The mines were Soviet-design deep sea mines shaped like oblong metal pills, nearly 3 feet in diameter with contact projections extending off their surface like blunted insect antennae as thick as fingers. Each packed a massive 500-pound charge that could send an armored warship to a cold, watery grave.
As it turns out, they also make a delightful addition to your living room.
He has turned the mines into furniture, crafting freestanding fireplaces, desks, strange cocoon-like chairs and other objects with their own rusty, jagged aesthetic.
Karmin, a 51-year-old graduate of the Estonian Academy of Arts, said he saw the mines and was interested in their unique visual form. "I was inspired the ideal geometrical form module: two hemispheres that have a cylindrical central part between them," Karmin told AOL News. "It gives me endless opportunities to frame up different forms and shapes."
Combined with other common details in the mines like holes for blasting caps, shackles and thick ring hoops to allow the mines to be lifted, Karmin said he never had to worry that the finished surface would ever be boring.
The fireplace sculpture is a 3-foot spherical mine with a glass face reminiscent of the faceplate on a classic copper-and-brass diving helmet. The mine has been vertically pierced with a 1-foot-wide tube that serves as a stand beneath the mine and a chimney above it. The mine still bears the thick scars of the original welds, assorted bolts and screws of military design pierced with thick metal rings that look like door knockers from Hades itself.
While a lot of what Karmin makes straddles the line between usefulness and aesthetic value, he insists that all of it is functional.
Karmin says the greatest challenge for him is making that first cut, likening it to the first incision made by a surgeon, knowing that the wrong cut into the thick steel can affect the entire project, and he prefers to minimize how much he changes the original mines.
He's comfortable with what he's made so far but keeps thinking about larger and larger pieces, and hopes to find more financial support to incorporate bigger forms (made with mine shells) in urban spaces.
Karmin also wants to create something fun. "I would like to make a retrolike race car where two to three people would sit behind each other -- like in bobsleds."
If not, he can still work in smaller spaces that are only limited to how imaginative he can be with the historical remnants of war repurposed into new and creative uses.
"They carry human touch and history in themselves," Karmin said, "as most art [does]."