Clockwise from left: Cara Barer finds phone-books and computer manuals worthy of graceful
portraits. Dan McPharlin creates miniature
cardboard replicas of vintage recording equipment. Richard Sweeney’s Icosahedron blurs
the lines between nature and architecture. Jim
Rosenau’s Steps to Better Reading takes a literal
approach to book shelves.
scenes like the infamous tea party to life by
placing cutouts from Lewis Carroll’s tale amongst
a forest of life-sized books.
Some paper artists are so enthralled with their
medium that they use books in their entirety as
building blocks. Robert The, of
carves hardcovers into powerful shapes. The Art
Crisis becomes an ominous black handgun,
Jim Rosenau, of Berkeley, Calif., takes a utilitarian
approach. He constructs shelves and cases out
of various volumes. Rosenau, whose father and
maternal grandfather were publishers, made his
first bookcase from a set of 1938 encyclopedias.
“Books carry so much symbolic freight,” he says.
“But as a material, they provide color, texture,
fonts, and a pleasing form.”
Furthering the leap to functionality, Takeshi
Ishiguro designed a sort of coffee table pop-up for
Artecnica called Book of Lights, from which a simple
low-voltage lamp springs when the cover is cracked
open. Atelier Bomdesign of the Netherlands, on the
other hand, has made warm, literate lamp shades
by splaying book pages around a light bulb suspended from the ceiling.
Whether today’s paper artists are cutting, photographing, or building with the stuff, paper presents
reams of opportunity.
For more information and article sources, go to
Megan Mansell Williams is a former marine biologist who writes
about science and culture from her home in San Francisco.
An assistant editor for the UC Berkeley College of Engineering
alumni magazine, Forefront, her freelance work appears in
Discover, Inkling, MAKE, CRAF T, and Via.