A blob of sticky old chewing gum isn’t something most of us would like to encounter when we’re strolling down the street. But one London man can’t get enough of it.
Most days you'll find Ben Wilson sprawled out on the sidewalk of his north London neighborhood.
Armed with a blow torch -- paint -- and his own fingers.
He uses recycled canvases that people spit out.
More than eight thousand of them.
The 'chewing gum man' paints finely detailed works of art on flattened pieces of gum.
He chooses to use the yucky canvas because painting ON the sidewalk is a crime.
Wilson said, “I realized I couldn't be arrested if I painted on the chewing gum.
It can take anywhere from less than an hour to three days for Ben to craft one of his sidewalk masterpieces, and judging from the amount of gum on the streets of London, he's got a whole lifetime of work ahead of him.
London resident Jesse Tartan said, “It's turning something rather horrible into something quite nice.”
His work has done more than brighten up the sidewalks.
For some residents the tiny treasures help brighten their day.
Resident Sara Rich said, “Every time I see them I think of chewing gum and how people just drop it on the street and it becomes artwork.”
In fact, his portraits have become so popular -- he's got a backlog of hundreds of requests.
And yes...he gets that it's a little gross, “I mean if you can take the very thing you find disgusting and don't like and change it into something nice, then you have a better world, don't you?
But Ben says the world would be an even BETTER place if people would just stick gum in the garbage where it belongs.
The chewing gum man says the most bizarre request he’s received came from a man asked him to paint ‘will you marry me’ on a piece of gum outside his girlfriend’s favorite shoe shop. She said yes- let’s hope they stick together!