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Intricately-Detailed Sand Art from the 19th Century Made Without Using Glue

Andrew Clemens (1857-1894) was an artist from Iowa who spent a large part of his life experimenting with sand. Stricken with encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) at age five, he was completely deaf and nearly mute. But, that didn't stop him from starting to collect multi-colored sands from the state's Pictured Rocks region beginning from when he was a teenager. Clemens fashioned special tools made from pieces of hickory and fish hooks and arranged the gathered materials into amazing, intricately detailed designs.

Clemens' images depict geometric shapes, historical figures, flowers, and nautical scenes. They are crystal clear and vibrantly colored, and it's almost hard to believe this was all done by hand. What's even more incredible about this artwork is that he never used any glue. Clemens relied on the pressure of the tightly-packed grains to keep his handiwork intact. It's estimated that the artist produced hundreds of bottles during his lifetime, but much less than that survived today.

Andrew Clemens on Cowan's Auctions
via [Twisted Sifter]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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