Though the inventor's original reason for creating bubble wrap to use as textured wallpaper or greenhouse insulator never quite took off, many other unexpected uses ranging from an advent-like calendar to a dancing mat, sure have. However, none come even close to what Toronto-based artist Bradley Hart is using it for - A canvas upon which to create stunning portraits and landscape mosaics!
The artist whose work was recently displayed at New York City's Gallery Nine 5, says that the idea of using bubble wrap first occurred to him when he noticed a leftover roll of the air filled plastic at his first solo art exhibition. Intrigued at the thought of turning something that is used to protect art into a piece of art itself, he decided to give it a try, and has never looked back since.
Using proprietary software that he developed with a friend, Bradley begins by first mapping the outline of the subject he wishes to paint, onto the bubble wrap. He then assigns a code to each color of the paint syringe he is planning to use. Then begins the painstaking process of marking each bubble with the right code so that when it is time to inject the colors, he know exactly what goes into each.
After that, it is time to fill the approximately 1,200-1500 paint syringes that are needed to make a single portrait. The number depends on the colors he is planning to use - For example, for his portrait of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, he injected 89 different colors of paint into the 16,000 bubbles.
Then begins the real painting! Going from bottom to top, the artist and a team of assistants carefully inject the appropriate colors into each bubble. These have to be paced at the right speed. If they go too slow, the bubbles will not fill properly. If they inject the colors too fast, the bubbles will burst. Over the years, the artist has figured out that the optimal pace is about three bubbles a minute.
Once every bubble is injected, the artist and his assistants begin the clean-up process, which involves surgically removing the extra paint that drips down the back of the piece. As a result, the painting looks a little blurry but equally stunning from the back as well, something the artist calls impressions. It is therefore no wonder that each painting takes between 150-200 hours to complete.
As for those that may get the urge to pop one of the bubbles whilst admiring the paintings? They will be quite disappointed because the paint that is filled in the bubble tends to dry up, which means nothing is going to squirt out!
Resources: Huffingtonpost.com, yahoo, bradleyhart.ca