In 2012, Bristol-based artist Diana Beltrán Herrera (previously) began sculpting impeccably layered paper birds and other wildlife as a way to record her surroundings. Her lifelike pieces continuously have captured nature’s finely detailed and minuscule elements, like the fibrous texture of feathers and the veins running through leaves.
Today, the artist has expanded the practice to include exotic species and environments she’s never seen up close, developing her paper techniques to express the more nuanced details of the shapes and textures she studies in biology books. Now focusing on the structural elements of fungi, fruit, and florals, Beltrán Herrera shares with Colossal:
Paper as a medium for documentation allows me to register and create notions and ideas of subjects that I have not experienced in real life but that I can experience when a sculpture is completed. I like this approach because it is not harmful, and through my work, I can show and tell my viewers about the things I have been learning, of the importance of nature just by researching and making it myself.
Much of her work centers on conservation efforts and environmental justice. For example, a recent commission by Greenpeace UK bolstered the organization’s Plastic Free Rivers campaign. ” I am constantly looking for more subjects that are relevant to the times we are living in, so that through my work I can communicate important information that can educate or just make things more visible. The approach is very (graphic) and visual, which helps to deliver a message,” she says.
Beltrán Herrera’s upcoming projects include a commission for a coral sculpture, in addition to plans to launch a studio with her brother by the end of 2020. Her hope is to merge graphic and digital design with her paper pieces, potentially adding in animation, as well. Ultimately, her goal is to dive into larger projects. “I don’t see my work as something I want to know how to make and stay safe, but as a challenge, that will always allow me to wonder how to execute and create things that were never made with paper,” she says.
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Hundreds of Intricately Cut Layers Compose Impeccably Detailed Wildlife Sculptures by Patrick Cabral
Manila-based artist Patrick Cabral (previously) layers paper incised with decorative motifs and lacy patterns into dazzling sculptural portraits of wildlife. Ribbed tentacles with alternating gold and white dangle from an octopus, while elegant pieces comprise a rhinoceros’s exterior. Each multi-layered work contains hundreds of individual paper pieces that are entirely hand-cut.
The crowned lion (shown below) spans more than five feet and is one of Cabral’s largest projects to date. “Working on a piece like this is a paradox. It’s a lot of work that usually spans around 3 months. I love the whole process of cutting because it’s sort of meditative for me,” he writes on Instagram. “It’s opposite though once I started assembling the pieces together because it becomes really stressful (especially) on pieces as big as this.”
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A measure of well-written fiction is its ability to provoke clear images in the minds of its readers. For Bethany Bickley, though, the joy of envisioning protagonists and scenery has a more literal element. The Savannah-based artist utilizes pages torn from classics, magazines, and contemporary works to fashion distinctive paper sculptures of clenched fists, a lounging reader, and a trio of masks. Each figurative work serves as a tangible representation of otherwise imagined visuals.
Among her bookish sculptures are the iconic pear tree from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, a seated Esther Greenwood from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and an amalgam of weapons and detective objects to symbolize the thriller genre. In a statement, Bickley said she merges narrative and imagery “to tell a story with impact and purpose. If there are no visuals, I create them.”
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For a hypochondriac, any sense of pain or discomfort can be a point of fixation, something specifically known as somatic symptom disorder. This type of obsession inspired paper artist Julie Wilkinson to create a project that would not only distract her from this consuming condition but also bring awareness to an often misunderstood disorder. Her project is aptly titled Manifestation.
Wilkinson told Fubiz that she’s “been hypochondriac for as long as I can remember, and I have always had a fascination with medicine and the psychology related to certain conditions. This project was a way of visualizing the endless cycle that hypochondriacs often find themselves in, where every feeling is magnified, amplified, and where one little ache can turn into multiple symptoms—real or imagined—which take up our thoughts entirely.”
These layered illustrations of anatomical parts in a mandala motif were cut by Wilkinson with none other than a scalpel. The result is a visual expression of somatic symptom disorder—a dizzying array of magnified and multiplied sensations across various interconnected body parts and systems. The mandala is befitting of the meditative and healing nature of the project.
Wilkinson and Joyanne Horscroft make up the transatlantic creative duo behind Makerie Studio. While Wilkinson lives in New York, Horscroft is based in London. Not only are they master paper artists but they’re also set designers, who create imaginative and exquisitely detailed paper sculptures for window displays, events, advertising, and special artistic commissions. They’ve gained the attention of Google, Gucci, Nike, and Victoria’s Secret, to name a few. Wilkinson and Horscroft have developed their own unique paper techniques and are inspired by nature, steampunk mechanicals, and whimsical worlds.
Follow Makerie Studio’s magnificent paper creations and installations on Instagram.
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We’ve been admirers of Lisa Lloyd’s meticulous birds and bees crafted from countless strips of paper for a while, and the London-based artist now is offering an amusing tutorial to create her tiny paper prawns at home. The downloadable instructions, which are available for free on her site, are complete with a printable template and a supply list. She also released a simple video series for those who prefer visual learning.
Lloyd tells Colossal that before the coronavirus outbreak locked down nations around the world, she was crafting a life-size bald eagle with a two-meter wingspan. Soon after the U.K. imposed quarantine restrictions, she decided to shift her focus to a smaller project. “I wanted to create a free papercraft tutorial that was fun and different and could be made using materials found around the home… such as cereal boxes and printed card(s),” she says.
Check out the delightful crustaceans people have been crafting under the hashtag #paperprawn, and share your own, too.
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San Francisco-based artist Zai Divecha fashions countless pleats, creases, and flaps for her monochromatic paper sculptures. From geometric tessellations to flat sheets with dozens of rounded cuts and points, Divecha’s pieces accentuate the relationships between light and shadow and natural and manufactured elements.
Her inspiration is wide-ranging and includes “bathroom tiles, clouds, storm drains, the ‘skeletons’ of dead cactuses, peeling bark, raindrops on a car window, rock formations, ornate screens in Islamic architecture.” The artist also has woven data into her textured pieces, creating four artworks that represent HIV and AIDS diagnoses in San Francisco from 1992 to 2018. Each piece contains a series of cut flaps to visualize the number of cases.
In a statement, Divecha said her fascination with paper is derived from transforming an ephemeral, mundane substance into a permanent artwork. Only recently has she employed a single color. “The all-white palette allows me to create pattern and texture with just light and shadow alone, which feels soothing to me. I aim to create work that makes people feel centered, quiet, and focused,” she said. “I want my work to feel like a respite from an overstimulating world.” The move coincided with a switch in her personal life to limit her sensory input, meaning she forgoes fragrance and sets strict boundaries on the noises she consumes.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
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