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10 Artists With Unusual Mediums

From dryer lint to butter, check out the craziest materials artists are using around the world.

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Photo: Salavat Fidai

Micro Sculptures

When you think of sculptures, you typically think of art on a large scale in a public park or museum, but artist Salavat Fidai creates small sculptures so tiny you need a microscope to see them. These microscopic sculptures are carved from the point of pencils and graphite rods. There are very few masters of this art because graphite is very fragile and the process is time-consuming. Many of Fidai’s projects take days to complete and are so tiny they’re not measured in millimeters but microns. His intricate works include famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower.

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Photo: Heidi Hooper

Dryer Lint

One person’s trash is another person’s art supplies. You probably don’t think about the dryer lint you remove when you’re doing laundry, but Heidi Hooper sees an opportunity. Hooper’s dryer lint art has been featured at Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Consumer Reports dubbed her the "Andy Warhol of Dryer Lint." Her work includes portraits, scenes from pop culture and adorable animals. Each piece has a myriad of different colors of lint creating a painting-like quality.

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Photo: Vilma Farrell

Coffee Filter Lamp

Don’t throw out your coffee filters! You could use them for art. Etsy artist Vilma Silveira creates lampshades with dyed coffee filters and the result is beautiful. "In my native country, Brazil, there is a rich folk art tradition and open markets where artisans craft all sorts of things using recycled coffee filters including flowers, wall art and lampshades," Silveira said. "When I first saw a recycled coffee filter lamp and how the light filtered through the coffee stains, I was mesmerized and sure that I wanted to make this type of art." Silveira uses water-based paint to give the coffee filters vibrant colors then the coffee filter strips are woven into metal shades. When lit, the shades resemble stained glass. "I love the fact that my art is 'green' and that I am able to recycle and beautify what most people would see as trash," she said.

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Photo: Vanessa Herman

Medical Mosaic

Hospitals can be cold and uninviting. All those white and beige walls are depressing. But Toronto nurse Tilda Shalof and artist Vanessa Herman-Landau changed that. Together they created a mural for Toronto General Hospital using colorful plastic pieces from unused medical supplies. The giant 4' x 8' mural covers an otherwise boring white wall and used approximately 10,000 pieces of plastic that could have ended up in a landfill. For years Shalof collected the colorful plastic pieces such as lids, caps for needles, cork for test tubes, IV tubing and plugs. All pieces were clean and never touched the patient, just saved from the trash. Herman-Landau, who has mosaic experience, suggested Shalof should make a mural once she saw the hoard of colorful plastic pieces. "It was quite a playful endeavor," she said. "We let the pieces speak for themselves as well as design." She said the mural represents nurses and all the different things they do. The two women have had such positive feedback from their upcycled art that hospitals from all around the world are sending mural requests.

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