Saigon man makes replicas of iconic buildings from toothpicks

By Diep Phan   November 14, 2020 | 10:19 am GMT+7
Famous landmarks like One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi have become miniatures made of toothpicks and mica in Hoang Tuan Long's skilled hands.
Hoang Tuan Long, 46, has pursued his hobby of collecting building replicas for years. In 2012, he started making replicas on his own by combining materials such as strings and pieces of formex, but did not succeed. Four years later, he found out that toothpick (made of a kind of bamboo) and mica were perfect materials to make replicas. Since then, he has made several building replicas such as the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, the White House, Big Ben... Earlier this year, the World Records Union (Worldking) recognized Long as the person making the most replicas from toothpick and mica.

Hoang Tuan Long, 46, was for long pursuing a hobby of collecting building replicas. In 2012 he tried to make his own from materials such as strings from musical instruments and pieces of formex, but without success.
Four years later he discovered that bamboo toothpicks and mica were the perfect materials. Since then he has made miniatures of the One Pillar Pagoda, the White House in the U.S., Big Ben in the U.K., and other landmarks.

According to Long, he initially made replicas as a hobby and had no intention to earn money from them. It was not until 2020 that some of his friends told him to commercialize his passion. But I do not make them in mass number to earn more money. I have some requirements such as the samples must be beautiful, because I want to conquer the difficulties. And clients should not push me or bargain. In return, they can return the products if they are not satisfied when receiving, Long said.

He initially made them as a hobby and had no intention of earning money from them. Recently some of his friends told him to monetize his passion.
He says: "But I do not make them in large numbers to earn more money. I have requirements such as they must be beautiful. And buyers should not push me or bargain. But they can return the item if they are not satisfied."

Before starting his constructions, Long always reads their specifications, looks at their photos and draws them virtually on his computer.

Before starting, Long always reads about a structure’s dimensions, checks out their photos and draws them first on his computer.

Laser-cut mica pieces, 2-mm thick, are connected by toothpicks and glue. These pieces are the base for the ‘buildings.’

Laser-cut mica pieces, two-milimeter thick, are stuck together with the toothpicks and glue to form the base.

After putting those toothpicks to the holes, I use small pliers to cut the exceeded parts. This work requires me to be careful and meticulous, Long said.

"After putting the toothpicks into the holes, I use small pliers to cut the excess. This task requires care and meticulousness."

In 2016, his artworks, a miniature of the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi and made of 100,000 toothpicks in six months, was recognized as the biggest one Pillar Pagoda replica made of toothpicks in Vietnam. In the photo, Long is working on a miniature of the All Saint Church in Minks, Belarus, where he spent years living during his college life. The replica is made of 200,000 toothpicks in more than four months.

Long works on a miniature of the All Saint Church in Minsk, Belarus, where he went to university. Made of 200,000 toothpicks it has taken more than four months to make.

Miniature of the cross in Tan Dinh Church in Saigon’s District 1. To make it more recognizable, Long created patterns of the church’s windows in the cross.

A miniature of the cross at Tan Dinh Church in Saigon’s District 1. Long created patterns of the church’s windows in it so that people can recognize it.

These owl heads took Long one week to make. The artisan usually makes many variations of his favorite products to improve his skills and creativity.

These owl heads took Long one week to make. The artisan usually makes many variations of his favorite products to improve his skills and creativity.

Khue Van Cac, the pavilion of the Constellation of Literature located inside the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, also has a toothpick replica.  A notable feature in Long’s products is that he creates vacancies among toothpicks, allowing him to have lighting effects.

Khue Van Cac, the pavilion of the Constellation of Literature located inside the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. A notable feature of Long’s works is that he leaves gaps between the toothpicks, allowing him to light them up.

The U.S. Capitol Building, once exhibited in the U.S., was given to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum in Dubai, UAE.  The Capitol Building miniature is too glorious to be true. It is a favorite item in our famous collection. Buying this was the most successful business we had in 2016, said a vice head of the museum’s department of exhibiting and archiving, said.

A miniature of the Capitol Building, once exhibited in the U.S., was given to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum in Dubai.
"The Capitol Building miniature is too glorious to be true," a deputy head of the museum’s department of exhibiting and archiving, said.
"It is a favorite item in our famous collection. Buying this was the most successful business we did in 2016."

In the last four years, Long also worked on his toothpick replicas after his working hours.  He plans to share his hobby with more students, so they can work and create more architecture replicas together and learn about them visually. Then, they can organize exhibitions to introduce bamboo toothpick and Vietnamese artisans to international friends. This will create jobs for orphans and the disabled, Long maintained.

Long plans to teach his skill to other people.
"They can organize exhibitions to introduce bamboo toothpicks and Vietnamese artisans to foreigners. This will create jobs for orphans and disabled people."

 
 
go to top