Bombs kill and maim. Sometimes they fall and don’t immediately explode – but remain dangerous.
This has made for some deadly situations around the world. Take Laos, for instance, where anywhere from 20,000–50,000 people have died or been injured from unexploded ordnance since the end of the Vietnam War. Closer to home, my old friend and bandmate lost an arm when he accidentally picked up a cluster bomb in his former war-torn home.
But some artists have said “enough is enough.” They’ve decided that bombs shouldn’t just be killing machines; they should become sources of recycled scrap metal to build something greater. And that’s a potentially powerful message, isn’t it?
Below, RealClearLife has scavenged a list of items you can buy that are made out of recycled bombs, bombers, bullets, and missiles.
Spoons – You could say that Laotian company Saoban is somewhat of a “melting pot.” It brings together local families, who annually produce a number of artisan products—including 150,000 soup spoons made from recycled bombs. What makes the spoon-crafting process so difficult is the material, of course. As it were, 30 percent of those bombs dropped during Vietnam still lie around Laos unexploded, and it puts metal salvagers in great danger. Swiss NGO Helvetas has stepped in to help create a “best practices” for the salvaging and spoon-production processes, and it appears that business is, well, booming. For more information on Saoban and for price quotes, click here.
Shot Glasses – The folks over at Lucky Shot USA make man-cave-ready items out of spent munitions—and they’re so awesome, we included two. Case in point: Their recycled bullet shot glass, which has a real .308 bullet embedded in the side of it. (The company, tongue firmly in cheek, notes that it’s not safe to put in a dishwasher.) They also make a Vietnam-era MK 15 Practice Bomb bar table ($1,950), which is surprisingly aesthetically pleasing. The real fun starts when you get your brother-in-law tipsy and make him believe it’s a live warhead. For more information and to order them, click here.
Jewelry – Brooklyn-based jewelry designer Article 22 found an explosive medium to use in creating its first collection, Peacebomb. Like Saoban’s spoons, Article 22 sources local artisans in Laos to create bracelets, necklaces, and others pieces of handmade jewelry from ‘Nam-era shrapnel like bombs and plane parts. There are tons of items to choose from, all with varying prices, but we particularly like the “Love Is the Bomb” diamond bangle, which sells for $1,250. The brand also has some famous fans: Actress Olivia Wilde has been seen sporting one of their bracelets. For more on Article 22’s line and to order a piece, click here.
Electric Lamps – Brooklyn seems to be something of a bomb-art factory. Furniture designer Jake Wright, who was raised by a U.S. Air Force pilot and defense contractor, makes a number of items using warhead-less bombs under the Stockpile Designs moniker. There are table lamps made out of World War II practice bombs ($218) and polished cluster bombs ($235). However, our favorite is the Megaton Floor Lamp (see above), whose body is a 100-pound, recycled Korean War–era kinetic bomb ($1,680). For more on Wright’s designs and to order a lamp, click here.
Oil Lamps – Designer Piet Houtenbos’ hand grenade oil lamps could give you one hell of a scare if your wife, say, bought one and didn’t tell you what it was. Because, just looking at it, one could easily mistake it for a grenade that’s armed and ready to blow. Lucky for you, that’s not the case. Houtenbos fashions them out of real-deal U.S. surplus grenades, some of which he gilds in 18-karat gold. The shape of the lamp is dictated by the type of munition, so the styles include: fragmentation (pineapple-shaped); smoke and flash bomb (lemon-shaped); and high-impact explosive (ball-shaped). They’re even relatively affordable; the gold-coated versions start at $74. For more information on Houtenbos or to order one of his lamps, click here.
Conference Tables – Without a doubt, this one’s on the top of our wishlist. (We can’t help but think it would look super nice at RCL headquarters.) Made by MotoArt, a company that specializes in repurposing airplane parts into cool new objects, this one’s made from the salvaged inner wing flap of an actual B-52 bomber. If you’re wondering how big an inner wing flap on the warplane that was a major staple of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars might be, the size of the table speaks volumes: It’s 24 feet by 6 feet and covered in 1/2-inch thick glass. It doesn’t come cheap either; the limited-edition conference table sells for $75,000. For more information on MotoArt or to order one, click here.
—Will Levith for RealClearLife