Olympia, Washington-based artist Chris Maynard freely admits that he’s obsessed with feathers. Using the feathers shed by his own Impeyan Pheasants as well as feathers collected from aviaries and donated by zoos and fellow bird-lovers, Chris creates amazing shadowboxes depicting the very species of birds from which the feathers originated. For such small, precise, and delicate work, Chris uses eye surgery scissors, forceps, and magnifying glasses.

Maynard explains why he does this in a blog post titled “Making Meaning”:

Feathers are perfect by themselves so why make art with them? I do it to add meaning: to direct the viewer to ideas they can relate to. Giving meaning abstracts from the thing viewed. The meaning is not the actual object seen. It involves assumptions which can be wrong. Here’s an example: These sharp-tailed grouse feathers are not grown by the bird to be images of big-breasted love demons, nor deer prints, nor heart-lipped faces. They just add to the bird’s camouflage helping it hide. I like to remember that the viewer’s mind gives meaning, not the thing viewed. The things themselves are just innocent participants of the mind’s workings. Whether it is the color of someone’s skin, the way people dress, or how we see a feather, seeking meaning helps make sense of the world. It is a very human quality.

Visit io9, designboom, and Chris Maynard’s website to view many more examples of his beautiful and delicate artwork.

Japanese paper artist Nahoko Kojima (previously featured here) recently unveiled her latest work of paper art at the Jerwood Space in London. Entitled Byaku (Japanese for White), this awesomely delicate and intricate piece is a life-sized depiction of a swimming polar bear. It was made using a single 3m x 3m sheet of white Washi paper.

"Before she started to cut the animal figure, she crumpled the paper by hand to give it an uneven texture, creating a more faceted form than the smooth surface would have allowed.

The artist revealed to Designboom that she, ‘chose this particular Washi because it has less then 100% Kouzo content and this means that it subtly turns warmer in colour over time – this mimics the fur of the polar bear which based on my research goes through a similar change over the span of its life.’”

The ends of the bear’s fur form shapes of carp and waves, enhancing the appearance that the animal is swimming through water. Byaku hangs from the gallery ceiling and spotlights positioned overhead cast shadows onto a white plinth below, creating swirling patterns like reflections on water.

[via Designboom]

These incredibly delicate and detailed sculptures are the work of Edinburgh-based artist Polly Verity, who creates them using wire and paper.

Most of her subjects are animals or mythological creatures and the size of her sculptures range from palm to life-sized. The wire for the sculptures is built up into a 3D frame and this becomes the contour and outline of the creature. The wires are joined together through wrapping and pinching; no heat is applied to forge the wire. She then applies wet fine paper that she first sizes with glue onto the structure. The paper dries and tightens up while formed on the frame. Her creations are usually kept encased in a glass dome or box for protection and display.

Visit Polly Verity’s website and Flickr page to check out more of her fantastic and fragile creations.

[via Beautiful Decay]

For a series of awesome sculptures entitled Why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?, Japanese artist Aki Inomata creates plastic habitats for hermit crabs inspired by styles of architecture ranging from major cityscapes (like New York’s skyline) to Parisian apartments or Tokyo-style homes.

Aki Inomata creates these delicate and beautiful new habitats by first conducting CT scans of her hermit crabs’ discarded shells. Capturing a detailed 3D rendering of their abandoned homes enables her to prototype and produce new habitable shelters that her hermit crabs will find similar to their usual homes.

"The semi-transparent, delicate forms are designed in the style of physical human environments, which ironically become a shelter for the aquatic arthropods. The biology of the hermit crab makes it a fascinating example of identity transfer — as they grow they require larger shells and periodically interchange their external portion with other members of the crustacean community. Inomata connects her study of the hermit’s transformation to the self-adaptation of humans, whether it be in acquiring a new nationality, immigrating or relocating."

[via Designboom]

Inspired by watching a caterpillar munching away on a leaf, Spanish artist Lorenzo Duran Manuel Silva painstakingly transforms dried leaves into delicate works of art.

"By studying various techniques by the Japanese and Germans, as well working at his craft, Silva is able to make his creations stand out."

Lorenzo carefully cuts away sections of the leaves, creating enchanting scenes, silhouettes, intricate geometric patterns, or even negative images.

Visit Design Taxi to view more examples of Lorenzo’s awesome leaves.

It’s been a while since we last visited the small but astonishing Department of Eggshell Artists. Pu Derong is a self-taught artist from China’s Hebei Province who, with a knife and an incredibly skillful hand, transforms eggs into awesome works of art.

"I had always been fascinated by eggs as a child," Pu says. "They are so fragile. Artists use canvases; eggs are mine.” The talented artist from Dongzhuangtou village showed a great interest in painting and calligraphy from a very young age, but he didn’t have the financial resources to attend a specialized art school, so he taught himself. In his adult years he did all kinds of manual labor, worked as a repairman and as a chef, but never gave up on his passion for art. One day, he discovered eggshell carving completely by accident, and he’s been hooked ever since."

The fragile shell of an egg is a mere 0.3mm thick, so it took many failed attempts before Pu began to master his art. Today he is recognized as one of China’s most skilled artists, and rightfully so.

"One wrong move can ruin hours of painstaking work, so Pu Derong says he has to remain concentrated from the moment his knife touches the shell until the piece is completed. Although on occasions he uses dyes, most times the artist takes advantage of the egg’s natural coloring to highlight his work."

Unlike other artists working with eggs, Pu Derong never pierces the shells of his eggs. Instead he carefully carves away just a fraction of his 0.3mm thick canvas in order to create his designs. Pu even made his own carving knife. His subjects vary from beautiful patterns inspired by nature to traditional Chinese motifs and architectural pieces.

[via Oddity Central]

UK-based artist Susanna Bauer has exceptional needlework skills and, we’re guessing, a very gentle touch, that enable her to use dried leaves as a canvas for some of her miniature art pieces.

"Most of my pieces are small sculptural objects often based on found natural materials. I like giving time to the inconspicuous things that surround us and often go unnoticed, paying attention to small details and the tactile quality of objects. Appropriating traditional craft techniques like weaving and crochet as a means of sculpture brings a contemplative element to the development of my work. I am interested in unusual combinations of materials, the experimentation with fragility and strength and the individual stories that evolve and shape themselves in the process of making."

The next time you find a dried leaf, pick it up and examine just how fragile they are and you’ll be all the more amazed by Susanna Bauer’s beautiful artwork. Visit her website to check out more of her work.

[via Design Taxi]

Japanese photographer Kouichi Chiba takes beautiful photos that remind us you don’t need expensive or even particularly uncommon supplies to create art that delights and touches people.

Koichi places sweet and playful paper characters in a variety of environments, some natural, some urban, to create charming photos that feel like tender glimpses of a fragile little world existing inside our own that are completely endearing. Whatever they’re doing, naping, undertaking daring adventures, or just walking their dogs, his paper people are enjoying their lives.

Visit Kouichi Chiba’s 500px page to view more of his enchanting photos.

[via My Modern Metropolis]

Japanese paper artist Nahoko Kojima creates awesome works of cut paper art using single sheets paper. Her incredibly delicate pieces depict animals, textures, and other natural phenomena. Some of them are exhibited encased between acrylic sheets, while others, like her Cloud Leopard [see top two images] are hung from wires for display as 3D pieces. To give you an idea of just how painstaking these pieces are, Nohoko spent five months cutting the Cloud Leopard.

"The artist is currently working on a new piece titled Byaku that will be unveiled at the Jerwood Space in London next month, an ambitious artwork of a life-sized swimming polar bear made using a single sheet of white Washi paper.

You can see much more of Kojima’s work in this online gallery, and learn more about her work at Solo Kojima, a design studio she founded with Shari Solo.”

And if that’s not enough, you can also visit Nahoko Kojima’s Flickr page to view more of her work.

[via Colossal and Laughing Squid]