US artist goes ‘nuts’ with Northern Ireland celebrities including Christine Lampard and Liam Neeson

Some of Northern Ireland and Ireland’s favourite faces have been immortalised as miniature works of art – using monkey nuts.

The man behind the celebrity snacks is Steve Casino from New York, who believes himself to be the world’s only peanut artist.

Some of Steve Casino's monkey nut creations

Some of Steve Casino's monkey nut creations

He was commissioned to create nine celebrity nuts – including Rory McIlroy, Christine Bleakley, Liam Neeson and Jamie Dornan – by Portadown company Forest Feast for its Halloween campaign.

Mr Casino told the News Letter: “I recognised some of the people they asked me create in monkey nut form – Liam Neeson, the kid from One Direction. I’d say I knew about half of them. I worked off photographs and then posted the finished products over to Northern Ireland.”

The project took around 180 hours in total, roughly 20 hours per nut.

Mr Casino commented: “I get all sorts of commissions. A company in the UK who produces almond milk hired me to recreate the Royal family out of almonds for the Royal wedding.”

Liam Neeson in monkey nut form

Liam Neeson in monkey nut form

Explaining how he got started as monkey nut artist, Mr Casino, an employee with Bangzoom toy design company, said: “I was just looking for a hobby and started drawing all my co-workers on monkey nuts. I realised each nut is shaped like a human. I can match anyone’s body shape to a monkey nut.

“Then I moved on to celebrities. I think Elton John was the first. I got more elaborate and learned how to paint the nuts as well.”

Explaining his own unusual surname, the 52-year-old said: “When my family came over to America from Italy we were Casini. The name got changed to Casino at Ellis Island (an immigration gateway to the US).”

Forest Feast have commissioned Mr Casino to produce two further nut creations.

Monkey nut artist Steve Casino

Monkey nut artist Steve Casino

Using the hashtag #makemeamonkeynut on social media they are calling on people to nominate themselves, partners, parents or colleagues to be turned into monkey nuts.

The competition runs until October 31.

Andrea Cahill from Forest Feast explained: “We love the fun associated with Halloween and wanted to create a campaign that customers could really get involved in – and what’s better than having a true likeness of yourself created as a monkey nut or seeing some of your favourite celebs done the same way.

“Steve’s attention to detail is amazing and we’re delighted to have found someone who is as nuts about monkey nuts as we are.”