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Lauren Ryan

Artist Creates Surprisingly Realistic Animals Out of Pipe Cleaners

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Lauren Ryan

Who knew the humble pipe cleaner could be used to create such amazing works of art? Artist Lauren Ryan makes beautiful, lifelike animals using nothing more than the fuzzy twists. The impressive creations are so realistic, you just want to reach out and pet them. Ryan is keen on canines, and has made a collection of pipe cleaner dogs and dog-like animals (like the fictional character Amaterasu), and she's also created other animals like a cheetah, an okapi, and a lizard. The pipe cleaners' fluffiness mimics real animals' fur, helping it look all the more realistic.

When creating a new creature, Ryan starts with the eyes, which are often the hardest part. Once she's satisfied, she can move to the head and body. "I use a technique that’s somewhere between weaving, sewing and tying annoyingly complicated knots," Ryan tells Who'd Have Thought. Impressively, none of the sculptures require glue; when needed, some are made using pliers and markers.

The 23-year-old artist says she's mostly self-taught, though she spent two years studying art at a community college and a year as the apprentice for a bronze sculptor. "When I was a kid, building and creating new things with ordinary materials was more fun than playing with toys," she says. "I never focused much on practicing art to get better at it; art was just something I did because I loved it."

You can see more of Ryan's work on her Facebook page

Meg Biddle

[h/t Inhabitat]

All images courtesy of Lauren Ryan.

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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