Book Carving – Art or Sacrilege?

Book CarvingThese book carvings by Brian Dettmer are incredible.  Using a scalpel, he slices and carves books, adding nothing, only taking away.  The results are like the image you see here; beautiful, impossible works of art.  I keep trying to imagine how you would do this.  How you would plan this ahead of time.  Looking through the books, planning these sculptures in your mind’s eye.  I certainly couldn’t do it.


I think part of the reason I couldn’t do it, other than the fact that I’m nowhere near this talented or precise, is that these are books.   It would feel… wrong, somehow, to slice books up, even as works of art.  I wouldn’t hesitate to have one of Dettmer’s works on display, but if I tried to do it myself I would feel like a murderer.

According to a February 2011 post by Karanora ( , Dettmer uses tweezers, knives, and surgical tools to create these pieces.  He may reshape or roll the books, or use multiple books, but the books are the only source of carving material.  So what do you  think… fabulous art, or wanton book destruction?

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