Daniel Lai Book Sculptures

From old books that people no longer want, Daniel Lai creates art with several mediums in varied styles and subject matter, bringing new life to old paper. The artist, also known as Kenjio was born in Malaysia, moved to the United States in 2000, and is now living in Tennessee.

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Each book sculpture is made by folding the paper to create a fan effect and adding a clay figure of a man. Each of the folded paper sculptures look like a large flower. The figure is then added to suggest a moment of thought. His series of “Thinkersculptures echoes Rodin’s “The Thinker”

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These literary sculptures show the need for knowledge and the limits time gives us to gain that knowledge.

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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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A road winding to the top of a North Carolina mountain is the entrance to Oz, a 1970s theme park that closed less than 10 years after it opened. Back when it started, the Land of Oz would attract up to 20,000 visitors a day, but now the Yellow Brick Road is missing some bricks, and the Wicked Witch’s castle is empty.

Grover Robbins developed the Beech Mountain theme park as a way of attracting families to the  resort town. Robbins never lived to see his masterpiece, dying at the age of 50 of bone cancer only six months before  the park was complete. The park opened on June 15, 1970 with Debbie Reynolds making an appearance, along with her daughter, Carrie Fisher. In its  first summer 400,000 visitors came to the Land of Oz.

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The Yellow Brick Road wound its way through the park, leading tourists to a replica Emerald City (destroyed in a fire), Dorothy’s house, the castle of the Wicked Witch and the Munchkin village all accurately recreated on over 450 acres.

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After a decline in amusement park visitors in the 1970s and a lack of modernization and updates in the park itself, the Land of Oz closed in 1980. The park was left to vandals and decay, but there was enough interest in its restoration that it was eventually restored as a private garden in the Eagle Mountain community built at that property near the top of Beech Mountain.

The park does open to the public one week-end a year in the beginning of October.

http://www.ourstate.com/north-carolinas-land-of-oz/

Snow Cave in Kamchatka

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This surreal-looking ice cave is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. With very little snow, and a hot summer huge snow melts occured. As a result, a passage was formed in the snow was leading to the cave formed underneath.

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At the entrance, the ceiling is thin enough for light to break through giving unique effects. The colored lights aren’t a computer trick, but are the result of sunlight streaming through the ice into the hidden world below. When you get further away from the entrance, the arch of the cave becomes thicker, and less sunlight comes through it, but you can still see unreal spans of form and color.

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The snow caves of were formed by hot springs flowing from a volcano. The Kamchatka Peninsula, in the far east of Russia, is a region of extraordinary natural beauty with  large symmetrical volcanoes, lakes, raging rivers and breathtaking coastline.

(photos by Denis Budko, Marc Szeglat, Michael Zelensky and xflo:w)

Mini Key Guns for Jailers

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Most guards today don’t actually carry firearms, unless they’re isolated away from the prison population. In the old days however, prison guards needed a little backup power while using both hands to open cell doors. Hence the creation of jailer key guns, a cell door key that doubled as a primitive one-shooter. These “turnkeys” were filled with gunpowder that would fire the miniature key-pistol in case there was any trouble from the prisoner when the cell door was opened. They may not have been too effective, having only one shot, but it was enough to discourage the plans of potentially dangerous prisoners.key-guns-jailers-used-keep-prisoners-check_w654
Since most of the key guns were thrown in rivers and swamps after prisoners took them during escapes, they are now very rare and only line the pockets of antique collectors.keyj

Paper Anatomy by Lisa Nilsson

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American artist Lisa Nilsson creates anatomical cross sections of the human body using rolled strips of paper, a technique known as quilling or paper filigree. Quilling is a time consuming process in which paper is wound tightly into small rolls of different colors and then positioned to become works of art.  Nilsson is able to choose exactly the right material to imitate the organic structures making each piece appear as real cross-sections of humans and animals.Quilled-Paper-Anatomy-1

The construction is done with  Japanese paper and the gilded edges of old books. Quilling was first practiced by Renaissance nuns and monks who made artistic use of the gilded edges of worn out bibles, and later by 18th century ladies who made artistic use of lots of free time.QUILLL

http://lisanilssonart.com/section/282102_Tissue_Series.html

Tree Troll of Kim Beaton

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Seattle-based Kim Beaton with the help of 25 volunteers built a 12-foot tall tree troll out of completely non-toxic materials. In 2006, the artist and a team of volunteers spent 15 days creating a unique tree troll out of papier mache, wood, metal plates and other materials. The sculpture looks realistic if that is possible, but it’s the friendly face inspired by her father that gets your attention.  In about forty minutes after waking from a dream about her father, she had a rough sculpture that said what she wanted. The next morning she began making phone calls, telling her friends that in 6 days time they would begin on a new large piece. Fifteen days after starting, they were done.

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The flexible building material was developed by the University of Michigan and has been used to improve earthquake resistance in structures. Beaton molded it around plywood to make the sculpture. The strength of the material meant people could enjoy the sculpture without risk of damage. Resembling something from “The Hobbit”, It’s public art and people should touch it and kids can play on it. The troll has been given a coat of buttermilk, and blended moss and lichen, in the hope of attracting further growth.

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Beaton moved from Montana to New Zealand to work on The Hobbit with Weta Workshops.

http://kimgrahamstudios.com/

Fine Art of Body Painting

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You might not see it right away, but is this really a frog, or something more? The brightly colored image is actually five naked women decorated by body painter Johannes Stoetter to look like a tree frog. With the models perfectly positioned it’s hard to see where there is a separation of their bodies.

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Stoetter, started body painting in the year 2000, creating  scenes turning human models into objects found in the natural world, including rocks, trees and animals. The artist is a fine-art body painter from Italy who uses his talent of blending his subjects into their surroundings so well that they disappear.

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These works of art, which can take eight hours to complete, have earned Stoetter the world body painting title.

http://www.johannesstoetterart.com/

Mate, The Drink Of Argentina

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Mate is the national drink of Argentina. “Maté” literally means “I killed” in Spanish. Later the word was used by people who colonized the region of the Río de la Plata to describe the natives rough and sour drink, always consumed with nothing added to soften the taste. Traditionally the beverage is prepared in the same gourd cup, also called mate or guampa.

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The initial preparation involves an arrangement of the yerba within the gourd before adding hot water. In this method, the gourd is first filled half to three-quarters of the way with yerba The mate is then shaken very gently in a side-to-side motion. Now the mate is ready to receive the straw.mate bombilla

Some people pour warm water into the mate before adding the straw, while others say that the straw is best inserted into dry yerba. If the straw was inserted into dry yerba, the mate must first be filled once with cool water, then be allowed to absorb it completely (which generally takes no more than two or three minutes).Gaucho Drinking Mate, Fiesta de la Tradición, San Antonio de Areco, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Mate is traditionally drunk in a social setting, like a family gathering or among a group of friends. The same gourd (cuia) and straw (bomba/bombilla) are passed around and used by everyone drinking .

Showmen’s Rest Circus Cemetery

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Here the clowns have stopped laughing, the acrobats no longer fly, and the music has quit playing. Everything is quiet here, but now in immortal life, the show must go on. The small town of Hugo, Oklahoma,  the winter home of the traveling circus since the 1930s, has become the eternal home for some who have spent their life under the big top.

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A section of Mount Olivet Cemetery called Showmen’s Rest, is bordered by sculptures of elephants on granite pedestals and each grave is designed to show the circus skills of the performer. Here they will remain forever performing under a timeless Big Top.

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While these lie in quiet slumber, the rest of the city celebrates their legendary past with clowns, elephants, and death defying stunts. Children watch with delight as performers practice their impossible feats. Adults are held spellbound by the show overhead.  This small Oklahoma town has a history more unique than any other in the state.

http://www.okgenweb.org/~okchocta/cemetery/showmans_rest.htm

Ray Caesar Surrealist

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Ray Caesar is one of the most notable digital artists of our time. He is also the mind behind some of the most disturbing surrealist art.  He is a Toronto-based artist with works that have been in high demand over the past decade. Caesar is unapologetic about being a digital artist in an art world that sometimes sneers at using the computer for creating fine-art.

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Caesar’s portraits usually include abnormality and fantasy in a dismal setting of sexual suggestions. His works captivate some and turn others away. Onlookers have described his work as both grotesque and beautiful at the same time. Besides being a gifted dream-weaver, he is without a doubt one of the most influential surrealist artists of our day.

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http://www.raycaesar.com/