Knitting is a popular pastime in Finland. Even the Finnish Olympic team could be seen knitting before and after their competitions at the 2018 Winter Olympics!

But Finnish artist Liisa Hietanen takes it to a whole new level with her knitted and crocheted sculptures of real-life people.

Hietanen painstakingly crochets, knits and sometimes embroiders every single piece of her sculpture — from the clothes and accessories down to the objects a sculpture is holding.

She started on this road during art school, and her first fully completed piece was "Pirkko," a sculpture of her first-grade teacher. She was inspired to use crocheting as her medium because "the technique fit the character perfectly."

old woman hands behind back knit art
'Pirkko' by Liisa Hietanen (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)

Hietanen's process begins with the people in her village, Hämeenkyrö, Finland. She asks them to model. "We then meet and create the pose," Hietanen told MNN. "I photograph the person from all directions and take a few measurements."

Hietanen mostly works off the photographs. However, when she starts working on the face and hands, she meets with the model again. "We might go for coffee or lunch. Meanwhile, I study their characteristics."

By watching her model's mannerisms, Hietanen is able to perfectly capture their personality and mood.

Liisa Hietanan mom breastfeeding infant
Hietanan relies on photos as the foundation for her work. (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)

To ensure the sculptures stand or sit upright, Hietanen uses rebar to shape and structure the sculpture and cement for weight. Then, she fills it with soft materials to help give the shape a life-like appearance.

Liisa Hietanen mom breastfeeds baby
Hietanan perfectly captured the bond between mother and baby in 'Anna.' (Photo: Marjaana Malkamäki /Liisa Hietanen)

Hietanen compares her work to sculpting with clay. "The form is only made differently line by line," said Hietanen. "There are certain proportions I look at in the face and have a system of how I translate it into crocheting, and part of the work is shaping the crocheted parts by sewing."

Liisa Hietanen sibling art
Liisa Hietanen's work is perfectly summed up with this life-sized replica of her brother. (Photo: Marjaana Malkamäki /Liisa Hietanen)

Hietanen began crocheting and knitting when she was 10 years old, and she began crocheting sculptures while attending art school. She also paints, but she says crocheting is her favorite medium. She created this realistic replica of her brother.

Liisa Hietanen Weijo art
Hietanen will meet with people so she can study their facial expressions and perfectly capture it in her crocheting. (Photo: Marjaana Malkamäki /Liisa Hietanen)

"The technique has become a way of thinking. It is continuous and present and allows a portrait to slowly find its character," Hietanan said on her website. The photo above is a detail from "Weijo," which you can see at top.

Liisa Hietanen young woman on tree branch
'Mimosa' features a girl sitting on a tree branch. All of it is crocheted — even the leaves! (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)

"I study the essence of familiarity and shared experiences. I meet the same familiar strangers every day on the street and our common world is the size of a small village. I am depicting the present moment by portraying my own surroundings, but at the same time I am bringing out something common to us all."

Liisa Hietanen young girl branch artwork
'Mimosa' is permanently on display at the center in Hämeenkyro, Finland. (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)
Liisa Hietanen woman with camera art
Hietanen shows off her elaborate skills in 'Sirpa.' She is able to bend the sculptures fingers in a realistic manner. (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)
crochert art sculpture
'Tapio' by Liisa Hietanen (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)
knitted art sculpture man
'Matti' by Liisa Hietanen (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)
knitted bananas art
Hietanen even knits everyday objects with realistic accuracy. (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)

Hietanen doesn't just create crocheted people; she also makes sculptures of everyday items like this bag of bananas.

crochet german food art
Hietanen created 'Die Röhrende Wurst' for an art exhibition in Berlin showcasing traditional German objects. (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)

... or this plate.

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Hietanen even knitted and crocheted an entire bathroom! (Photo: Liisa Hietanen)

But she doesn't stop there. Her exuberance for the craft is best summed by this complete bathroom — even down to the trash in the bin and the toilet paper!

For an up-close look at this particular project, check out the video below.

Hietanen is currently working on a project called "Villagers," which features crocheted work of people who live in her village who she sees on a regular basis.

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