Creative Wonders

Artists Sculpt Old Cardboard Boxes to Make Stunningly Realistic Life-Size Lion Portraits in Loving Embrace

BY Epoch Inspired Staff TIMEJune 20, 2022 PRINT

A pair of artists with wild ideas about the materials they use are sculpting naturalistic animals so gorgeous you won’t believe what they’re made of.

A stunningly realistic portrait of a pair of lions in loving embrace are rendered with such elegant detail and finesse, it’s hard to fathom they’re made of old, used, worn out packaging cardboard.

This strange and bewildering juxtaposition between art and the artists’ chosen medium — what most people would consider trash — has a sensible, even profound, reason behind it.

It makes perfect sense to New York-based artist collaborators Sue Beatrice and Andy Gertler: How better to showcase nature than by making use of what ails her — landfill waste — and upcycling it into something that celebrates her natural beauty? This is recycling at its finest. Art with a dialogue.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Andy Gertler and Sue Beatrice)

The sculptors told The Epoch Times that their work strives to make the “connection between the fragility of species and limitations of natural resources.”

Cardboard allows a combination of flexibility and strength as well as a variety of thicknesses and textures, which is useful for giving the lions their lifelike appearance.

“We use a wide variety of boxes, both single ply and corrugated as well as brown paper bags,” they said. “Different thicknesses are useful with the stronger sections being used as interior supports and the more bendable pieces to form curves such as the musculature on animals. We try to make sure that the pieces we use are very close in color for a more cohesive look.”

To combine the pieces, they use hot glue guns and a method of cutting and fitting the cardboard together like a puzzle, making it quite sturdy. For the fur, they use thousands of tiny pieces of paper simply affixed with Elmer’s Glue.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Andy Gertler and Sue Beatrice)

The two lions are also stunningly realistic; the artists both being professional sculptors, they’re no strangers to anatomical study. Beatrice worked for Franklin Mint, a toy maker, and Disney; while Gertler runs a sand sculpting company and also ice sculpted for Guinness World Records.

They explained how they captured lion anatomy so precisely:

“Inside of each of the lions is an accurate skull formed from both side and top views,” they shared. “We wanted to work life sized, so we researched skull sizes and started from there.

“Realism is something we always shoot for. We do a lot of research on the anatomy and movements of an animal before we carve it.”

But the inspiration behind the loving lions runs deeper than the cardboard surface and glue they’re made of. “We watched some wonderful videos that showed how affectionate lions could be within the pride and it led to this touching pose,” the artists explained.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Andy Gertler and Sue Beatrice)

This feline homage to nature is actually the first of a series of African animal portraits that will eventually become a traveling display, or perhaps go in a gallery.

“We are currently creating a life-sized baby elephant and have plans for many more pieces,” said the sculptors. “There are 10 to 12 designs we hope to add. These will all be animals that are threatened or endangered. This first series will be African animals.”

Meanwhile, the lions have gone viral on Facebook, and fans from far and wide have sought out the pair of artists to ask how they did it … so they did. You can check out their how-tos on Patreon.

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Epoch Inspired staff cover stories of hope that celebrate kindness, traditions, and triumph of the human spirit, offering valuable insights into life, culture, family and community, and nature.
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