66 year old Zhang DeXuan is a Chengdu artist who uses a rather unusual media to create his art: human hair. Using five basic tools and a magnifying glass, for the past 54 years, he’s painstakingly created portraits by weaving human hair and wire together.
To create these art pieces, he first makes an enlarged blueprint (up to a 100 times larger) and then spends a minimum of two months weaving each strand in. The work requires so much patience and attention to detail, Zhang has had to learn to control his breathing so that he doesn’t break any of the hair. Although most of his portraits only contain a few hundred strands, he is very picky about which hair he uses–out of 10,000 strands, he may choose only to use one hair.
He says the technique has has been handed down in his family for three generations now but this specialty was endangered for a time of becoming a lost art. When he was just 30 years old, Zhang was the only known artist able to create portraits from hair. He couldn’t convince his children to learn because of the high difficulty and patience the art requires so he was extremely worried it might die with him. Desperate to find an apprentice, he showcased his work in an exhibition in Sichuan. Through that he was able to catch people’s attention. Thanks to the media, he now teaches this tradition to 20 apprentices.
Photos from OddityCentral.