Is This Made from Wood or Something Else?

A pair of artists with wild ideas about the materials they use are sculpting naturalistic animals so gorgeous you won’t believe what they’re made of.

This stunningly realistic portrait of a pair of lions in a loving embrace is rendered with such elegant detail and finesse that it’s hard to fathom they’re made of old, used, worn-out packaging cardboard.

Design and Structure

The sculpture features a male and female lion resting closely together, their heads meticulously crafted to capture the essence of these majestic animals.

The male lion’s mane is designed to resemble individual feathers or leaves, adding a dynamic texture and depth to the piece. The lions rest on a beautifully carved base adorned with intricate patterns, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.

The Artists Behind the Magic

New York-based artists Sue Beatrice and Andy Gertler are the masterminds behind this extraordinary work. Their approach to using what most people consider trash — landfill waste — to create art is both innovative and environmentally conscious.

This strange and bewildering juxtaposition between art and the artists’ chosen medium has a profound reason behind it: showcasing nature by upcycling waste into something that celebrates natural beauty. This is recycling at its finest, art with a dialogue.

Material Selection

Cardboard is the primary material for this sculpture, chosen for its combination of flexibility and strength, as well as the variety of thicknesses and textures it offers.

Different types of cardboard, from single-ply to corrugated, and even brown paper bags, are used to achieve various structural and textural elements. The sculptors select pieces that are close in color to ensure a cohesive look.

Crafting Techniques

Creating such a lifelike sculpture from cardboard involves innovative techniques and a deep understanding of the material. The artists begin by constructing an accurate skull for each lion, based on detailed anatomical research.

Layers of cardboard are then meticulously cut, shaped, and assembled to form the lion heads. The mane, which resembles individual feathers or leaves, is crafted by layering and curling thin strips of cardboard. For the fur, thousands of tiny pieces of paper are affixed using Elmer’s Glue, adding to the lifelike texture.

To combine the pieces, hot glue guns are used, and the cardboard is fitted together like a puzzle, making the structure quite sturdy. The thicker sections of cardboard provide interior support, while the more flexible pieces are used to form curves and musculature.

Integration of Artistic Elements

The realistic expressions of the lions and the detailed mane showcase the artists’ ability to transform a simple material into a work of art.

The sculpture’s lifelike quality and intricate detailing demonstrate the mastery of Beatrice and Gertler. The decorative base adds a layer of complexity and integrates different design elements seamlessly.

Aesthetic and Practical Appeal

This cardboard lion sculpture is a striking example of how a humble material can be transformed into a captivating piece of art. Its realistic appearance and intricate details make it an excellent addition to any setting that appreciates creativity and craftsmanship.

The sculpture challenges the perception of cardboard as mere packaging material, showcasing its potential in the world of fine art.

The Deeper Meaning

The inspiration behind the loving lions runs deeper than the cardboard and glue they’re made of. Beatrice and Gertler’s work aims to make the “connection between the fragility of species and limitations of natural resources.” The artists were inspired by videos showing how affectionate lions can be within their pride, leading to this touching pose.

This feline homage to nature is the first of a series of African animal portraits that will eventually become a traveling display or perhaps a gallery exhibition. The artists are currently working on a life-sized baby elephant and have plans for many more pieces, focusing on animals that are threatened or endangered.

This project highlights the endless possibilities within the realm of crafting with unconventional materials. It encourages artists and crafters to explore new techniques and push the boundaries of their creativity, proving that with skill and imagination, even cardboard can be transformed into something extraordinary.

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