Now, she's back on her feet -- but when she heard about the ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, the idea came almost naturally.
"Art was the only way I could tell a mass of people my story," she told Ripley's, which now owns her master work. "I wanted to share the message that anyone can do this, you just have to start somewhere. What matters isn't how much you make, but how much you save."
Martich spent up to 14 hours a day working on the piece for three months, which took sixth place at the competition.
The 1,200-pound penny measures 8 feet in diameter. The 84,000 pennies in them are worth a whopping $840... but to see honest Abe in this way is certainly priceless.