Andrew Clemens (1857-1894) was an artist from Iowa who spent a large part of his life experimenting with sand. Stricken with encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) at age five, he was completely deaf and nearly mute. But, that didn’t stop him from starting to collect multi-colored sands from the state’s Pictured Rocks region beginning from when he was a teenager. Clemens fashioned special tools made from pieces of hickory and fish hooks and arranged the gathered materials into amazing, intricately detailed designs.
Clemens' images depict geometric shapes, historical figures, flowers, and nautical scenes. They are crystal clear and vibrantly colored, and it’s almost hard to believe this was all done by hand. What’s even more incredible about this artwork is that he never used any glue. Clemens relied on the pressure of the tightly-packed grains to keep his handiwork intact. It’s estimated that the artist produced hundreds of bottles during his lifetime, but much less than that survived today.