The New Stuff

Michigan Mom Uses 84,000 Cents To Make One Big Penny


Grand Rapids, Michigan - Recent years of hard times had caused Wander Martich to save her pennies, and save she did; she used her cache of 84,0000 coins to construct a giant, artistic rendering of the reverse side of a US 1-cent coin.

It started back in 2006 when the mother of two went through a divorce, had her house forclosed and lost her job. That's when her 6 and 9-year-old daughters gave Mom all the change from their piggy banks. Martich poured the pennies into a large, plastic water bottle (a cornerpiece in every bachelor apartment) and continued to contribute to the jug with $20 worth of little Lincolns from each paycheck, after she found a job.

Well last year she decided to do something with that hoard of pennies; being a self-taught artist, Martich started gluing the coins to a circular board nearly 10 feet in diameter. sorting through the coins to find ones that were free of blemishes. Eventually she turned to the US Mint to get stocks of fresh, shiny coins. "I needed very shiny pennies to create the highlights," she said. "I wanted to use the different natural shades of pennies to create the image."

It took 10 hours a day over a period of three months to finish the $840 piece, which she titled, 'Helping Mom One Penny At A Time'and then she entered the work into Grand Rapids' ArtPrize Contest. Martich took sixth place, and managed to catch the eye of Edward Meyer, Vice President of Exhibits and Archives for the famous Ripley's Believe It or Not.

"Martich's giant penny was the very first piece I saw at ArtPrize 2010 out of over 1,600 entries," Meyer said in a statement. "I saw it in the distance and drove right up to it with my jaw on the ground and spent the next half-hour just awestruck at the magnitude of the piece and the story of its creation. I knew instantly I wanted to add it to the Ripley collection."

No dollar amount was listed for the sale of the dazzling disco penny, and Meyer said Martich's sculpture will be displayed in one of Ripley's Odditoriums.

Photo: Wander Martich

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