In this DIY age of recycling, upcycling, and repurposing, it seems that nothing is off the table. Old bike tires? Let’s make ‘em into jewelry! Got a lot of wine corks? How about making a cool bulletin board? As for cast-off and faded books, the spines have been carved into landscapes, the pages have been cut up and the words rearranged, and who can argue with the eternal utility of a perfectly-sized book wedged under the lame leg of a couch?
In the field of paper art, Swedish artist Cecilia Levy is doing some amazing things with those vintage books (and comics) gathering dust. Through a meticulous process of cutting, shredding, tearing and pasting, Levy creates fantastical versions of ordinary things: dainty cups and saucers, fancy flowers, delicate orbs, and ghostly eggs. Perusing her work is like taking a stroll with Alice through Wonderland. She even has a series of shoes, though given the fragility of the material they can’t be worn, nor can tea be poured into any of her pretty cups. Levy’s creations are simply to be admired.
She started out in the bookbinding business, but it wasn’t a very big leap to go from putting books together to taking them apart. Her background in graphic design informed her first experiments in 3-dimensional shapes, and after completing a few whimsical bowls Levy realized that she had found her material. She fell in love with the imperfections in each sheet, gained through age and use, as well as the delicate nature of paper which allows the personality of each page to come through. The text also plays a large part in Levy’s work, emphasizing the significance of memory and her love of typography.
She describes her craft as a slow and meditative one: “I feel humbled by the traces of previous owners: dedications, scribbles in the margins, all signs of the passage of time. The book is recreated in a way, but takes on a new form. The two-dimensional becomes three-dimensional.” So, book-lovers, while the idea of scissors coming anywhere near a book gives you the chills, you can rest assured that every page is well-cared for, and in a sense, given new life.
Take a virtual tour of Levy’s magical paper world here to see books in a whole new light.