Many people give away old books, but one talented artist turns them into masterpieces instead. Meet Alejandro Gil, a skilled book sculptor, musician, nature lover, and artist from Barcelona, Spain. A well-rounded guy, he’s happiest when creating intricate sculptures from old books and watching his ideas take form.
Here’s how he got into this exciting art field and what it takes to make stunning works of art.
Accomplished Artist Transforms Old Books into Beautiful Sculptures
Alejandro describes himself as a book carver, not a typical job title by any means. For him, an ordinary workday involves hours upon hours of sculpting books using only a few tools. In the video, it appears he’s carving the books using just a ruler, boxcutter, a cutting mat, pencil, and glue.
Of course, he first draws the image he wants to carve onto the book. The outline makes it easier to cut the design and add intricate details. He also utilizes computer programs that help him visualize the image he wants to create.
To date, he’s carved quite impressive works of art from the old books. This type of artistry takes a ton of patience, as it requires carving through hundreds of pages at times. For Alejandro, though, it’s worth it to repurpose the old books into something beautiful.
Some of the notable carvings he’s created thus far include:
a carved T-rex fossil head
the Sagrada Familia, a massive unfinished Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona
faces of people
a giant Fender guitar using three old books
an ancient Roman bridge in Asturia
a surfer riding a giant wave in Hawaii
a mountain landscape
a desert landscape complete with canyons, caves, and natural waterways
the Paris Arc of Triumph, one of the most famous monuments in Paris
It’s unclear how long it takes him to create the book carvings, but we would guess at least a couple of weeks. It seems that the book carvings are more of a hobby for him, but he’s started selling some of them to interested customers. Alejandro’s story is yet another that proves how a passion for something can eventually turn into a viable career or at least a side gig.
Here’s how Alejandro got started turning the old books into art:
“Just at that time, my grandfather and my grandparents were moving, so they had a bunch of old yellow pages and old tourism guides from past years,” Alejandro says. “So, I just started doing my carvings like Egyptian tombs and weird topographies with little persons and stuff.”
At first, he stuck with landscapes, crypts, and tombs. These still required quite a bit of detail but weren’t nearly as tricky as sculpting people. However, he wanted to challenge himself and try turning the old books into faces next.
“What if I do like a face and a face shape? And I just drew a face on the front page of a book and then I started carving.”
To some people, it might seem silly to keep obsolete books lying around. Typically, when people finish reading books, they sit in a dusty old corner, completely forgotten. Or, they’re given away to charity, which at least makes them useful for someone out there.
Unfortunately, though, many of them get thrown in the trash once people finish reading them. However, Alejandro had a different idea.
“Why throw this away in the trash? It’s going to get wet and all that,” he said. “Let’s give it like a new value, you know? So, that’s what inspires me.”
As they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Plenty of artists around the world create works of art from recycled or used materials. Whether it’s plastic on the beach, recycled tires, or old books, people constantly find new uses for discarded items. After all, it’s better to repurpose trash than to have it just sitting in a landfill somewhere.
If you’re not a sculptor, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of other ways to reuse old books.
Here are just a few ideas we found:
1. Create a book wreath.
Most people think of wreaths as a classic Christmas decoration, but you can use these any time of year! They make an excellent addition to any room in your home. To make one, roll up pages from old books and glue them onto a piece of cardboard. The finished product will resemble a giant flower made from the recycled books. For more information on how to create one, follow this tutorial.
2. Make a secret stash box.
Are you worried about thieves breaking into your home and stealing essential items? Then you’ll love this DIY safety box. To make it, take a wooden box, cut the spines off old books, and secure them to the front of the box. Here’s a detailed description of how to pull off this project.
3. Turn a book cover into a picture frame.
If you don’t want to spend money on picture frames, you can make them yourself! Cut the cover off an old book with a utility knife. Next, put a photo inside a plastic protector and tape it inside the cover.
4. Create a bookshelf.
We know bookshelves should hold books, but why not make a shelf from them while you’re at it? Make sure to use books of the same width, so the shelf is even. Here’s a tutorial on how to make one.
Final thoughts on the artist who creates works of art from old books
Alejandro Gil doesn’t believe in throwing away books, so he creates mesmerizing art pieces from them instead. Using only simple tools, he transforms discarded books into beautiful carvings that seem astonishingly real. He’s created massive basilicas, towering mountain landscapes, and a huge guitar, to name a few of his pieces.
He’s certainly talented, but of course, not everyone shares his love of carving old books. If you’d like to repurpose old books but need some ideas, perhaps the ones listed above will pique your interest.
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