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Inside the Iron Artist live art competition: welding, bottle caps and lots of playing cards

Though the host was unfortunately neither arrayed in a cape nor other kingly attire, and there was no hilarious Japanese overdubbing, this weekend's Iron Artist live art contest at

The Other Side Arts

employed the

Iron Chef

formula to undeniable success, calling on artists to put together original works with the clock ticking and making use of a surprise "secret ingredient," in this case a deck of playing cards. On Saturday, an elite group of fourteen Denver artists gathered to battle it out in the intense heat for a crowd of about 200. Photographer Taryn Kapronica returned with the results.

See the full slide-show!

There were nine artistic categories in all (mixed media, fabric, painting, metal, spray paint, encaustic, architect and -- the most weirdly specific category -- bottle caps), and three ways to win: Most Funds Raised, Best Creative Use of Material (determined by the audience) and the grand prize, TOSA Iron Artist 2011; all the art created was auctioned off at the end of the competition. And the artists created some pretty awesome stuff:

But what's really cool, of course, is winning. It was a close call all around, but at the end of the day, this is America and there are prizes to be had. For "Most Creative Use of Materials," the audience went with Amanda Willshire, otherwise known as "bottle cap girl." Painter Milt Denny took "Most Funds Raised."

But ultimately, for sheer winning-ness, nobody could compete with Tina du Mond's playing card tree -- no surprise, then, that she also won last year for "Best Creative Use of Material." For her efforts, a fat goose and this badass periodic table element. Weirdly, it kind of looks like it's made out of copper. But whatever, a prize is a prize.

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