Golden penny from heaven


A “penny” made by a Seattle artist out of 18-karat gold was put into circulation in Los Angeles in 2007 and found by a graphic designer in Brooklyn two years later.

In March 2007, American artist Jack Daws put one of his sculptures into circulation at Los Angeles International Airport.  His sculpture is no ordinary artwork, but a copper plated, gold penny.

In the summer of 2009, the penny resurfaced, discovered by a Brooklyn graphic designer named Jessica Reed.  Ms. Reed was paying for groceries at the C-Town supermarket in Greenpoint, when she noticed the penny.

Back in 2007, Daws hired metalsmiths to make a mold of a penny, cast it in 18-karat gold, and then copper plate it.  The “artwork” looks like a real penny, except due to the casting process, it’s slightly smaller, and because of the gold’s weight, it’s almost twice as heavy.  Daws had several pennies made in addition to the one placed into circulation: Seattle art dealer, the Greg Kucera Gallery, is selling them.  Prices start at $1000.

The golden penny seems a bit tame from an artist whose artworks include small black boxes, inside of which he sealed a variety of hard-core drugs, from crack cocaine and crystal meth to ecstasy, heroin and LSD.  Is this the face of contemporary sculpture?  Or should the object even be labeled as an artwork?  Is the maker guilty of the crime of counterfeiting?  Or is the lowly penny above the law?  Admittedly there’s a romantic appeal to the idea of a humble penny, secretly valuable, anonymously circulating through pockets and change drawers until it emerges two years later across a broad continent.  In fact it sounds almost too good to be true for an artist known for his “wicked sense of play:”

For Daws, life itself is inherently flawed, and those flaws inspire his subversively wicked sense of play.  [...]  There are no easy answers to Daws’ provocations. He forces you to crawl along the razor’s edge of his consciousness, and he rents space in your head long after you’ve left the building.  From


On finding Jack Daws’ penny via Arts Journal

Counterfeit Penny put in Circulation via the Greg Kucera Gallery

Art: Jack Daws’ counterfeit penny surfaces via the Seattle Post Globe


The art of butter sculpture

The Iowa State Fair has boasted a "Butter Cow" since the early 1900s.

The Iowa State Fair has boasted a "Butter Cow" since the early 1900s.

As recently reported in The New York Times (The People Speak: No Michael Jackson Sculpture in Butter at the Iowa Fair), organizers of the Iowa State Fair will not include a butter sculpture of Michael Jackson in the August fair.

“The Iowa State Fair has boasted a “Butter Cow” since the early 1900s. The origins of butter sculpting, however, are far older than that. Nearly 20 years before Columbus discovered America, Tibetan monks used yak butter to create figurines of animals and deities for worship. Since then, this humble craft has evolved into high art.

In 1911 J.E. Wallace of Florida sculpted the Fair’s first butter cow and was succeeded by Earl Frank Dutt of Illinois. Norma “Duffy” Lyon of Toledo, Iowa, continued the legacy, becoming the third person and first woman to sculpt the Fair’s butter beauties.

In 2006, after 15 years of apprenticing with Duffy, Sarah Pratt of West Des Moines became the Fair’s fourth butter sculptor. In addition to her first Butter Cow, Pratt also crafted Superman of “Superman Returns” (Norwalk, Iowa, native Brandon Routh, who starred as the man of steel) and “Mr. State Fair” Bill Riley (in honor of his 60th Fair).

The Butter Cow starts with a wood, metal, wire and steel mesh frame and about 600 lbs. of low moisture, pure cream Iowa butter. Once inside the 40-degree cooler, layers of butter are applied until a life-size butter cow emerges – measuring about 5-1/2-ft high and 8-ft long. Each year features one of the six major dairy breeds – Jersey, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Holstein, Guernsey and Milking Shorthorn.

While a real dairy cow weighs more than 1,000 pounds, a 600-lb. butter cow would butter 19,200 slices of toast and take an average person two lifetimes to consume, according to sponsor Midwest Dairy Association.  Much of the butter is recycled and reused for up to 10 years.

The Midwest Dairy Association has commissioned all the Iowa State Fair Butter Cow sculptures since 1960.”

According to Wikipedia:

Butter sculpture is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Yak butter and dye are used to create temporary symbols for the Tibetan New Year and other religious celebrations.  In North America, the tradition of butter sculptures dates back to the 19th century at agricultural and state fairs in the United States.  Shortly after the end of World War II, the Ontario Cream Producers Marketing Board and the Dairy Producers of Canada began a campaign to promote their products. Butter sculpting was initiated as part of this campaign along with the slogan “It’s better with butter”. This was intended to increase butter’s market share in competition to the high-powered advertising for margarine in the late 1940s.

To learn more of the history of butter sculpture, go here.  This slideshow provides vintage images of butter sculptures from the early 20th century, including images of President Teddy Roosevelt.

For images of Tibetan butter sculptures, go here.

Crochet crazier

In a previous post entitled Crochet crazy, we highlighted the art of artist Robyn Love, good crocheter gone mad.

Now, thanks to, we’ve learned of Patricia Waller, a crochet artist with a slightly different perspective.

Accident 3: Shark

Accident 3: Shark

Chicken: Yarn, cotton wool, synthetic material, crochet; length15 in.; 1999

Chicken: Yarn, cotton wool, synthetic material, crochet; length15 in.; 1999

Images courtesy of the artist.


MS the Younger adds:  Talented Tawashi

For something a little more within your skill scope (and cute and useful and eco-friendly as well!) try this project on for size:  the たわし (tawashi)!

Tawashi just means “little bundle” but it describes a traditional scrub brush.  The most common version is the “kamenoko tawashi” which is made of hemp.  It looks a bit like a “kame noko” – baby turtle!  These days hand-made crocheted tawashi have become very popular.  They’ve been featured on one of my favorite eco-home sites, Re-Nest.  They’re great for dishes or cleaning the house and you can toss them right in the wash if you want to.  Changing materials can also lead to tawashi for dusting or scrubbing yourself in the bath!

CraftStylish has a wonderful step-by-step crochet tutorial with pictures for a nice basic round tawashi, or you can head over to Shh, I’m Counting… for a huge list of tawashi patterns in an array of styles.  My favorite is the fishy tawashi.

Fishy Tawashi

Fishy Tawashi

Also, TED talks on the beautiful math of crochet coral by Margaret Wertheim.

By masterminding a project to model a coral reef armed only with crochet hooks, Margaret Wertheim hopes to bring some of the most complicated mathematical models embodied in our universe into the minds (and hands) of the masses.

Another intersection of art & science!


Yukidaruma (Snowman) Festival!

Snowmen wearing traditional snow-gear!

Snowmen wearing traditional snow-gear!

In front of Town Hall.

In front of Town Hall.

Yours truly in an ice cave.

Yours truly in an ice cave.

Well ladies and gents, I’m off to Denver to bridesmaid for 10 days!  So here’s a little something to keep you while I’m away… the Yukidaruma Festival in Shiramine!  This little town tucked in the mountains is usually covered in several feet of snow, but sadly this year the festival was preceded by a week of spring-like weather, so all of it  melted!  For the festival each family in the village makes 1 snowman for each person in their household, including pets, which means there were over 1000 snowmen being displayed that day.  After dark each group of snowmen had their own mini-lightup with candles.  I’ll see if I can find some good night pictures  later.  One of the best parts of the day was the food, of course!  we got to try some delicious local specialities, like yellowtail stewed with daikon, bear soup (there’s a big bear population nearby – I was told proudly that it was shot locally, not in Toyama!) and grilled ayu, a tiny, delicous freshwater fish that flourishes in the mountain streams.  Here’s hoping your town isn’t covered in snow and that spring is on its way!  Although maybe you’re not so lucky if you live in the Northeast right now ^^;;;

For more yukidaruma pictures:  Warding off the Winter Chill

~MS the bridesmaid

The art of the crayon

Artist  Diem Chau crafts detailed sculptures out of Crayola Crayons.  Via

girl-and-boy-carved-crayons-wood-base-3-in-w-x-35-in-h-x-2-in-d2 storytelling-crayons-installation-view2

Artist Pete Goldlust has an amazing series of carved crayons.


The Colorful Crayon Sculptures of Herb Williams.  Via Luxist


Herb Williams has also created a crayon sculpture of President Obama.  The 4-by-4-foot crayon sculpture required 50,000 crayons, features 20 Crayola colors and weighs 150 pounds.


Related MadSilence post:  Coloring between the lines

Related links: Crayola’s Art Tips and Techniques


Cold days and icy nights

Cold days and icy nights are in the forecast for Long Island over the next few days, with Friday bringing a high of 14° Fahrenheit and a low of 1°.  Perfect weather for the ice follies or the World Ice Art Championships held in Fairbanks, Alaska.  When the temperature is just right ice can be sculpted into amazing shapes. The annual ice sculpture competition is held in February and March and features single block and multi-block sculptures. Pictures from past events can be found here and here:


The Birth of the Blue Bird, Realistic. Junichi Nakamura of Japan, Daniel Reboltz, USA, Shinichi Sawamura, Hitoshi Shimmoto Photo by: Unknown

Pat Healy-Golembe

Animal Parade, Realistic,1st Place - 2005 Multi-Block Classic. Artists: Heather Brown, Steve Brice, Tajana Raukar all of USA and Mario Amegee of France. Photo by: Pat Healy-Golembe

Pat Healy-Golembe

StarBurst, Abstract, - 2005 Multi-Block Classic. Klaus Ebeling, Dominique Colell, Phillip Hunter all of USA; Ronnie Daanen of Netherlands Photo by: Pat Healy-Golembe

January 5th marked the opening of the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, held in Harbin, China. The festival lasts for one month, and features large ice and snow sculptures, ice lanterns, swimming in the icy Songhua River and more.


6Image source.

For more photos of the Harbin Festival, as well as a collection of recent photographs of all things frozen, go to’s The Big Picture.

Finally, there’s the Sapporo Snow Festival, held from February 5th to February 11th 2009 at Odori Park, Susukino and Sapporo Satoland, Japan. The festival is best known for the ice sculpture competition attracting artists from around the world, competing to create the largest and most elaborate artworks from ice and snow.


Related MadSilence posts:
Chill Seekers, or the art of ice
Ephemeral ice art
Auto on Ice: The Frozen Car Project


Halo effect

A single ceiling light illuminated our kitchen in my childhood home.  Set on a round silver base perhaps 12-inches in diameter was a single circular fluorescent bulb, thick, without cover or shade, glowing whitely.  I have a photograph of my mother sitting at the kitchen table, behind her a darkened window framing her portrait.  The ceiling light is reflected in the window.  In the photo it looks like she’s wearing a halo. 

Looking at Yuichi Higashionna’s “Naked Ball II,”  I’m immediately transported back to that moment.


Naked Ball II (2005) by Yuichi Higashionna.  Fluorescent light, aluminum and wire.  Diameter: 23 1/2 inches 59.9 cm 

~MadSilence the Older

Angelic anniversary: 10 years later


I was amazed to learn of this remarkable public artwork, apparently the largest sculpture in Great Britain.  Created by contemporary British sculptor Antony Gormley and erected in Gateshead in 1998.  From its inception, the sheer size and £1 million price tag was sure to generate controversy. 

The BBC recently celebrated the 10th anniversary  of the Angel.  You can view the Angel of the North 360 panorama  and learn from those who praise and those who disparage the massive public artwork.  


  You can even share your thoughts with the BBC and British public here

As described by the artist

Is it possible to make a work with purpose in a time that demands doubt? I wanted to make an object that would be a focus of hope at a painful time of transition for the people of the north-east, abandoned in the gap between the industrial and the information ages.

The work is made of corten steel, weighs 200 tonnes and has 500 tonnes of concrete foundations. The mound near the A1 motorway which was the designated site of the sculpture was made after the closure of the Lower Tyne Colliery, out of the destroyed remains of the pithead baths. It is a tumulus marking the end of the era of coal mining in Britain.

The Angel resists our post-industrial amnesia and bears witness to the hundreds and thousands of colliery workers who had spent the last three hundred years mining coal beneath the surface.

The scale of the sculpture was essential given its site in a valley that is a mile and a half a mile wide, and with an audience that was travelling past on the motorway at an average of 60 miles an hour.


angel-of-the-north-1            angel_side_long_120x180 


According to Wikipedia:

As the name suggests, it is a steel sculpture of an angel, standing 66 feet (20 metres) tall, with wings measuring 178 feet (54 metres) across — making it wider than the Statue of Liberty’s height. The wings themselves are not planar, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward, which Gormley has said aims to create “a sense of embrace”.  It stands on a hill, on the southern edge of Low Fell overlooking the A1 road and the A167 road into Tyneside and the East Coast Main Line rail route.




An artist cannot be judged alone by what may be his most notorious art work.  Check out Gormley’s current works and works in progress.

Via the weblog Still Checking for Nits.


Getting stoned at the beach


Check out this remarkable global art project devised by artist Sue Lawty in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The World Beach Project is a global art project open to anybody, anywhere, of any age, building on the experience many of us have had making patterns on beaches and shorelines.  The project combines the simplicity of making patterns with stones with the complexities of shape, size, colour, tone, composition, similarity and difference.

The idea for the World Beach Project arrived in the head of artist Sue Lawty fully formed and in an instant.  To find out why go here.

This map highlights over 300 participants world-wide to date.

Here’s how to join.



Ephemeral ice art

The epemeral ice art of Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo

Comments from Calvin and Hobbes on the impermanence of the medium and the transience of life.

 Via Neatorama

Related MadSilence posts:
Chill Seekers, or the art of ice
Auto on Ice: The Frozen Car Project




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