What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

Clay Play:


Eleanor Macnair

Original Photograph: “Woman” 1971 by Akira Sato ©Eleanor Macnair

Eleanor Macnair doesn’t sleep well. However, her loss of sleep is definitely our gain. She got the idea to amuse herself in the wee hours by reproducing other photographers’ work in Play-Doh. She took pictures of each of her Play-Doh sculptures and put them up on Tumblr and Instagram, thinking they would only ever entertain herself, her friends, and her few followers. But the idea caught the attention of art lovers and galleries alike. Now, she’s published one book of photos with another in the works, and her work is blowing up social media. I recommend you check out her very entertaining Instagram and Tumblr accounts. Her Instagram account also includes photos of some of her works in progress, which I found particularly intriguing.

Her process sounds deceptively simple:

“The images are produced late at night using Play-Doh, a chopping board, a highball glass as a rolling pin and a blunt Ikea knife. Each photograph takes 1-2 hours to reproduce, paring the image down to just form and colour, before being shot the next morning then disassembled back into the Play-Doh pots. The works themselves no longer exist and the Play-Doh is reused for future renderings, so these photographs are all that remain.” –Photography Now

I was initially kind of bummed that the sculptures are destroyed after they’ve been photographed, but I guess it makes sense. Play-Doh isn’t meant to last forever. And maybe the ephemeral quality of the work adds to its mystery. Enjoy!

Photograph: Eleanor MacNair

Original Photograph: “Doe Eye” from Vogue, 1950 by Erwin Blumenfeld ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Hurt” 1972 by Joseph Szabo ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: Secretary at West German Radio in Cologne 1931 by August Sander ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: Untitled by Jean-Francois Lepage ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Boxers” 1929 by August Sander ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: Helen Tamiris by Soichi Sunami ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: Untitled Polaroid by Sibylle Bergeman ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Tatiana Ryabushinskaya as Golden Cockerel” Ballet Russes, 1938 by Horst P. Horst ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “New York” 1970s by Helen Levitt ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Girl holding kitten” London 1960 by Bruce Davidson ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Audrey With Toes and Wrist Bent” 2011 by Nadav Kander ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: Untitled from the series ’Another November’ by Laura Stevens ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Woman and Man Dancing” New York, 1940s by Weegee ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: Unidentified woman by Rufus W.Holsinger ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Vivienne in the green dress” NYC, 1980 by Nan Goldin ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “The Right Eye of My Daughter Sigrid” 1928 by August Sander ©Eleanor Macnair

Untitled (1975) from the series ‘On a Good Day’ by Al Vandenberg

Original Photograph: Untitled from the series ‘On a Good Day’ 1975 by Al Vandenberg ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: “Melissa” Athens, Georgia, 1995 by Mark Steinmetz ©Eleanor Macnair

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Original Photograph: Untitled, Biloxi, Mississippi, 1972 by William Eggleston ©Eleanor Macnair

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

25 thoughts on “Clay Play:

  1. These are cute. They would look great in the video to some pop song or something like that, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What cool ideas from a cool medium. It must be amazing to catch a lovelorn look in clay.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are fantastic! As someone who has made and guddled with a heck of a lot of playdough over the years, I am impressed with her skill in sculpting it into something aesthetically pleasing and so dimensional. I suspect she would freak out if she met my kids: they take the individual colours of playdough and squidge it up into one big dun coloured blob. Not much inspiration to be found in balls of poopy coloured playdough.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well. This brings Play Doh to a whole another level. The eyes are amazing in some of these creations. I can’t even make a ball out of clay.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is awesome work you caught onto, Donna. Yes, all I could get out of Play-Doh was murky one-color lumps. But that was a long time ago, and I was just a kid …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Many of the photos she has reproduced would have been originally in black and white, including the classic one on the front of her Tumblr page. So when she mentions form (3 dimensions) and colour, those are definitely her artistic additions. The boxers are my favourite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It hadn’t occurred to me that they might be B&W, but that is really interesting. I wanted to go looking for the photos so I could post them together with their reproductions, but I ran out of time.


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