An Indonesian worker turned artist has become a local celebrity after his unique artistic creations won him local fame.
Three years ago Wahyudi Susanto took his oil painting, which he practiced in his spare time, to the next level as he took up using eggshells to create intricate calligraphy of verses from the Holy Quran and celebrity portraits. Incensed by the waste of the eggshells once their contents were eaten, Susanto approached local food stalls to supply him with the empty shells, which he has since used as the main ingredient in his artwork.
“I started it because I have seen so many eggshells from food being wasted in my neighborhood,” Susanto told Reuters from his home in Jakarta.
The former employee quit his job in 2010 to fully dedicate his time to his artwork. He collects nearly 400 eggshells a week and spends between four days to one week on his Arabic calligraphy pieces and between three to four weeks on the portraits, which he is commissioned to produce.
“In the beginning I created eggshell mosaic calligraphy only for my personal collection, but then I started to receive orders for face mosaic paintings,” he said.
The creations are labor intensive and require hours of concentration and patience. First, Susanto washes the eggshells in detergent and water, then he carefully arranges them in the sun to dry and eliminate any traces of odor. He then sorts them in batches depending on the external color of the eggshell. He uses glue and the back of a brush to carefully secure them to the canvas.
His Arabic calligraphy pieces decorate the insides of hundreds of mosques across Indonesia's provinces and his portraits include those of world icons like the king of pop Michael Jackson, U.S. President Barack Obama, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei.His work caught the attention of locals and, in early 2012, he started receiving frequent commissions for portraits. Local politician Fadli Zon is one admirer of Susanto's work.
“I like it because he uses the natural colors of the eggshell -- eggshells have various colors ranging from white, brown to the blackish. It requires so much patience,” Zon told Reuters while an eggshell portrait of himself, one of Susanto's creations, hung on a wall behind him.
Zon said he plans to order a number of eggshell portraits as gifts for his friends.