in Design

Incredible Detailed Small Scale Worlds And Landscapes Made By Human

Matthew Albanese‘s work involves the construction of small-scale meticulously detailed models using various materials and objects to create emotive landscapes. Every aspect from the construction to the lighting of the final model is painstakingly pre-planned using methods which force the viewers perspective when photographed from a specific angle. Using a mixture of photographic techniques such as scale, depth of field, white balance and lighting I am able to drastically alter the appearance of my materials.

This is a test shot for his new piece “How To Breathe Underwater” The purpose of this is to determine how well the materials and lighting will work together. The lighting was achieved using six different strobes various filters and video projection. The challenge now is applying this to a larger scale. The coral is made out of wire, tulle, beads, cast wax, jellybeans, fabric glitter, preserved starfish & walnuts. This image has not been Photoshoped.

Diorama made using painted parchment paper, thread, hand dyed ostrich feathers, carved chocolate, wire, raffia, masking tape, coffee, synthetic potting moss and cotton.

Diorama made from wood, moss, yellow glitter, clear garbage bags, cooked sugar, scotch-brite pot scrubbers, bottle brushes, clipping from a bush in bloom (white flowers) clear thread, sand, tile grout (coloring), wire, paper and alternating yellow, red and orange party bulbs.

“DIY Paradise”

cotton, salt, cooked sugar, tin foil, feathers & canvas.


25 pounds of sugar cooked at varying temperatures (hard crack & pulled sugar recipes) It’s basically made out of candy. salt, egg whites, corn syrup, cream of tartar, powdered sugar, blue food coloring, india ink & flour.
Three days of cooking, and two weeks of building.  Purchase this piece here  Matthew Albanese on Igavel

“Everything We Ever Were” It took two months to store up enough fireplace ash to create this lunar landscape.  The darker rocks are made of mixed tile grout, flag crumpled paper & wire. The Earth is a video still projected onto the wall.  Inspired by the Apollo 11 mission.

Tornado made of steel wool, cotton, ground parsley and moss

Paprika Mars. Made out of 12 pounds paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and charcoal

volcano, “Breaking Point”, made out of tile grout, cotton, phosphorous ink. this model volcano was illuminated from within by 6-60 watt light bulbs.

Burning Room, Made of wood, nylon, plexiglass, purchased dollhouse furniture. The model was actually set on fire to achieve this effect.

Sugarland, Made out of 20 pounds of sugar, jello and corn syrup. The crystals were grown in my studio over the course of two months.

“Salt Water Falls” Model made out of glass, plexiglass, tile grout, moss, twigs, salt, painted canvas & dry ice. The waterfall was created from a time exposure of falling table salt.

Fields, After the Storm. This model is simply made out of faux fur(fields), cotton (clouds) and sifted tile grout(mountains). The perspective is forced as in all of my images, and the lighting effect was created by simply shifting the white balance.

Aurora Borealis. This one was made by photographing a beam of colored light against a black curtain to achieve the edge effect. The trees were composited from life ( so far the only real life element in any of these images) The stars are simply strobe light through holes in cork board.

This one is a mixture of many different materials, tile grout, moss, bottle brushes (pine trees) Actual clippings from ground cover and was built on top of  standard outdoor patio table (water glass).  The sky is canvas painted blue. Coloring was again achieved by shifting white balance.

Mars # 2. Again, Paprika, cinnamon, thyme, chili powder, charcoal,  This is the first landscape he ever created.

This was another experimental view of mars. The materials, paprika, cinnamon and chili powder (planet) and coffee and sugar (starfield) were sifted over the floor of my studio.  The planet was photographed from 12 feet in the air. Although it looked cool, he abandoned this flat method of modeling because in the end he felt it too illustrative next to all the other landscapes.

If you are a fan of his work please take a moment to visit his facebook fanpage here: Matthew Albanese fanpage .

Be sure to see his work currently on exhibit at MAD. Click the following link for details:
Otherworldy at Museum of Arts & Design


Alexandru is the co-owner of TopDesignMag. “If it looks easy, it's hard. If it looks hard, it's impossible. If it looks impossible, it's due tomorrow. At 8 A.M.”