Aluminum Ant Hill Art: Beautiful Yet Controversial

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Gatlin has not let the controversy deter him from making his ant art. He has, in fact, widened his horizon. His new works include castings of field ant colonies. The colonies of these ants appear stacked and almost fungus like. According to Gatlin, when it comes to these other ants, he tries to “find abandoned nets but it doesn’t always work out. Either way, I do it sparingly and the property is still over run with them.”

He has also casted a number of carpenter ant hill colonies in aluminium, as well. Because they can cause damage to wood, many people also consider carpenter ants as pests. Castings of carpenter ant colonies typically are simpler in appearance than those of fire ants. The one pictured here is actually more complex than usual. According to Gatlin, “Some types of carpenter ants build nests underground instead of in wood. This one is particularly chaotic in shape, compared to others I’ve done.”

Gatlin has even branched into casting non-insects. These are some mushrooms that he has recently turned into works of art. He has also been attempting to cast seashells, as well. This should make those who dislike his ant hills happy.

Of course, his castings don’t always go as he envisions. Take this metal aluminium fire ant hill sculpture. It was supposed to be another casting of an ordinary fire ant colony. But when Gatlin began pouring his molten metal into the entrance hole, he was shocked to find that it “took all 23 pounds of aluminum that I had melted.” When he dug it up, he saw why. This was not just a fire ant colony. It also contained some large tunnels that were about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. Gatlin theorized that this anthill may have either been abandoned ground squirrel tunnels that the fire ants had taken over or vice versa.

Have you fallen in love with these intricate works of art and want to purchase one for yourself? Get in line — literally. Right after his video of the casting process went viral, Gatlin was swamped with orders. By 2014, the wait list for his artwork was still at more than 300 people. He quickly realized that he could not possibly fulfill that many orders even over several years. So Gatlin decided that it was best that he no longer add any new names to his wait list. The good news for you? According to Gatlin, not all those who have expressed interest in his anthill creations end up buying his pieces. So the list is whittling down faster than he originally thought.

Although his work is on backorder, he will often fulfill special requests from museums and television shows or any other endeavor that he finds worthy of one of his pieces.

So how much can you expect to spend on one of these beautiful pieces? Approximately between $200 and $2,500, depending on the size of the aluminum fire ant sculpture and other variables.


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