Few things are sadder than thrown-away toys, once beloved by a child but now broken, outgrown, deemed lame. Now imagine if those toys could find new meaning and purpose—as part of adorable sculptures of dogs.
London-born artist Robert Bradford had the bright idea of recycling his two kids’ discarded plastic toys into a startling, life-like model of an Alsatian, the first of what would become a popular and lucrative series of dog sculptures. Bradford starts with a wooden skeleton, then screws on toys to fashion bones, muscles and organs. Some of the results—bright, lively, weirdly compelling—have been exhibited in Paris and New York, and one of them recently sold in London for around $20,000.
Bradford’s brainstorm happened when he looked into a box of old toys and was taken with the play of their shapes and colors. Since his first effort, he’s crafted dogs out of old Beanie Babies, stuffed animals and superhero figurines, sometimes using as many as 3,000 toys for one sculpture. Several pet owners have commissioned him to immortalize their pups, either with toys or his newest raw materials—old brushes and Brillo pads.
Not impressed? That’s okay, Bradford says on his Web site. “Some people just say [the sculptures] are rubbish,” he writes. “Which, of course, is perfectly true!”