Tome Raider

Paper craft artist Banoo Batliboi gives old,abandoned books a new lease of life by turning them into book sculptures.

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published: January 23, 2012 3:29:55 am

When a friend of noted lensman,Samar Singh Jodha,approached Banoo Batliboi to fashion a unique gift using Jodha’s photo catalogue Phaneng,the Mumbai-based paper craft artist took it on as yet another challenge. “The catalogue contains portraits of reclusive Buddhist tribals and I wanted to highlight their faces through my craft. So I creased its pages to suggest the form of the dharmachakra,which represents the Eightfold Path in Buddhism. As you walk around the sculpture,the partly concealed faces of these rarely seen people peek out at the viewer. But if you walk around the sculpture in the opposite direction,they disappear in a cloud of grey,” she explains.

Batliboi has been creating book sculptures for over two years now. She mainly works with old,abandoned books — the kind with yellowing pages that have lived a long life — as it’s her own way of rescuing them from oblivion. “I fold the pages of the books with precision without any cutting and pasting to give them a new form,that of book sculptures. Some of the books that I work with are as old as 50 years. But I prefer books that aren’t too thick or too thin; a thickness of around 500 pages is good to work with,” she notes,adding that these sculptures,priced at Rs 2,500 onwards,can be easily cleaned by dusting them lightly with a feather duster.

Her own affair with this art form began when she came across a book sculpture from Milan at a friend’s place. “It triggered my curiosity. I then did extensive online research before I nose-dived into this creative form,” recalls the 53-year-old,who initially made these book sculptures just for close friends. Once the compliments began to pour in,she decided to make a profession out of it.

Now she works on around 15 books in a month. “There’s never really a dearth of old,disposable books. I get many at the book stalls in Mumbai’s Flora Fountain area or even from the scrap dealers. If I find a good read,I leave the book intact. Apart from this,some of my clients — just like Jodha’s friend — want a customised book sculpture. They bring me a particular book that they want me to work with,” she says.

For those who can’t wait to pick up similar book sculptures,Batliboi is currently selling them at her Kemps Corner residence. “I don’t mind reaching out to more people through stores but the place has to do justice to my creations. As of now,my clients know me,thanks to my participation in exhibitions and my website,” says Batliboi.

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