San Francisco artist creates Titanic from a single toothpick

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Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

The Titanic may have been the largest ship of its day, but San Francisco artist Steven J. Backman has shrunk it to the size of a toothpick.

Backman, 45, was inspired to create a replica of the ill-fated ship by the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking this year. He didn’t carve it from a single toothpick; rather he started making the miniature liner by deconstructing a single toothpick. “I cut it up into paper-thin pieces and then re-glue the toothpick back together,” he explained in a phone call Thursday.

The result is an astonishingly detailed miniature that measures 1 5/8 inches long -- a work he believes is likely the smallest toothpick Titanic in the world.


Clicking onto Backman’s online art gallery is like taking a toothpick world tour: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid are all on display, each made from a toothpick using the same technique. He says he works full-time as an artist and has been creating toothpick sculptures since he was 5 years old.

And Backman does more than small stuff.

His 13-foot-long likeness of the Golden Gate Bridge made from 30,000 toothpicks is currently on display at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco (5 Embarcadero Center) in this year of the bridge’s 75th anniversary. After that, it will move to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf where it will be on permanent display.

The Fairmont Hotel (950 Mason St.) also is showing pieces of Backman’s artwork. The show features a representational image of the hotel and two pieces of what he calls curvilinear artworks that are made from -- you guessed it -- toothpicks.