Book Swag is a monthly feature where I recommend five bookish products (usually on a theme) I love and think you will love too!
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This month we have a very special edition of Book Swag. Normally, I feature five bookish Etsy products by five different artisans. When I went to research book sculptures on Etsy though, I found one artist who is head and shoulders above the rest, so I decided instead to interview her and feature five of her best pieces.
Malena Valcárcel is a Spanish artist with a talent for breathing new life into old books. I asked her a few questions about her artistic journey, creation process, and favorite books.
Welcome, Malena! When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?
I had this feeling all my life, the feeling of something greater missing in my life, something through which I could express. I wasn’t allowed to be an artist as my parents always told me that I was not going to be able to live out of Art, so I studied to become a teacher and many years after, once I was old enough not to care anymore about what they thought, I broke free and dedicated all my free time to make book sculptures, paper miniatures, and anything out of book paper.
What led you down the specific path of creating book sculptures?
The idea of making book sculptures started when I saw so many books collecting dust and thrown on the floor in second-hand shops. I have also rescued books from the rubbish containers. When the recycled movement started here in Spain, second-hand books were everywhere.Check out these amazing book sculptures by Spanish artist Malena Valcárcel!Click To Tweet
Book sculpture is such a unique art form and it looks incredibly detail-oriented. How long does it take you to create each piece?
Creating with book paper is very time consuming also I focus on the details, so, the sculptures take a long time to finish. The time, of course, depends on the complexity of the piece but they normally take from two to seven weeks.
What is your artistic process? Do you plan each sculpture out in advance or do you experiment and play with it a bit?
If it is a custom order, of course, everything is planned in advance but, as I love creating new designs, every time I have free time to create, I like to experiment and, as you mentioned, play with it a bit. I always have one or two pieces around which I constantly look at and turn round so as to be inspired and illuminated and I add elements to them bit by bit until I consider they are finished.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite books or amazing books you’ve read lately?
At the moment I am reading the third volume of The Dark Tower by Stephen King, which I read (all the volumes) in the past but, when I heard about the movie, I wanted to read them again and I love the books but I didn’t like the movie.
You can visit Malena’s shop and see all her amazing book sculptures here.