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How to make book sculptures

The art of making book sculpture involves altering discarded books in a variety of ways to create art. Techniques for book sculpture range from cutting, folding, gluing, fanning and attaching books or parts of books to other materials. Some book sculptures still resemble the original book, perhaps with a design cut through its cover, and others become elaborate dimensional works in which the books are completely transformed. This art form offers an opportunity to develop creative vision into a sculpture, using recycled books to invent new forms.

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  1. Examine examples of book art to get ideas of the types of techniques and finished sculptures available to you. Some book sculptures have folded pages, creating shapes similar to other forms of paper sculpture and resembling simple paper decorations such as children make for holidays. Others turn the book's spine inward and cut the illustrations in the book to give them dimension, and others take the book apart entirely and reassemble it into a new shape.

  2. Work with a book or group of books to alter their shapes. Create a fan effect by folding pages toward the spine, for example. Rub each fold with the edge of a ruler to create a sharp fold, if desired.

  3. Stand the book upright, with the covers bent backward and the spine facing inward so the folded pages jut out of your book sculpture. Varying the shape and size of the folds changes the shape. For example, fold some pages in half toward the spine and others at an angle.

  4. Use scissors or a utility knife to add details to your book sculpture. Cut out the background of an illustration; trace your hand or an object onto a page and cut out the tracing or cut designs into the page edges, such as a snowflake pattern or abstract flames.

  5. Tip

    Hardback books work best for a single standing book sculpture. The hard cover gives it stability to remain standing on its own. Use an old pair of heavy-duty scissors to take books apart, if you want to use the pages as material.


    Keep utility knives out of reach of children. Keep your fingers clear of the blade when you're cutting.

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Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Ruler

About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.

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