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Extreme toothpick art (photos)

Steven J. Backman's painstaking (and splinter-inducing) artworks require only three things--toothpicks, glue, and plenty of patience.

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Tim Hornyak
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Cable car

San Francisco native Steven J. Backman has been building replicas, sculptures, and portraits out of toothpicks for decades.

Backman began his unusual career by modeling the city's iconic cable cars when he was in college. He decided to work only with glue and toothpicks. This one was displayed at Maker Faire 2011 in San Mateo, Calif.

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Lit-up bridge

Backman's 13-foot-long Golden Gate Bridge was built from 30,000 toothpicks, a feat that took more than two years.

It's illuminated by 100 LEDs and has been on display at Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in Hollywood, Calif.

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Golden Gate Bridge

This miniature Golden Gate Bridge, seen in front of the original, was fashioned from a single toothpick.
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Eiffel Tower

Backman recreated the Eiffel Tower out of a single toothpick.
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Radio-controlled yacht

Backman's radio-controlled yacht is 4.5 feet long. It was built with 10,000 toothpicks and glue, and coated with fiberglass resin for water resistance.

Check out the yacht sailing in this video.

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Empire State Building

Backman is most proud of his Empire State Building, made of 7,470 toothpicks.

Praised by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the 28-inch model was part of a 2006 Backman exhibition in the landmark's lobby to mark its 75th anniversary.

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Backman at work

Backman works with glue and toothpicks while making a 2D picture.

He spends an average of 10 hours a day on his art, and won't abide any distracting music or phone calls.

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Fairmont Hotel

Toothpicks, 178 of them, went into this likeness of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, a National Historic Landmark on the city's Nob Hill.
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William and Kate

Backman also produces 2D portrait art, including this picture of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton. See his Web site for more amazing toothpick art.

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