Enchanting Illustrations Carved From Old Books
Open the covers to a world of holloways, moonlit leaves, and forest creatures.
by Anika Burgess
April 06, 2018
What happens to old hardcover books that no one wants any more? There’s donation and recycling, but it seems that as often as not they end up forgotten, in boxes and piles in garages, attics, or basements, where they can grow musty and moldy. But sometimes they can be repurposed, and if they find themselves in the hands of illustrator Isobelle Ouzman, they can be art. Her ongoing project, Altered Books, takes donated or discarded hardcovers and converts them into hidden, three-dimensional landscapes.
“My altered accidentally,” Ouzman says, in an email interview. “I came across a cardboard box full of hardback novels one day, sat outside in the rain. As a lover of books, I brought them home to dry out, and repaired some of the bindings, determined to use them in some way.” Instead of reading them—she wasn’t a fan of the genre—she began to draw on the first page of one of them. “I don’t quite remember what brought me to start carving into the pages, but a few months later I had my first finished altered book. That was back in 2012. Ever since then I have been developing them into what they are now, trying to find the best way to build them.”