Normal pearls just a little too precious for you? How about a pearl that's been carved into a skull? Jewelry designer Shinji Nakaba makes rings and brooches out of pearls he's hand-carved into tiny, eerie masterpieces.
Nakaba has been working since 1974, and the artist's experience really shows. The unique pieces of jewelry are impossibly detailed and come with a tiny signature on the back. You can try to buy a ring for yourself here, but be warned: they sell out quickly.
When he's not working with pearls, Nakaba likes to fashion other kinds of jewelry from unconventional materials, such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans. “I just want to bring brand new life to something that has no value,” he told Magnifeco.
In 1973, newspapers around the country saw the debut of artist George Gately's Heathcliff, a single-panel comic strip about a mischievous orange tabby who menaces dogs and haunts local fish markets. (And yes, he was named after the character in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.) For nearly half a century, the character has been seen in print, on television, and has spawned a slew of merchandise. Check out some facts about the comics page’s pick of the litter.
1. HE PRE-DATES GARFIELD.
You might assume the enormous success of Garfield, Jim Davis’s long-running strip about a lazy and sardonic orange cat, led to derivative works about sleepy felines. Could be, but Heathcliff isn’t one of them. George Gately’s strip began running in 1973, five years before Davis’s Garfield hit papers.
2. HE WAS BROUGHT BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND.
Though he quickly appeared in 200 papers, Heathcliff’s future was by no means guaranteed early on, and in 1974, the Los Angeles Times decided to drop the strip. More than 900 readers wrote letters of complaint in response, prompting the Times to reinstate the strip just a few weeks later.
3. GATELY WAS INVITED TO CAT CONVENTIONS.
With Heathcliff’s popularity came opportunity for merchandising, animation, and other ancillary ventures. One of the strangest may have been the repeated invitations for Gately to attend cat conventions, where cat owners requested his autograph be addressed to their pet. This sometimes led to questionable solicitations, like when one woman asked for his signature for her cat, Hitler. According to John Gallagher, Gately’s brother, Gately wound up writing “Good luck, Hitler” for the fan.
4. MEL BLANC GAVE HIM A VOICE.
Like Garfield, Heathcliff doesn’t speak in print. But when the character made the move to animation, being a silent hero was off the table. The first Heathcliff series premiered in 1980 and featured the voice of cartoon legend Mel Blanc as the title character. In the second season, he teamed with fellow comic strip star Marmaduke. Another series followed in 1984, as well as an animated feature in 1986.
5. BUNNICULA COST HIM A HALLOWEEN SPECIAL.
The crown jewel of comic strips in animation is the holiday special, with A Charlie Brown Christmas being the gold standard. Done right, the projects can run almost in perpetuity. In the 1980s, Heathcliff very nearly joined the pantheon with a Halloween special that was planned for ABC following an animated adaptation of the vampire-bunny book Bunnicula. During the outline stage, ABC screened the finished Bunnicula special and decided the animation was too rough for primetime. Since Ruby-Spears was handling production for both, Heathcliff got sidelined.
6. GATELY DREW SIMPLE BACKGROUNDS FOR A REASON.
Comic strip artists are constantly under deadline pressure, which is a big reason why you don’t often see elaborate backgrounds. But Gately had a different reason for keeping Heathcliff’s home simple. “I'm very careful to never make the home in my cartoon look too fancy,” he said. “I'm as interested in having the poorest person relate to Heathcliff as I am the richest person."
7. HE MADE GATELY A MILLIONAIRE.
Like Garfield, Heathcliff’s true potential wasn’t relegated to newsprint. By 1982, the cat’s merchandising deals were so profitable that Gately and partners raked in $55 million in licensing revenue.
8. HE ENDORSED KITTY LITTER.
In 1986, Heathcliff broke one of the last remaining taboos of celebrities and opted to endorse a feces-related product. Heathcliff’s Blue Ribbon Cat Litter promised to be “dust-free” and could absorb 1.5 times its weight in liquid. The ad copy got right to the point: “The competition stinks.”
9. ONE NEWSPAPER POLLED READERS ON WHICH COMIC CAT THEY LIKED BETTER. HEATHCLIFF LOST.
In October 1981, New Jersey's Asbury Park Press decided to allot space to one of the leading cat comic strips and asked readers to decide which one it would be. Garfield won, but only by a nose: The lasagna-engorged cat drew 326 votes to Heathcliff’s 324. One reader didn't appear enamored with either choice and opted for a write-in: “Bring us Marmaduke.”
10. HE WAS A NASCAR SPONSOR.
Chris Graythen, Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway
We’re not entirely sure what to make of the association, but beginning in 2004, Heathcliff was a sponsor for NASCAR driver T.J. Bell. Bell wore a Heathcliff character logo on his racing suit; his Ford F-150 car was dubbed the “No. 50 Heathcliff’s Cat Litter Ford.”
11. THE STRIP IS A FAMILY BUSINESS.
When Gately retired from the strip in 1998 (he died in 2001), Heathcliff continued—thanks in large part to the work of Peter Gallagher, Gately’s nephew, who had been working as Gately’s apprentice since 1994. Still appearing in newspapers across the country, Heathcliff is billed as "the original orange cat."
Fatbergs—typically masses made from congealed grease, diapers, wet wipes, and other trash—have a tendency to form where they’re not wanted, but a new one floating in the sea just off Amsterdam was put there deliberately. As Gizmodo reports, designers Mike Thompson and Arne Hendriks constructed the buoyant blob to be a statement-making piece of experimental art.
Their Fatberg (capital F) started in 2014 as a single drop of fat in a glass of water. In the time since then, Thompson and Hendriks have grown it into a 2205-pound behemoth by gradually adding melted-down vegetable and animal fats to the mound. Unlike fatbergs that appear in the wild (a.k.a. city sewers), this monstrosity is pure fat. The two masterminds hope to eventually incorporate human fat obtained from a liposuction procedure.
The project is less a statement about the litter and pollution that leads to fatbergs clogging up our sewers as it is about the meaning of the fat itself. “Basically we’re doing this because fat is a very interesting material—it’s probably the most iconic material of time,” Hendriks told Gizmodo. “It’s organic, but it speaks about energy. It speaks about health. It speaks about over-consumption. It speaks about beauty.”
The two men plan to continue growing their fat island with the goal of getting it big enough to stand on and towing it to the North Pole. But they have a long way to go before they break the record for biggest fatberg—that title belongs to the Whitechapel fatberg, which weighed a whopping 143 tons when it was pulled from a London sewer in 2017.