tried to make your mom and dad a nice picture, only to have it come off like a disfigured, utterly disappointing mess.
Much like yourself as a child.
Well, one artist named Steve DeFrank never gave up on that dream and made a huge Lite-Brite portrait of his parents called, quite simply, "Mom and Dad."
Luckily for his parents it's hanging in places like the Smithsonian, and not their living room.
You probably don't remember your Lite-Brite set coming with all those shades of flesh: That's because DeFrank hand-dyed thousands of pieces himself especially for this occasion. Also, did we mention that this is actually a full-body portrait? And no, Mom and Dad are not wearing any clothes, so click at your own risk. (Includes droopy boobs and a tiny penis, all rendered out of children's toy.)
Fortunately, other artists like Joey Syta treat their Lite-Brite art with the respect it deserves, like copying an entire medieval tapestry in 1:3 size.
Because sometimes you just have too many Lite-Brites taking up space.
Syta's website says this was done between 2007 and 2009, which probably means the unicorn alone took him like six months. Another artist named Thorin Nelson used the same materials to create this psychedelic portrait of Elvis:
The favorite singer of crazy people, apparently.
But none of those compare to this massive, painstaking recreation of Leonardo's "The Last Supper," which was even submitted to the Guinness Book of Records ... and lost to this even more massive shoe.
You know the shoe people are going to Hell.
So now you know why you don't see kids playing with Lite-Brite anymore: It's all been used up by bored adults.
For more terrible wastes of time, check out 8 Guinness World Record Attempts That Failed (Hilariously) and The 8 Least Impressive Guinness World Records.
And stop by Linkstorm learn which Lite-Brite piece tastes the best.
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