Hello, and welcome to the Bee’s Knees! This week, I’m going to take a look at sculptural book arts—yes, books that have been transformed into sculptures. For those of you new to the Bee’s Knees, every week I take a look at a new form of blending words and pictures to create something beautiful and nontraditional.

Anyone who’s ever written or attempted a book will tell you that books are a serious form of art, and anyone who’s ever read a book and been drawn in can testify to how the stories can come to life before your eyes. But what about when those ideas are taken to the extreme? As a child, you may have been amazed by the beauty and surprises found in pop-up books, but what if the book itself were the pop-up?

With book sculptures, a common form of the little-known book arts, old printed books can be transformed into stunning three-dimensional sculptures. These can be formed to include the whole book, and maybe more than one, or they can be cut from only a single page. Some are designed to represent actual things that happen in the book, and some are abstract works and designs adapted from the book’s pages. Others, such as this article’s cover picture of a statue by Brian Dettmer, are designed purely from the artist’s whim.

Here I have a couple examples of the different kinds of book sculptures out there. My first one is a very simple example cut from only a single spread. A man and a woman reaching out to each other in a way that is so simple but so perfect. And somehow the fact that it’s in the folds of a book makes it all the more romantic.

Book Arts

My next book sculpture is made up from a pile of books, cut to look like a person when stacked together. The approach is almost entirely different from the first, but the result is just as amazing.

Book Arts

There are many different ways in which book sculptures can be made, and sometimes libraries and bookstores display them or offer classes on how to make basic variations. Over all, book sculptures remain unique and eye-catching, and a great way to recycle the old books in the basement.

And that’s the Bee’s Knees. Come back next Friday for a new form of blending words, pictures, and creativity!