It started as an intriguing picture of a shipwreck. Now, nearly five years, 270,000 toothpicks and 10 gallons of wood glue later, artist Wayne Kusy’s latest artistic journey is complete.
The incredibly detailed replica of the S.S. America is set to make its public debut.
Art like this has been a love of Wayne’s since 5th grade.
“We made art from popsicle sticks and we made art from macaroni, oatmeal and then when we got into toothpicks,” he says. “I was inspired somehow.”
Over the years Wayne has done replicas of three clipper ships and four ocean liners, including the Titanic, and his biggest, the Queen Mary. That used 814,000 toothpicks, 25 gallons of glue and measures in at 25-feet long.
But the S.S. America proved to have its own challenges.
Wayne works off blueprints and mechanical drawings and scales them down. The ship portion is actually the easy part.
“Once you start getting up in to the little details, they have to be built individually,” he explains. “The lifeboats, the smokestacks and the ventilation system … Not only do I have to scale them down, I have to map them in to make sure there’s enough room for them.”
“I’ve started a tradition of putting objects in my ships for good luck,” he says. “I put a rubber duck in this model. I think it’s sitting in the restaurant section. You can’t see it but it’s for good luck.”
S.S. America Viewing Party
Friday April 15th 7p-11p
Black Couch Gallery
4200 W. Diversey
Remains on display through April