Top 10 Amazing Sculptures Made from Unusual Items

5. Celebrity Portraits from Cassette Tapes

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix by Erika Iris Simmons

Self-taught artist Erika Iris Simmons takes a post-modern approach to pop art, with imagery based on concepts of data and memory. But whether or not that statement makes sense to you, her astounding portraits of musical celebrities — fashioned in looping lines from cassette tapes — will blow your mind. In her artist statement about her “Ghosts in the Machine” series of such portraits, she writes, “I imagine we are all, like cassettes, thoughts wrapped up in awkward packaging.” Her gift is to find the elegant beauty inside such packages.


4. Intricate Abstract Sculptures Made from Books

You Can Do Nothing

You Can Do Nothing by Brian Dettmer

In this day of digital publishing, are books becoming archaic? Artist Brian Dettmer is doing his best to make sure books are remembered: if not for their intended purpose than through his imaginative sculptures. He begins by sealing the edges of an existing book, creating a stable surface. Then, using knives, tweezers and surgical tools, he carves into them. One page at a time, he creates layered images, sometimes representational (a gear or a house shape) but often abstract and always dreamlike.


3. Fantastic Landscapes Made from Food

Onion Mahal

Onion Mahal by Carl Warner

From his earliest days, listening to music and drawing in his room, inspired by posters of work by Salvador Dali, Patrick Woodroofe and album artist Roger Dean, artist Carl Warner created his own worlds. Those lush inner landscapes are now transformed into “foodscapes,” creating miniature landscapes using pins and super glue. The no-longer-edible sculptures have a limited shelf life, but thanks to Warner’s other love — photography — he sees that each is immortalized in breathtaking wonder. Children and adults will have fun viewing his works and figuring out exactly what formed each portion of it: from lentil gravel to real onion-bulb cathedrals.


2. Leaves Made from Human Hair

Leaf sculpture

Leaf sculpture by Jenine Shereos

Artist Jenine Shereos, who specializes in textiles — creating lace based on tree shadows, for example — fashioned a series of amazing intricate leaves by wrapping, stitching and knotting together strands of human hair onto a water soluble material. When that material is washed away, what results are skeletal leaves that look exactly like the veining that underlies an autumn leaf. Shereos calls her painstaking creation process “meditative,” and it’s easy to imagine that each leaf is suffused with the thoughts that ran through her mind as she was fashioning them.


1. Shadow Sculptures Made from Garbage

Wild Mood Swings

Wild Mood Swings by Tim Noble & Sue Webster

At first, it looks like a pile of garbage, but shine a light on it, and you’re likely to gasp in surprise. Sculptors Tim Noble and Sue Webster assemble cast-off materials like scrap metal and wood into sculptures that take on new life when hit the right way with a beam of light. A pile of nondescript garbage, or a series of elongated metal scraps, turns into a detailed portrait in silhouette. Check out their sculptures, and you’ll never look at garbage the same way.

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