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Alternative Limb Project creates gorgeously surreal prosthetics

The Alternative Limb Project not only produces realistic limbs for amputees. It also creates custom one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable limb art.

Sophie de Oliveira Barata, at work in her prosthetics studio. Alternative Limb Project

It's hard to imagine life without a limb -- not just the physical difficulties, but how it might affect your relationship with your body, and your sense of how you're perceived by the world around you. One prosthetist is taking into account not just restoring limb function, but also the wearer's personality and style.

The Alternative Limb Project is the work of Sophie de Oliveira Barata, who, taking her honors degree from the London Arts University studying special-effects prosthetics, went to work as a sculptor for a prosthetics company. In her eight years there, she created realistic limbs and digits for amputees who wanted their new limbs to blend into their bodies.

de Oliveira Barata has continued this work with the Alternative Limb Project, and her realistic limbs, molded from casts of the customer's own body, are incredibly detailed. But some people prefer to stand out in a crowd.

And that's where the "alternative" part comes in. "An alternative-style limb can help to break down social barriers, delight the eye, and provide an unusual talking point," according to the Web site. Limbs created by de Oliveira Barata are stunning works of art, each piece created especially for the individual wearer's taste, personality, and style.

Alternative Limb Project
A floral leg worn by Kiera Roche, chairperson for the organization LimbPower. Alternative Limb Project

de Oliveira Barata's oeuvre includes more subtle options, such as an arm with henna patterns, but it's the more surreal creations that are the most stunning -- singer-songwriter Viktoria Modesta Moskalova's leg, which is studded with crystals and speakers, for example, and para-triathlete Jo-Jo Cranfield's arm, featuring a sinuous snake slithering out from inside.

"I... saw it as an opportunity to regard the leg as a fashion item and art project that seemed rather fun and exciting," Modesta Moskalova says in a testimonial. And Kiera Roche, chairperson for the organization LimbPower, says of her floral leg: "Having a beautifully crafted limb designed for you makes you feel special and worthy."

de Oliveira Barata's work is beautiful, yes. But perhaps more importantly, it seems to give amputees a wonderfully positive new way of seeing their own bodies.

Click on our gallery above to see some of her amazing custom limbs.

(Source: Crave Australia)