Artist Builds Vegas Sign With Cards, Dice

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By FRANCISCA ORTEGA
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 30, 2006; 7:16 AM

LAS VEGAS -- Take 500 decks of playing cards, 1,800 poker chips, 800 dice and more than a few tubes of Super Glue. Add an artist who likes to stack things and mix in some Vegas glitz. "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas," or at least welcome to a life-size replica of the famous sign made out cards, dice and poker chips.

Bryan Berg, perhaps best known for building a 25-foot castle out of playing cards, broke his no adhesive rule to build the sign for the World Series of Poker.

Berg called the sign, which is attached to a scaffolding of wood and weighs 400 pounds, a "logistical nightmare." It took about 450 hours to complete.

"It's like brain surgery," he said. "I didn't even know if it was possible."

Unlike the original at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, the replica does not have a flat front. Pockets of its face are left bare so the structure's interior design is revealed. The honeycomb pattern of the cards and their laminated covering catch the light, making it appear the sign is lighted up and shimmering in the desert heat.

It hangs above the stage in the Rio hotel-casino's convention center, where more than 8,500 entrants are competing in the main event of the World Series of Poker tournament.

A graduate of Harvard's Graduate School of Design, 32-year-old Berg began stacking cards when he was 8. At 17, he won a Guinness World Record for the world's tallest house of cards with a 14-foot-6-inch-tall tower. In 2004, he broke his own record with a 25-foot-tall recreation of Cinderella's castle.

What started as a hobby has turned into a career for Berg. He now makes sculptures out of cards full-time.

This is the first time Berg has used glue in one of his sculptures.

When Loctite Super Glue commissioned him for the project, he said he agreed only if the final design "flew, floated or hanged," _ something so people could see glue was used.

"I don't (usually) use tape, or glue anything together, and I've never even considered it. I've always been a purist," he said. "I think it's important that I'm up front about it."


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© 2006 The Associated Press

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