Paper sculptures with a surprise

Paper is the first material many designers work on. It’s also the material of choice for one Chinese designer. Li Hongbo crafts sculptures using paper. The first surprise is how much they look like stone or plaster. The second surprise is raising eye-brows around the world.

As can be seen in the pictures, paper is used exclusively. These sculptures are similar to the paper garlands used for party decoration. However, the works shown here are far more intricately made, as well as highly thought-provoking.

Heads, figures and models are crafted to look like solid objects. When they are pulled apart, their true nature is revealed. As the sculptures fold and bend into new shapes, they show just how much potential this supposedly simple material can have.

The artist uses a wooden mould to fix multiple sheets of paper into place. A wire mesh is placed on top of each sheet leaves thin strips of the paper exposed. These are then covered in glue, and the next sheet is placed on top. Very slowly, a block of glued paper stacks up.

By carefully carving, sawing and slicing paper away, any shape can be created. Clearly, this is a painstaking process. The finished sculpture really does look like a piece of stone. Interestingly, this is because of the tools used. Li Hongbo uses chisels and sandpaper to finish the pieces, which gives them the stone-like look.

So there is much more to these sculptures than meets the eye. The inventor continually investigates the way the material acts. With his designs, he is now getting a much larger audience to think about what paper is as well as about the way it behaves. And that’s a great way to share material innovation.