In a style that seems to be inspired by the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, a company called Platinum Sphere Portraits (PSP) can immortalize your likeness using 13,000 platinum beads, ranging in size from 2mm to 5mm.
Just as Lichtenstein produced his art one comic-color dot at a time, PSP’s master craftsmen render an image by meticulously hand placing platinum spheres as precious “pixels” in the portrait grid. Each sphere has a stem (similar to an earring post) that is pushed into a pre-drilled hole.
Like a black-and-white newspaper “halftone,” where uniform rows of large and small black dots are printed on white paper to deceive the eye into seeing shades of grey, the platinum spheres of varying sizes accomplish the same effect. Interestingly, the shading is created by the platinum sphere itself and the shadow that it casts.
Each piece of art measures approximately 32 inches by 23 inches and utilizes 1,000 grams of platinum. The precious metal value is approximately $51,000, but the finished piece is priced at $500,000. Larger versions that require 3,500 grams of platinum are priced at $1 million.
A platinum portrait demands a superb image, so PSP actually sends a photographer to the subject’s location for a multi-hour photo shoot. Once selected, the preferred image moves to the company’s computer graphics production department, where under the creative direction and supervision of a talented CG artist and art director, every single platinum ball is mapped out with precision.
According to the company, once the overall layout, number of platinum balls and the portrait’s dimensions are approved by the client, the order is sent to the factory where platinum ball production commences.
The final step of the operation requires at team of artists to meticulously place each of the 13,000 platinum spheres in its precise location.
Here’s a short video that outlines how the platinum spheres are fabricated and how the portrait comes together. You can also learn more at the company’s web site, PlatinumSpherePortrait.com.