Japan has a rich tradition of food carving called mukimono. If you’ve ever eaten at a fancy restaurant in Japan you might have found a carrot carved into a bunny, garnishing your plate. But in the hands of Japanese artist Gaku, the art of fruit and vegetable carving is elevated to a new realm of edible creations.
One constraint to carving fruits and vegetables is that sometimes you must work fast. The moment a peel is removed, oxidization will start to discolor your artwork. So, depending on the variety, Gaku’s carvings are probably created within several minutes. Armed with a tool similar to an x-acto knife and a fruit or vegetable from the grocery store, Gaku carves intricate patterns that are often inspired by traditional Japanese motifs.
Gaku points out that the banana is great fruit to practice with because it’s cheap and easy to carve. When asked what he does with all his creations after he’s done, his reply is simple: he eats them. “Except for the banana peel.”
Carved the size of a palm or smaller, these miniature boxwood carvings featuring religious iconography from the early 16th century have long been a mystery to researchers in the field. It is believed that the entire body of work was created during a 30-year window between 1500 and 1530, somewhere in Flanders or the Netherlands.
Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures will showcase AGO’s collection along with 50 other loaned pieces from other museums and private collections, including some rare carvings that have never been seen in North America. One work, the eleven-bead Chatsworth Rosary (c. 1509-1526), was owned by King Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon. You can tour the full exhibition yourself at the AGO through January 22, at the Met Cloisters on February 21, 2017, or when the exhibition makes its last stop at the Rijksmuseum on June 15, 2017.
You can also follow AGO on their journey to discovering the mystery behind the boxwood miniatures in the video below, as well as see detailed images from the entire collection on AGO’s website. (via The History Blog)
Artist José Manuel Castro López works with rocks both large and small to transform hard surfaces into gentle fabric-like creases. Each sculpture begins as a regular piece of quartz or granite which he delicately grinds down to reveal peculiar wrinkled shapes, as if the rock had always existed this way. You can see many more of his recent works in this gallery.(via Ignant)
Artist Cindy Chinn (previously) recently created a commissioned work for the California-based Epiphany Elephant Museum, a miniature graphite carving of a family of elephants. The piece, titled “Elephant Walk,” features the animals on the tip of a carpenter’s pencil alongside trees that are dotted to imitate foliage. To accurately carve the minuscule materials, Chinn utilizes a magnifying lamp and trinocular microscope. If you are interested in commissioning a piece, or would like to see her other carvings, she has works for sale on her Etsy store.
We’ve long marveled at artist Maskull Lasserre's masterful ability to carve anatomical details into everyday objects. One of his recent sculptures, titled Improbable Worlds, is no exception. For this piece the Canadian artist split an old upright piano in two, slicing through every last component leaving only a single point of connection: a tiny wishbone carved from the wooden piano back. The visual tension created by the piece is astounding, let alone the head-scratching question of how he technically accomplished it, knowing that if the weight of the piano shifted just slightly the piece would snap in half.
You can see more of Lasserre’s recent artworks in his portfolio.
Shinji Nakaba (previously) is a master of carving carefully into miniature objects, creating skulls and other anatomical forms from pearls no larger than the end of a finger tip. Nakaba considers these works “wearable sculptures,” as each pearl takes the form of a ring, necklace, or pin. Although he uses precious metals and stones for his high-end jewelry, he is not against mixing in more common materials. Nakaba has been known to also incorporate aluminum from beer cans and trimmings from plastic bottles.
“I’m dealing with all materials equally no matter how precious they are,” said Nakaba. “I bring out their hidden talents and beauty and they are being re-born as treasure.”
You can see more of his wearable works on his online shop.