Crystallized Camp and Sparkling Snacks by Jonathan Stein

Artist Jonathan Stein’s Swarovski crystal encrusted sculptures of fast food and nostalgic treats may just appear as though he’s bedazzled the typical lunch of an American, but there’s a deeper significance to his campy, glitzy pieces.

Jonathan Stein’s Swarovski Crystal Encrusted Sculptures

Take Me Out to the Ballgame 2011
Bronze, Swarovski crystals, 12 ½ x 5 ¾ x 2 ¾ inches (31.75 x 14.61 x 6.99 cm), Edition of 9
Jonathan Stein Swarovski Crystal Encrusted Sculptures

Stein’s work communicates the consumer’s desire for more – bigger, better, blingier. As well as how that which was once perceived as harmless sustenance (back in the 1950s) is actually damaging, despite its appealing appearance.

Alot-of-Spam, 2010
Hand-sculpted/cast bronze enlarged replica of original SPAM can; hand jewel encrusted with over 20,000 Swarovski crystals. 9 1/2 X 11 X 6 Inches (24.13 X 27.94 X15.24 Cm)
Swarovski Crystallized SPAM can

Eye-popping, 2010
Bronze, Swarovski crystals, mixed media
Hand sculpted and individually molded popcorn in bronze attached to a bronze fabricated popcorn box.
17 x 12 x 4 1/2 inches (43.18 x 30.48 x 11.43 cm) Edition 1/6
swarovski encrusted sculptures

Open A Smile, 2012
Hand-sculpted/cast bronze enlarged replica of a Classic Coke bottle, hand jewel encrusted with over 36,000 Swarovski crystals, 19 ¾ X 6 X 6 Inches (50.17 X 15.24 X 15.24 Cm)
Crystallized Coca Cola bottle

“I am a lover of all things campy and kitsch. From Andy Warhol to Judith Leiber, and John Waters, my list of creative influences is enormous. As an artist and consumer, I am a child of mass media and a partial slave to advertising. The “Shiny Sparkly Goes Down Easy” collection addresses my morbid curiosity with consumerism and its ever-engrossing appeal. We have become a world of “bling” where “shiny” is better and a glitzy surface can mask whatever may be rotten within or loaded with artery clogging trans fats.- Jonathan Stein”

Mid Life Crisis, 2011
Hand-sculpted/cast bronze and resin enlarged replica of Lifesavers candy; hand jewel encrusted with over 38,000 Swarovski crystals. 25″ X 15″ X 8″ Inches
life savers swarovski crystals

Bear Necessity, 2011
Hand Cast Resin, Jewel Encrusted With Thousands Of Swarovski Crystals
50 individually hand cast 2 inch resin gummy bears placed in a hand-cast and hand painted resin bag. This sculpture has an LED light fashioned at the bottom to illuminate the candy contents. Over 10,000 Swarovski crystals embellish this sculpture.
18 X 14 X6.5 Inches
hand crystallized Haribo Gummy Bears

Schmear, Eat, Love, 2012
Hand Cast Bronze, Jewel Encrusted With Thousands Of Swarovski Crystals
10 X 7 X 7 Inches
bagel lox and cream cheese swarovski crystals

“Initially, the Shiny Sparkly Goes Down Easy series began as a light-hearted parody, paying homage to iconic foods first introduced to the American Public during the 1950s. With the boom of commerce, these mass-produced “consumables” were once grand staples of a ‘proper’ American diet. However, with all the stringent health concerns facing Americans today, these items are far more dismissive and some are often considered “White Trash” delicacies. I wanted to honor where we were as a society unaware of what we know now. As this body of work continued to expand, I have furthered my exploration of the intoxicating allure and inherent threat posed by advertising specifically in the fast food arena. This work celebrates iconic items of consumption but turns a critical gaze upon those of us who “just can’t get enough.” Hungrily we gorge on iconography like that of the overly processed, high fructose induced and carb-loaded consumables that pacify us temporarily but always leave us with a fleeting yearning for more.“- Jonathan Stein

No Bull About It, 2012
Hand Cast Bronze, Jewel Encrusted With Thousands Of Swarovski Crystals
20.75 H X 8.5 W X 8.5 D Inches (45.09 X 21.6 X 21.6 Cm)
red bull swarovski

SOUPer Size Me, 2008
Hand-sculpted/cast bronze enlarged replica of original Campbell’s soup can; hand jewel encrusted with over 26,000 Swarovski crystals. 5 X 12 X 12 Inch (12.70 X 30.48 X 30.48 Cm)
hand crystallized Campbell's tomato soup can

Fishing for compliments, 2012
Hand Swarovski jewel encrusted hand cast resin, edition of 9, signed and numbered. 46 x 36 x 16,5 cm.
swedish fishes swarovski crystallized art

I began by hand sequining the packaging and setting the foods up in elaborate opulent settings before taking over-the-top commercial portraits of them. Things have evolved over the years conceptually and also in terms of art making; I now hand cast larger-than- life versions of each item in bronze, and jewel encrust each work with tens of thousands of Swarovski crystals, also applied by hand. It’s a lifetime work in progress as I explore the internal and external power that shiny, sparkling material objects play in our daily lives.” – Jonathan Stein

Bucket O’ Bling, 2007
Hand jewel encrusted with over 24,000 Swarovski crystals. An actual KFC bucket served as a prototype for a larger scale KFC statue in bronze. For true authenticity, the artist then constructed a mold and hand cast in acrylic resin a 10 piece crispy KFC chicken meal which he then gold-leafed. 7.5 X 7.5 X 7.5 Inches
jonathan stein crystal sculptures

Wake Up Call, 2010
Hand-sculpted/cast bronze enlarged replica of Dunkin Donut’s cup; hand jewel encrusted with over 36,000 Swarovski crystals. 17 3/4 X 10 Inches (45.09 X 25.40 Cm)
dunkin donuts coffee jonathan stein

Going Going Gone?, 2012
Hand Cast Resin, Jewel Encrusted With Thousands Of Swarovski Crystals
17 X 10 X 3.5 Inches (45.09 X 25.40 X 8.89 Cm)
hostess twinkies sculpture

McDonalds Meal made with Swarovski Crystals
Stein’s Value Meal has over 100,000 hand-set Swarovski crystals

From one of a kind, hand-cast acrylic resin fried chicken (fashioned from actual Kentucky Fried Chicken) to hand sculpted bronze reinterpreted Starbuck’s cups; every detail of his work strives to turn the ordinary into something far more extraordinary. Each bejeweled sculpture is comprised of tens of thousands of individually hand-placed Swarovski crystals.

There Goes My Thighs, 2011
Hand Cast Bronze, Jewel Encrusted With Thousands Of Swarovski Crystals
12 X 36 X 6 Inches
Stein toblerone chocolate bar with crystals

Gotta Get My Fix, 2008
Hand-sculpted/cast bronze enlarged replica of a Starbuck’s cup, hand jewel encrusted with over 36,000 Swarovski crystals. 7 ¾ X 10 Inches (45.09 X 25.40 Cm)
Starbucks coffee Swarovski sculpture Jonathan Stein

The Reason My People Can’t Go
Hand cast bronze matzoh protruding from a bronze fabricated box. The piece was jewel encrusted in tens of thousands of Swarovski crystals.
Crystallized Box of Passover Matzohs

To get an idea of scale and the light refractions, here’s a brief video posted by the artist:

About the Artist: (courtesy of Gallery Biba)

Jonathan Stein is an accomplished photographer, filmmaker, mixed media installationist and emerging talent throughout the South Florida art scene.

Jonathan was born in New York but raised in Coral Springs, Florida.
It was in his formidable high school years that Jonathan’s devotion to art and community involvement secured him Miami Herald’s prestigious 1996 Silver Knight Award for Art. Throughout his education, Jonathan has graduated from The New York Film Academy and received the coveted “2003 Best Photography Portfolio” from the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale. Jonathan holds a bachelor of fine arts from Boston University in Art Education and Art History.

As a fine artist, Jonathan is driven by conceptual ideas, social issues, and the inherent personal narratives that exist in all of us. Operating in a multitude of mediums, primarily photography and film, Jonathan tries to uncover what drives humanity, what forces propel or hold back an individual from ascertaining happiness, and what is most precious in nature that should go untainted by our fast-paced, multimedia, pop-saturated culture. He may generate an entire body of work that illustrates society’s fixation with weight loss – or illustrate an unlikely intimacy between a pair of discarded mannequins. Regardless of his subject matter, each creation is meticulously considered and creatively pushed, so that the viewer becomes a part of the art process, determining for him or herself how they feel about what they have been shown.

Jonathan Stein has worked with The Palm Beach Post and numerous publications in the United States. He is currently developing a number of documentary and short film projects, as well as continuing to generate new photographic and mixed media sculpture series for national and international gallery and museum exhibitions.

Jonathan Stein
Read an interview with the artist here at Worship The Brand

all images and info courtesy of Jonathan Stein and Gallery Biba