15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material

There's no limit to the imaginations of these incredible artists.
Saoirse Kerrigan
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Wood carving has been an impressive skill and beautiful art form for centuries. However, wood isn't the only material that lends itself well to carving, and many contemporary artists are pushing the boundaries of what they can turn into magnificent sculptures.


From foods, plastic, and even bones, these imaginative artists are using their skills to transform a variety of different materials. Check out just some of the artists who think outside the box when it comes to carving.

1. Jan Campbell: Transforming Avocado Pits

Jan Campbell is an Irish artist, best known online for her miniature sculptures carved from avocado pits. Campbell started carving the seeds back in 2014 and has since established a signature style.

She experiments with different kinds of avocados, each of which has different sizes of seeds. She typically carves when the seed is still fresh and soft, which allows it to dry into a hard, beautiful piece. Her work usually features serene, woodland creatures and druid-like figures.

2. Ray Villafane: Next Level Jack-o-Lanterns

What if you could celebrate Halloween all year 'round? That's basically what pumpkin-carving artist Ray Villafane does, transforming humble gourds into mind-blowing art. 

Villafane is a native New Yorker, and his skills don't stop at pumpkin carving. He's also known for creating gorgeous sand sculptures and designing action figures. His awesome work has been seen all around the world and has no doubt inspired many jack-o-lanterns every October.

15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material
Source: Frerk Meyer/Flickr

3. J. Pereira: Mouth-watering Watermelon Art

These watermelons look too beautiful to eat. Portuguese artist, José Pereira, has been carving fruits for 16 years and now has a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching the craft to others.

In addition to carving beautiful pieces out of watermelons, he's been known to work with apples, kiwis, and sometimes even soap. There's no limit to what he can lend his talents to.

4. Daniele Barresi: Masterpieces Carved From Soap

This artist elevates humble bars of soap beyond anything you could ever imagine. Daniele Barresi is an Italian sculptor who works primarily with food and soaps.

His detailed carvings are truly a treat for the eyes. He typically carves soap into intricately-designed animals like birds and fish, or into floral motifs. Barresi's love of carving began at the age of 7, and it's obvious by his work how much time and dedication has gone into developing his methods.

15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material
Source: Daniele Barresi/Facebook

5. Zane Wylie: Spooky and Stunning Skull Sculptures

Would you want a human skull in your home? If so, it will cost you. American sculptor, Zane Wylie's, carved human skulls usually cost as much as $8,000.

As unusual a material as it certainly is, Wylie doesn't seem short on supply. He sources his skulls from archeologists and businesses who usually sell remains to medical schools. He ensures that each piece is treated with the utmost respect, and fans of his work can even will their skulls to him to turn into art after they pass.

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6. Salavat Fidai: Art That Fits On a Pencil Tip

Some artists make art with their pencils, this artist turns pencils into art. Salavat Fidai is a Russian artist who carves pencil graphite into incredible miniature sculptures using his trusty X-ACTO knife.

His work features everything from political figures, to famous landmarks, and even a mini rendering of the moon landing. Though best known for his pencil sculptures, Fidai also creates miniature paintings on materials like seeds and matchboxes. 

15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material
Source: Salavat Fidai/Wikimedia Commons

7. Hoang Tran: Colorful Characters Carved From Crayons

Another creative artist turning art supplies into art is Hoang Tran, who has gained popularity online for his colorful crayon carvings. His work usually depicts his favorite characters from pop culture, and to date, he's done sculptures based on everything from Star Wars to South Park.

All aspects of his work are made from crayon, even the extra flourishes of color. Tran says that he melts other crayons and carefully drips the wax, sculpting away until he gets the right level of color and detail.

8. Wim Delvoye: Tyre Art That's Going Places

Belgian artist, Wim Delvoye, is no stranger to unusual materials. Over the course of his career he's worked with everything from food, metal, and even live animals. When it comes to carving, however, Delvoye's use of tires really stand out.

Delvoye transforms mundane car tires into beautifully detailed artworks, carving intricate filigree and floral motifs. His work has been exhibited in some of the most prestigious art galleries in the world.

15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material
Source: Lynette Zozette/Flickr

9. Yuken Teruya: Turning Waste Into Art

Another fan of unusual materials is New York-based artist, Yuken Teruya. Teruya has been known to use man-made materials like paper and cardboard, as well as natural structures like butterfly cocoons in his work.

One of his most well-regarded pieces is Corner Forest - an installation of toilet paper rolls which he carved into delicate trees. When the light hits the carved rolls, it casts a shadow of long and tangled branches. A beautiful way to recycle waste materials.

15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material
Source: Yuken Teruya Studio/Facebook

10. Chen Forng-Shean: Minature Masterpieces Made From Rice

Chen Forng-Shean has frequently attracted media attention for his tiny sculptures. The Taiwanese artist is most famous for carving tiny grains of rice into impressively small pieces.

While his rice works are among his best known, Forng-Shean has also worked with grains of sand and noodles in the past too. Needless to say, working with such small and delicate materials takes a lot of patience and skill.

11. Shirley Hambrick: Delicate Eggshell Works of Art

When it comes to delicate materials, few are as brittle and thin as eggshells. Despite this, British artist Shirley Hambrick has attracted attention for her incredible eggshell carvings.

Hambrick has a background in glasswork and uses an air-powered engraver for all her works. She originally experimented with duck and goose eggs before choosing to work primarily with ostrich eggs, thanks to their size and strength. 

12. Brian Dettmer: Bringing Books to Life

To some, damaging a book is scandalous. To others, it's art. Brian Dettmer creates incredible sculptures from books, carving them to bring their words to life.

His intriguing pieces have been exhibited all over the world, and frequently mix words and images to a unique effect. You'll never look at books the same way again.

15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material
Source: Courtesy of the Laurence Sterne Trust at Shandy Hall/Wikimedia Commons

13. Veronika Richterová: From Plastic Bottles to Plants

How do you recycle? Next time you're sorting through your plastic, why not turn it into art instead? That's exactly what Czech artist Veronika Richterová did.

Richterová is best known for carving and combining PET plastic bottles to create animals and plants. She's created numerous plastic cacti and has written extensively on the topic of plastic in the past. 

14. Noah Deledda: Making Aluminium Cans Beautiful

Chances are you've already seen Noah Deledda's work in your newsfeed. Earlier this year the American artist went viral for his hypnotic transformations of humble aluminum cans.

Deledda works by skillfully carving a design into the cans by hand, and then compressing them to create the finished effect. Definitely something worth trying next time you finish your drink.

15. Cordelia Cembrowicz: Creating Literal Tooth Fairies

London-based artist, Cordelia Cembrowicz, works in a variety of styles and media. Perhaps her most notable work, however, is her series of tooth fairies carved from real teeth.

Cembrowicz used a regular electric drill paired with dental drill bits to carve the materials. On her website, she allows parents to donate their children's baby teeth to be turned into more beautiful artworks.

15 Artists That Prove You Can Carve Out of Any Material
Source: Cordelia Cembrowicz
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