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Artist Uses String and 78,000 Nails To Create a Realistic Portrait of Actor Cillian Murphy

String Art Sculpture by Ben Koracevic

When we think about rendering a portrait the typical utensils come to mind—paint, pencils, and pens. However, using string and nails, artists are able to mimic the depth achieved by line and color. London-based artist Ben Koracevic has been practicing string art for years, sometimes spending hundreds of hours to achieve his realistic illustrations. One of his newest projects merges string art with sculpture in an innovative way.

The work in progress is inspired by the character Tommy (played by Cillian Murphy) from the show Peaky Blinders. Koracevic began the piece by forming the head with about 88 pounds (40 kilograms) of modeling clay wax and a few cans of expanding foam. After the sculptural part was complete, he moved on to add 78,000 nails to the clay head. They were applied to every inch of the surface at a relatively equal distance apart.

With the nails all in place, Koracevic was finally able to incorporate his specialty—weaving the string. Just like his 2D pieces, he deftly wraps the black string around the nails. This creates a uniform color to the sculpture until Koracevic crisscrossing thread over itself in key areas, ultimately resulting in shadowy, opaque tones. While still in the works, the bust already has an amazing amount of realism, like eyebrows, irises, and pupils. Koracevic used 5,000 meters of string so far, but the bust is not finished yet. Once it is complete, he intends to encase the entire head in epoxy resin.

You can purchase available art via Koracevic's website, and keep up to date with his latest projects by following him on Instagram.

Artist Ben Koracevic creates incredibly detailed portraits of people and animals from string.

String Art Sculpture by Ben Koracevic

His recent project merges string art with a 3D sculpture.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ben Koracevic (@thestringartguy)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ben Koracevic (@thestringartguy)

He used 40 kg of modeling clay wax, 78,000 nails, and 500 meters of string to create this amazing bust of Tommy from Peaky Blinders.

String Art Sculpture by Ben Koracevic String Art Sculpture by Ben Koracevic

Although still incomplete, the sculpture is already shaping up to be an incredibly lifelike portrait.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ben Koracevic (@thestringartguy)

Ben Koracevic: Website | Instagram | YouTube

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Ben Koracevic | The String Art Guy.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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