YouTube video elevates toothpick sculpture to high art

"Rolling Through the Bay," a sculpture made of more than 100,000 toothpicks and glue, depicts the San Francisco Bay area. CNET speaks with artist Scott Weaver.

One man, one calculator, and more than 100,000 toothpicks. When Scott Weaver started making his colossal toothpick sculpture, "Rolling Through the Bay," it was the 1970s and Nixon was in office.

Weaver is no architect. His construction tools consist of ordinary household items. A coffee mug helps him measure the perfect angle for ping-pong balls to roll through his depiction of the Bay Area. His cell phone props up parts of his sculpture as they dry. His phone may be loaded with sensors and have more computing power than space probes launched by NASA in the 1970s, but it is best used to help stabilize his toothpick marvel, not help design it. However, the attention Weaver has received for his sculpture was made possible through higher technology.

Although "Rolling Through the Bay" has been around for more than 35 years, the sculpture is creating more of a buzz now, thanks to the Web. "The Internet has really opened up so many things," he said, "and it's the reason that my sculpture has been out there."

After a video of the kinetic sculpture hit YouTube, it spread like wildfire. His creation became so popular it started touring museums across the country.

During CNET Sumi Das' interview with the artist, the entire news team teared up as he spoke of the one person he wished could see his completed work.

"I just wish my mom could have seen all this happen. She put up with a lot," said Weaver. "But at least she saw it coming to life over time."

To see Rolling Through the Bay in action, watch the video below.

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At San Francisco's Exploratorium museum, where the sculpture is on display, visitors ooh and aah. One onlooker says, "Ooh, there's the ballpark!" Another remarks, "I see rainbow toothpicks of the Castro!"

Weaver arrives on site with a new mission: to add the Exploratorium, which recently moved to the San Francisco waterfront. People start gathering. He snips and clips with nail clippers and sets the new addition with glue and one of his wife's hair clips. Weaver tells the audience, "I hope my wife doesn't find out that I use her hair clips, but it helps hold the new additions for drying."

 

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