Believe It or Not!
Michigan artist Laura Bell is a little fuzzy about the details of her portrait -The Last Supper. That’s because she used fluffy dryer lint as the medium for her take on this famous work of art. The massive masterpiece measures 14 feet long by 4 feet tall and has been acquired by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! It will eventually go on display at one of the company’s 32 odditoriums around the world.
Bell, an amateur artist from Roscommon, Michigan, was inspired by a laundry lint portrait she saw about 10 years ago at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Wisconsin Dells Odditorium. In 2009, with some encouragement from her husband and a handful of lint from her dryer, she began creating The Last Supper for the ArtPrize 2010 competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Bell says she spent seven months saving the lint from her own dryer, but the problem was it was usually the same color. She tried laundromat lint, but it was always shades of gray and full of dog hair.
She ended up buying towels in the colors that she wanted to use in the portrait and washed and dried them separately to get lint with just the right tint. She estimates that she spent 700-800 hours just doing laundry to get the lint she needed for The Last Supper. She says it took another 200 hours to create the portrait. All the lint in her portrait is as it came out of the dryer and has not been colored or dyed.
She says she’s been thrilled by the response from people who have seen it, and the prospect of millions more seeing it via Ripley’s. “For some people, it’s a very spiritual experience,” said Bell. “Others are simply amazed at what someone could do with basic laundry lint.”
“Ripley’s has several other lint art ‘paintings’ from two other artists, but this is our first from Laura,” said Edward Meyer, Ripley’s VP of Exhibits and Archives. “It is the largest lint art piece we have ever seen, and obviously the image is so iconic, we simply had to add it to our collection.”
Bell gave herself a reward after Ripley’s acquired The Last Supper. Not surprisingly, it was a new washer and dryer.
The Last Supper from lint is the latest in Ripley’s collection of the masterpiece done in unusual media. Ripley’s also has The Last Supper on a grain of rice, a dime and even one made from burnt toast.