December 22, 2015

Book Sculpture (Part III)

        Here is my last collection of book sculptures (at least for now!)  These are mostly back to the more typical approach to the medium: using a book as a base and the pages as a material for building shapes and figures.  There are still some interesting things going on, though.  In this first piece, by Thomas Wightman, the book is opened 90° and the train is driving right out of the tunnel in the pages.  The train itself is beautifully detailed.  I especially like the coal car’s cargo of little letters, that spill out as the train derails.  Although the sculpture is actually meant to illustrate the effects of OCD, it makes me imagine that letters or words are mined deep in the book mountains, and transported to writing markets by trains running day and night…
        Su Blackwell has made an incredible number of cool book sculptures in a variety of styles.  I’ve picked out a few of my favorites.  Although the tree house sculpture is simply placed atop the book without really using it as anything more than a base, this one is made exceptionally lovely by the use of light.  Blackwell includes light in many of her pieces, and I think it can add a wonderful magic, implying that there really is someone living in there.  The light is a major focus of the lighthouse, as well, and that sculpture also uses the book base a little more, as those pages have become the ocean with a lot of texture and rough cutting.  Blackwell also does a lot with the texture of her buildings, giving them individual roof tiles, or growing ivy, or other cool details.
        I love this entire street of narrow buildings with their steep front steps.  Notice the bird flying above.  It’s supported on a black wire that pokes up from below, and Blackwell uses this technique a lot.  She especially seems to favor owls, and you can see one in the beautifully eerie woods.  It illustrates one of the most atmospheric fairy tales I know, “Jorinde and Joringel.”  This one’s a little different by being built in a shadow box for a frame.  Note that Blackwell builds her structures from individual sheets of paper: flat sides for the flat sides of buildings, wrapped papier maché style for the twisty trunks and branches of the trees, cut into thin strips or fringes to make railings, grasses, feathers, and so on.
        Now compare that with the construction technique on my last picture.  Rather than being hollow shapes, made of rolled tubes, or flat sides of paper joined into cubes, all the thickness of the forms is multiple layers of stacked paper.  The hull of the ship is a solid block of paper, and the body of the octopus is solid layers of strips.  The suckers are little stacks of paper circles, enough to build up the desired thickness.  I also really like the way the book is open off-center, and the way the octopus pierces through the top pages.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the artist of this cool piece.  I found it on a web site that gave no attribution for any of its pictures, and despite lots of searching, I found the picture pinned several more times, but never with any
information.  (Have I ever mentioned before how much I hate Pinterest and its set-up scientifically designed to optimize the ease with which thoughtless people can steal other people’s artistic work?  Grrr…)
        Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this array of fantastic book sculptures, making the pages come alive in a different way from reading.

[Pictures: Derailing my train of thought, book sculpture by Thomas Wightman (Image from (where you can also see some photos of his construction process));
The House in the Oak Tree, book sculpture by Su Blackwell, 2015;
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, book sculpture by Blackwell, 2014;
The Globe and Mail, Canada, book sculpture by Blackwell, 2010;
Jorinde and Joringel, book sculpture by Blackwell, 2010 (Images from;
Octopus or kraken, book sculpture by unknown artist (If anyone can identify this, I’d love to hear it!)]

No comments: