Artist builds ships from toothpicks

June 18, 2009 (CHICAGO) He's a folk artist who uses them to construct models of famous ships.

"It started when I was in fifth grade as an art class project and the assignment was to take household utensils and make art out of I started with popsicle sticks…then I went to tongue depressors then I went to tooth picks and I got an A on the tooth pick project," said Kusy.

Currently Kusy is constructing a toothpick replica of the S.S. America for an exhibit called Sticks at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

"They're small. You can build small things with them -- lots of details with them—it's just a big challenge," said Kusy.

Kusy built his first boat when he was a sixth grader. Two and a half million toothpicks later and 40 gallons of glue, he's still at it.

A model of the Queen Mary is the largest of Kusy's ships. It's 25' and 25" from bow to stern; it took 8 years an 800,000 toothpicks to complete.

"I work mostly with deck plans...thanks to the internet you can get deck plans anywhere and you can pretty much get them for free," said Kusy.

When he isn't building ships, Kusy is a singer-guitarist with the heavy mental rock band.

"I feel very proud. I see my ships as art history and it's an accomplishment. It's like my own ship. I can say I owned the Titanic...the Lusitania...except I built it all by myself totally out of toothpicks," said Kusy.

For more on Kusy's work, visit

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