This artist uses thousands of beads to create elaborate animal portraits

At first glance, Sarah Jane Connors’ animal portraits look like high-quality photographs. Look a little closer, and they look like amazingly realistic paintings. Look closer still, and you’ll realize these pieces of art are created with a much more impressive and unconventional medium than paint: Connors creates her beautiful animal portraits with thousands of tiny beads.

Take a look:

Amazing, right? Connors told Martha Stewart Living that the idea for the bead portraits came after she was inspired to make art out of found objects. “I bought myself a glue gun and a wooden board, found a picture of an animal I wanted to recreate and then sorted through lots (and lots!) of beads.”

On her website, Connors describes being obsessed with digging up “treasure” in her backyard as a child, delighting in finding little stones, pieces of colored glass and broken pottery. Today, she considers sifting through a pile of beads and transforming it into a work of art the best kind of treasure hunt.

Connors has honed her technique over the course of the past two years, creating stunning beaded renditions of a pug, cat, leopard, panda and deer. There are no shortcuts when it comes to the painstaking process of creating a beaded work of art. Connors uses a hot glue gun to glue every single individual bead to a wood board, creating depth and texture by varying the sizes, colors and shapes of the beads. When she’s finished, she runs a hair dryer over the portrait to remove any lose beads, then seals the finished product with Mod Podge.

The process takes one to two months to complete. But as you can see from the stunning results, these intricate portraits are worth the wait. Follow Connors on Instagram and check out her website to keep up with her new art projects.

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