Photo - Jim Newberry - Dec 2005
Artist Wayne Kusy sitting next to his largest creation, the 25 foot model of the Queen Mary I, made out of 814,000 toothpicks,
Photo - Michael Padgett - 1985
About the same time Dr. Robert Ballard was fishing around the North Atlantic for the wreck of the Titanic, Wayne was putting the fishishing touches on his.
American Visionary Art Museum - Baltimore MD
CBS News WJZ Baltimore - October of 1995
This is Wayne's masterpiece exhibit of the Lusitania at Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum. It is on current display at 800 Key Highwayne near Federal Hill. This ship comprises of 194,000 toothpicks at 16 feet long. It is often mistaken as the Titanic because the ship was built in 2 removable pieces. Like the Titanic, it also has 4 funnels.
When ever I participate in exhibitions with my liners, I am always asked the same 10 questions. In fact, I have answered these same questions so many times, I have re-ocurring toothpick dreams about them. So I figured I would use my space here to answer the most common questions thown at me by both media and patrons of the arts.
Question: Are you crazy?
Yes, but only in a good way. I like to spend my time doing constructive things. While others are content talking on a cellphone all day long, video-gaming, or watching cartoons on TV, I like to build stuff.
Question: Do they float?
NO! I wouldn't even try! The earlier ships are made from Elmers Glue. If you were to try to float one of them, I am sure they would sink faster than the real ships they were modeled after.
Question: Have you ever built the Titanic or Britanic?
Titanic (yes), Britanic (No). The Titanic was my first ocean liner. At 10 feet in length is comprised of 75,000 toothpicks. It is actually quite small compared to my others. Recently, I unearthed some photos of its construction. You can find them in the link above 'PHOTOS'.
Question: How do you buy your stock of toothpicks? Are you sponsored by a toothpick company?
I am not sponsored by any toothpick company to this date. One would think that I should be getting the toothpicks for free. But you never know. I am sponsored by Titebond II Woodglue, who give me free supplies of their glue. It is quality non-toxic stuff, and I proudly stand by it, and periodically get stuck to it.
Question: How did you get started doing this?
It started as a 5th grade art project where the classroom assignment was to create art from household utincels. I did poorly with popcycle sticks, but faired a little better with toothpicks.
Question: Do you build anything other than ships?
I specialize in early 20th century ocean liners between 1895 and 1940. I occasionally build a clipper, like the Cutty Sark. I have always admired the detail and prestige the older liners had. They were like floating palaces, that sank every once in a while, with large losses of life.
Question: Do you only build sunken ships?
I used to. Before the internet, I could only build from what information was available at the local library. Since more books were written on the sunken liners, those were the ships I had access to deckplans and blueprints. In the age of the internet, that kind of information is available online on almost every liner you can think of.
Question: How long do they take to build?
That is a hard question to answer. I work on them in my spare time after my day gig, and on the weekends. I never had the opportunity to work on them full time. But based on some of my own simple calculations, it takes about a year per 10 feet. The most time consuming part of the construction are the small details, like the lifeboats and the hand railing. The devil is in the details!
Question: Have you ever made a mistake or wrecked one of them?
Yes to both. I once made a booboo by making the ship too short. I was able to fix it and make it look good. The only people who would notice a mistake are the designers, all of whom have died. If they dont say anything about it, I wont! One time, I walked into one of them on my way to the bathroom. One time a beer can got wedged into a funnel. Dont know how the H-E Double-Toothpicks that happened. Another time, some cats de-rigged the Titanic. No serious damage was done.
Question: What would you do if someone smashed one?
I would smile, and say 'SOLD!' and collect a certified check for 3 times it's list price. Gift wrapped too!
Question: How do you move them?
Answer: Very carefully!
Ask a silly question, you may get a dumber answer! But please feel free to contact me at the contact link above and fire away! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the website.
Cheers- from the Cap'n!
September 5, 2011