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Student 'coin artist' gives cash new angles

(Global Times)

17:01, September 26, 2011

For Xiong Yi, a 20-year-old engineering mechanics junior at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, the secret of his sudden fame is nothing more exotic than simple, everyday coins.

“All I need is a few hundred one-yuan coins to make the most spectacular sculptures,” Xiong said of his unique works of art that have spread like wildfire on Chinese social-networking sites recently. “The peacock and the London Bridge are particularly popular.”

Indeed, as of last week, his pictures posted on renren.com had been visited 30,000 times and forwarded more than 100,000 times.

Xiong’s coin-collecting hobby evolved from passing interest into full-fledged obsession, and he first got the idea to try his “coin sculptures” after seeing photos of a similar endeavor posted online.

“They didn’t look too complex or hard to build,” he said. “I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult to emulate.”

Since then, it’s gotten to the point where one sculpture will only take him about 20 to 40 minutes to complete.

“The secret lies in patience, balance and a steady hand,” he said. “People think I’m cheating by using glue or something, but it’s really just a matter of gravity and friction. My roommates can tell you – I’ve never opened a single bottle of adhesive for one of my sculptures.”

To rebut such online rumors, Xiong taught a reporter from the Hangzhou-based City Express to complete an elaborate coin sculpture of her own.

“She did an incredible job,” he said. “She can tell you that it’s not about possessing sophisticated knowledge of mechanics – you just need to practice and try again if you fail.”

Xiong said his newfound fame has also brought a number of challenges – most notably, several people hoping to best his skills in the coin sculpture-building department.

“I’ve been challenged by people all over China, from my own backyard to as far away as Chongqing,” he said. “I don’t mind, though – in fact, it keeps me on my toes, like playing a game.”

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