Saimir Strati sets a Guinness World Record with his Da Vinci mosaic — crafted using nails.

Being the archetype of the renaissance man for his time, Leonardo Da Vinci would probably appreciate the work of Saimir Strati, an artist from Tirana, Albania, who creates mosaics that not only use interesting ingredients, but also break records.

Strati created a mosaic depicting Da Vinci’s self-portrait. Made up of nails, it is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in the category of Art & Sculpture.

“I always have studied Da Vinci,” Strati says. “His self-portrait seemed to me modest and unfinished. I got the idea to include his self-portrait in a world record because the dimensions of the mosaic would be gigantic and only a genius such as Da Vinci could fulfill these dimensions!”

To register as a world record, industrial medium materials needed to be used to build the piece. Strati used a normal hammer and nails, with MDF as a canvas. The nails varied between 2 to 4cm, with the variation of the length of nails creating a 3-D effect. The mosaic contains more than 500kg of nails, measures 4m by 2m, and took the artist 24 days, working more than 14 hours per day, to complete.

“I have always been inspired by the ideas of the alchemists to transform a dead material into a ‘full of feeling’ art work,” Strati says.

After close to five years of experimentation, Strati chose to use MDF because natural wood, which is composed of fibers, does not allow replacement of the matter. “The nails, fixed near each other, would cause the breaking of the fibers and dissolution of the natural wood,” he says.

“This could happen with MDF, too, but after many tests I understood that the nails used to design the silhouette must perforate all the consistency of the MDF. The first phase is pretty delicate, because every circular line composing the silhouette creates the premise for failure. Not a single line is closed in circular form.

“The metamorphosis of the art work is like a monochrome drawing,” Strati continues. “It starts with the darker tonalities (chrome nails), continues with the middle tonalities (steel-nickel nails) and finishes with the light tonalities (nails made by non-oxidant material).”

Strati, a full-time artist, has also made large mosaics using toothpicks and cork, both of which are also world records. He says his influences include Michelangelo, for the artist’s exhibitionism; as well as architect and visionary Antonio Gaudi, for his organic lines.

In regards to where the mosaic has ended up, Strati says it has not gone far. “I never thought before I completed it where the art work would be exposed or sold,” Strati says. “At the moment, the Da Vinci nail mosaic is my property and is resting at my workplace in Albania, until I get an offer to buy.”

Saimir Strati with the finished mosaic (top), and hard at work during the creation of the mosaic.

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