Book sculpting is the art of transforming a book into a work of art. While destroying the literary value is uncomfortable for some, the visual impact of the ensuing artwork is ultimately worthwhile of the sacrifice. The amount of time and effort involved will determine how detailed the work is. However, book sculptures vary from simple to extremely detailed. Powerful visual imagery may be achieved either way. There are several ways sculpting a book can be accomplished.
Hardcover books are a good choice of medium, and the choice of many artists who work in this medium. This might be because of both their sturdiness, and overall perceived better quality than paperback books. A hardcover book also provides its own solid structure for creating a book sculpture that either stands on its own or hangs on the wall.
Ideas and inspiration for creating a book sculpture should be found from the title of the book, a theme, or idea of the book, or even the cover design. This will help the viewer make a connection between the literature and the art. For example, a book sculpture I am in the process of creating is of a bottle being tossed around the ocean. The title of the book is Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks.
Techniques vary with each sculpture, although I try to maintain the integrity of the medium by creating the sculpture almost entirely out of the book. Starting with a sharp box or exacto-knife, remove just the center out of several book pages. These pages can then be rolled, folded, or attached, shredded, pulped, or otherwise manipulated in whatever way you need to create your design idea. The pages are either now your base, or armature, for a more detailed design, or a complete design on their own.
Some book artists choose simply to remove content from the books, and part of the cover, so the images that remain create the sculpture. Some artists create abstract representations. Books also can be attached together, and they can be carved using a saw or carving tool. Imagination and creativity determine the techniques involved.
Book sculptures are unique additions to bookshelves, sofa tables, and libraries. They are easy conversation starters, and every piece tells a story.