8 Remarkable Artists Who Create Art with Nails
If you thought nail art was all about talon-based diamanté and acrylic, take a look at these metallic masterpieces. Innovative artists and designers have used the humble household nail to make these remarkable visual creations. Some have been hammered by hand, some have been made using a trusty nail gun. Either way, we can’t take our eyes off these stunners. The overall effect is magnificent, but the work and vision that has gone into them is simply spellbinding.
1. Traditional Chinese Art
Taiwanese artist Chen Chun-Hao only has three tools for creating his beautiful works: armed with a nail gun, thousands of tiny, headless nails and a board, he fires metal into canvas to recreate the majesty of days gone by. Chun-Hao’s intricate work emulates that of the ancient Chinese landscape paintings that were produced for emperors. Whilst the process itself is industrial and far from delicate, the end result is calming and peaceful. Each piece uses hundreds and thousands of nails – and takes a lot of meticulous planning.
2. Perfect Portraits
British artist Marcus Levine creates breathtaking portraits of humans and animals, all using a hammer and nails. From a distance, his amazing pieces could be expert charcoal or pencil drawings, but every detail is made up from heads of nails. Levine originally wanted to make abstract art from nails, but he came upon the idea of using nails to make figurative sculptures instead. Whether depicting people or creatures, Levine’s works of art are realistic – and irresistible to look at.
British artist Antony Gormley is world-famous for his metal sculptures, with Angel of the North perhaps the most well-known of these. In 2011, he unveiled a work of site-specific art unlike anything else he’d produced before: Transport was created especially for Canterbury Cathedral. Cleverly, it is made entirely of antique nails taken from the religious building’s newly-repaired roof. Spookily, it hangs above the first tomb of Archbishop Thomas Becket, who was murdered at the altar in 1170. No wonder it has attracted comparisons to Hellraiser. Eeriness aside, the two-metre long installation can’t fail to impress.
4. Big Bird
Actually, make that huge bird. The imaginatively-titled Bird stands at a staggering 12 feet high and is made up of 1500 nails. OK, few of those are your bog-standard picture tack (i.e. they’re enormous), but artist Will Ryman has put them altogether to make this gargantuan statue, inspired by surreal short story The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe.
5. Mini Motor
Munich-based artist Alexander Geissler welded together around 7000 nails to make this model of a Mini Cooper Car. It took him over 200 hours to complete, so he must have been impressed when he finally saw the 300kg creation hoisted over the skyline. Despite being made entirely of nails, the finished product is instantly recognisable as a true motoring classic.
6. Nails and Thread
If you went to primary school in or before the eighties, you probably remember rainy break-times spent winding thread around nails on wooden boards to create colourful pictures. Whilst most of us only ever managed a triangle (or, if we were really good, a hexagon), one New York artist is taking the vintage craft to a whole new level. Kumi Yamashita patiently winds a single black thread around a collection of nails to make these wonderful portraits, part of an aptly-titled series called ‘Constellation’. Carefully thinking about the density of the thread and the distance between the nails, she creates a shading effect which makes these images both beautiful and believable.
7. Nail Mosaics
Albanian artist Saimir Strati makes incredible mosaics, using everything from eggshells to coffee beans. This huge portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci is made using around 400 kilos of nails, all hammered carefully into wooden backing. Strati first drew the outline of the Italian great on to the board, before setting about placing each nail in exactly the right spot. Little wonder that in 2006, this awesome masterpiece made it into the Guinness Book of Records for being the largest nail mosaic in the world.
8. The Animal Kingdom
Talented Bill Secunda welds together nails to make superb sculptures of all kinds of creatures. Whether a rusty-toned bear or a slick black silverback gorilla, his realistic representations of the animal kingdom often look like the real deal. On closer inspection, you’ll find thousands of nails painstakingly fused together. Tourist attraction Ripley’s Believe it or Not were so impressed that they snapped up his much-loved bison and mousse pair. Is it just us, or is the mousse in the final picture smiling?