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This woman makes incredible art from discarded books.

Books can tell stories in many different ways.

Malena Valcarcel loves books and has been an avid reader all her life. But that's not the only reason books inspire her.

As a paper artist, Valcarcel tells her own stories using books as her canvases.

All images by Malena Valcarcel/Malena Valcarcel Art, used with permission.


Seriously, how cool is that?

Valcarcel says she creates these sculptures from books that have been thrown away for one reason or another. Sometimes she rescues them from refuse bins, secondhand shops that can't move them, and even libraries that incinerate unwanted or damaged books to make room for new ones. In fact, she's developed such a reputation for repurposing books that friends bring her books they no longer want or need.

And the best part is that she gives them new lives as beautiful, incredibly unique works of art.

She often incorporates elements from the books she's repurposing to pay homage to the source from which she draws her creativity. It might be a tree (the source of all books) or a character from a story that once moved her.

"I can be inspired by a book I read, or maybe a specific passage of that book can inspire me to create a Book Sculpture," she wrote in a Facebook message.  

The dreamlike dioramas she creates can make you feel like you're getting a secret glimpse into the world of a fantasy novel.

Here are 12 of Valcarcel's book sculptures that prove there's more than one way to love a book.

1. Like this magical castle in the woods.

2. Or this tree-gnome with a peacock for a hat.

3. Who doesn't want a cozy reading nook like this one?

4. Here's a fitting tribute to "Alice in Wonderland."

5. And another miniature one (watch out for that cat, Alice).

6. She's also not afraid to get fantastically creepy.

7. These three witches conspiring are a bit spooky.

8. And what witch tableau is complete without owls?

9. Books can take you on so many journeys, even in alternative forms.

10. Like sailing past a magical city at dusk.

11. Or stumbling upon a wishing well while getting lost in an enchanted forest.

12. Books have a transformative power. Even when they themselves have been transformed.

Valcarcel's art allows us to look at books in an entirely new light and may even inspire more visually-inclined people to start reading again.

Of course it would be wonderful if more books stayed on people's shelves rather than landing in refuse bins. But for the ones that do, it's comforting to know some may end up in Valcarcel's hands.

Thanks to her creativity, they'll have the chance to tell a new story in a way that's sure to make people stop and appreciate, if just for a moment, the magic of books.

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


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