Human beings – we’re an awfully inventive bunch. Sometimes that inventive nature leads to breakthroughs in art, culture, design and technology. Other times, it just gives us weird stuff to point and laugh at. One of the most interesting expressions of the inventive spirit is in repurposing existing materials to new ends – don’t worry, you’ll see what we mean in a second. Browse this gallery and you'll be asking, “What the F is THAT made out of?” And because we’re nice, we’ll give you the answers.
Sometimes people use unusual materials as a way of reclaiming their cultural heritage. Chinese journalist Zheng Xianwen learned that his poor country ancestors once made clothing out of banana leaves and spider webs, so he decided to experience how they lived by weaving this amazing shawl entirely out of cobwebs. The garment weighs in at just over two pounds and took 300 spiderwebs to produce over a two-day period. Don’t look for them at Wal-Mart, though – Xianwen refuses to teach others how to create them.
Toilet Paper Wedding Dress
People spend a lot of cash on weddings; there’s no doubt about that. One of the biggest expenditures is the wedding dress, which seems kind of ridiculous since you only wear it once. So it’s not surprising that some frugal souls are trying to use nontraditional materials to make their wedding dresses. Website Cheap Chic Weddings has run a contest for almost a decade showcasing impressive gowns made of nothing but toilet paper. The craftsmanship on display here is just ridiculous. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain on these ladies.
Carpets can be kind of gross. Like underwear, you don’t know what’s been rubbed on them or when they were cleaned. But this rug by designers Tejo Remy and Rene Veenhuizen might be enough to make us forget about that. It’s got a bizarre but totally unique organic shape, like a massive amoeba creeping across your floor. Even cooler is what it’s made out of – the designers took strips of old blankets and sewed them together in a free-form fashion, giving the rug an awesome texture against bare feet.
Shotgun Shell Chair
Furniture designers love to make chairs that are uncomfortable to sit in, but this one is ridiculous. Industrial designer Alexander Reh chose shotgun shells as his medium for the “Fully Loaded” chair, and he employed 450 .12 gauge shells to create the seat, which has a gently curved form to nestle the spine and rear. Don’t worry about any accidental discharge, though – each of the shells has been fired once and carefully refurbished. The raw metal can leave quite a mark on your skin if you sit in it naked, though.
From the outside, the WorldFirst F3 looks like any other Formula One race car – sleek, aerodynamic design, the works. But on the inside, this puppy is a very strange vehicle indeed. Built by the Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre in England, the WorldFirst F3 runs on a biodiesel engine, which isn’t terribly uncommon, but the car’s body and frame are made from a cunning combination of potato starch and flax fibers that are remarkably durable and resilient. Even the steering wheel is made from a polymer derived from carrots!
1,000 Door Building
Sure, it’s normal to include doors when you’re making a building, but typically they are used to connect rooms, not – whatever this is. This building by South Korean artist Choi Jeong-Hwa called “Doors” went up in 2009. The immense ten-story structure uses 1,000 recycled doors to create a perplexing palace of entries and exits. Let’s just say that you want to look before you leap when you’re walking around inside.
We’ve covered some pretty bizarre materials in this article, but this one might just be the stinkiest. In 2011, students at Bath Spa University (that’s in England, so you don’t get confused) had the bright idea to make an entire couture collection out of 1,000 pounds of cheese. The artisans used Pilgrim’s Choice Vintage, Red Leicester and Extra Mature cheeses to create a variety of looks, but the most interesting is this all-cheese handbag that uses the wax from the rinds as a decorative accent.
You have to give props to Hungarian motorcycle maniac Istvan Puskas – the dude had a dream and seriously pursued it, leading to his construction of the world’s first wooden motorcycle. Carved out of durable, weatherproof black locust wood, the bike is powered by a repurposed Fiat engine that draws gasoline from a wooden gas tank. Something about the combination of flammable gasoline and all that wood makes us a little nervous, but what do we know? It doesn’t look like it has any shocks or suspension, though, so it might make for a bumpy ride.
Cassette Tape Skull
Of all the things on this list, this is the one we most want in our office. Sculptor Brian Dettmer uses old cassette tapes as his main medium, crafting astonishingly kick-ass images from the plastic casings and magnetic innards. He melts, breaks and fuses them in a variety of forms, but the awesomest is the human skull made entirely out of 80s heavy metal tapes pictured here. If you squint, you can see that the lower jaw is Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil.” He’s even made a complete human skeleton out of a staggering 180 tapes.
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The world of haute couture is a complete mystery to us, but this is over the top even for the fashion world. New York University fashion student Emma Kaywin was working a volunteer job at the school’s HIV Hotline when she noticed a huge allotment of condoms that was past its expiration date. Instead of taking the useless rubbers to the dumpster, Kaywin had a brainstorm and decided to transform the prophylactics into a fancy party dress. And hey, if she wears it on a date and it goes well, she has protection already handy!