Artist Creates Magical Storybook Worlds–Literally

Emma Taylor is a lover of books, not only for the stories they hold inside, but as beautiful objects as well. It might seem strange, then, that showing her appreciation of them involves scissors and glue, but we think that in the end, her love of books shines right through. 

Taylor uses books, particularly older ones, as a platform to create paper sculptures of incredible detail. Usually, the sculptures, which are painstakingly created using strips of the book’s own pages, are created using inspiration from the book itself. A copy of The Wind in the Willows, for example, features Ratty and Mole in their boat, and a book featuring tales from the sea is home to an incredibly detailed ship, complete with sails and rigging. Taylor will usually read the book in order to gain some inspiration for her pieces. “I would say I read the book to assist with the design but not to inspire the whole piece, instead the initial inspiration comes from seeing the book and the title. It does make a lovely excuse to be able to sit and read a book though–not that one is ever needed,” she says in an interview.  

The Wind in the Willows

“Summer Reading”

The Courtship of Animals


Many of the sculptures are supported by wire armatures under the paper, and they are left uncolored, with only the pages’ natural color and print. The details are abundant, but sometimes they require a closer look–just like reading a story. The sculptures, trees, ships, people and animals, seem to emerge from the pages with a life of their own. She also favors books that have a bit of personal history outside of just their printed contents, such as an inscription, a bookplate, or something between the pages.


“Summer Reading,” in its entirety

“The Shadow of the Past”

The tag reads “From within a book/row on row/a forest of knowledge/continues to grow/While brackets and commas/flourish and bloom/we fear the end/begins to loom.”

Ships and Sailing: Tales of the Sea


Taylor’s artwork is not without controversy, though. There are some who feel that cutting up a book is tantamount to vandalism, and that books, no matter their condition or usefulness, should be preserved and treated with reverence. Taylor, however, disagrees, and says that whether we like to admit it or not, books do expire, and sometimes creating an art piece out of them is a better way to celebrate the importance of books and stories than simply letting them languish on a shelf. She does, however, adhere to a few rules when it comes to selecting books for her pieces:

“Firstly,” she says, “I never use books that have a prominent historical importance. Obviously every book has played some part in history however small and the evidence of this is something which I love about old books – the inscriptions in the cover or a letter slipped in the pages; but I would never use a first edition or a book from a limited print run. I am always on the look-out for books which are damaged beyond repair, as I use the paper from these to make my sculptures; these books are usually found in the reduced box as they have little value and so no one is interested in repairing them.” 


Books in books made out of books.


Each project includes meticulous detail and lots of snipping.


By using damaged or otherwise unwanted books, she brings a new life into them and a new appreciation for the stories they hold. Taylor is also dedicated to sharing her art in an afforable way, and sells prints of her artwork on her Etsy shop. 

All images Emma Taylor

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