Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weird Art Materials

Fruit Loopy art.
Quiet elegant really...
for toilet paper.
Today, while waiting in one of my wife's doctors' waiting room, I noticed the abstract paintings on his walls, all, apparently, done by the same woman (I wish I could remember her name). In looking at them closer I noticed they were painted on various textured cloth stretched over canvas stretchers.  None were framed.  Upon still closer inspection I discovered that they weren't painted (not in the traditional sense, at least). Each "painted" stroke was actually thread sewn by machine, to look like paint on canvas. As far as I could tell, there was not one drop of paint on any of her pieces. 

Rachel Betty Case and her toenail and navel lint art.
I have long been a champion of art created from unconventional materials, as my loyal readers are quite aware. For the benefit of those not quite so loyal, I've written on food art, shell art, balloon art, car art, shrub art, not to mention any number of "off the wall" sculptural media. As I did a little research into the art I'd seen today, I began to realize that I'd barely scratched the surface when it comes to unconvenional art materials. Actually unconventional is a bit tame for what I've found. A better term might simply be, just plain weird. Anyone interested in art made from toenail clippings, hair, and belly button lint? Rachel Betty Case is. She sells tiny sculptural figures in tiny glass bottles (above). Okay, that's an extreme case.

St. Peter's in toothpicks. The pope would be proud.
In a more tasteful vein, Ryan Alexiev creates using Fruit Loops (top). Personally, I'm quite fond of Turkish artist Sakir Gökcebag's toilet paper art installations (above, left). When I taught school, I would often have students build sculptural works from toothpicks and Elmer's Glue. They were inexpensive, taught manual dexterity, structural fundamentals, eye-hand coordination, and best of all kept the little ones occupied for hours on end. None of them ever went as far as Stan Munro, however (above).

Care to guess the recycled art material here? (answer at bottom)
Artistic License (plates)
I'm a great advocate of recycling, and never more so than when items that would otherwise end up in a landfill somewhere, end up instead as works of art. The giant seashell (above) by Tom Deininger is quite fascinating but you might be well advised to display it in a well-ventilated area. He also makes cute little bunnies and giant "binkies" from the same material. The recycled license plates (right) not only make an important point as to art, but would, in fact, probably look good hanging over the couch.

All it needs is a string of lights.

Whether it's silver spruce of hubcaps (left) or used rubber gloves (plastic, actually) bent on making a fashion statement as designed by Sarah Bell Smith, recycled materials have the advantage of being plentiful, varied, and usually quite inexpensive.

Sarah Bell Smith's recycled gown.

To the opposite extreme, Olivia Hulme's colored pencil sculptures would be quite expensive to execute. High grade Prismacolors can run more than a dollar each. Even if they were sharpened, then cut to size, I'd hate to think how much she has invested in what she terms her "cluster" (below).

Clusters, Olivia Hulme
I could go on and on listing and posting weird art materials and the creations made using them. I've not even mentioned art utilizing drinking straws, push pins, thread and nails, bottle caps, M&Ms, toast, match heads, and other potentially lethal creative materials. The key element in each of these items is not the thing itself, whether or not it's recycled, its cost, or the skills needed to  raise it to the level of fine art. In fact, it's not even the finished product that counts most, but the idea, the mindset, the spark of genius which triggers all the rest. Now, I'm back to pondering what I might create out of all the errant cookie crumbs which keep muckin' up my keyboard.

The Mona Lisa is toast. The seashell mystery material is...cigarette butts.


  1. Found this blog through Google search and I am simply amazed at the amount of high quality material and the regularity with which you post it. It will take me many months to go through it all and I am looking forward to it. Many thanks in advance.

    Would be nice to see a newer blogger template. Just a thought.

  2. Raj--
    Thanks for reading. Please subscribe above, right. I try to post a broad variety of art related material. If you read about four a day, you'll get them all in about a year. :-)

  3. Thanks, Jim.
    Yes, that's certainly possible. I would prefer to go through them at a leisurely pace. It's immensely enriching and I would not wish it to be over soon. :)