Jodi Harvey-Brown is a lover of books. She loves them so much, in fact, that she’s been bringing the stories to life by creating characters that literally rise up from the pages of her favorite books. Jodi constructs amazing, beautiful paper sculptures using book pages, often posing the sculptures atop an open book.
Recently Jodi took time out of her extremely busy schedule to sit down for our DorkUp questions. Check out the interview below, and feast your eyes on the incredible, stunning work she has created:
Where are you from? Growing up, what did you geek out on? What books, comics, tv shows, movies, characters were you into?
I’m from Delta, PA. It’s a tiny little town on the Mason-Dixon line. I don’t remember watching too much when I was younger. I had an older brother, so he controlled the TV. The one thing we agreed on was The Simpsons. It was mandatory. I also had the bad habit of stealing his comics. I never put them back correctly though, so I always got caught.
What are you geeking out on now?
Now I have a six year old son, so I’m pretty much into whatever he’s into. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’d never seen any of the Star Wars movies until recently. We watched them to gear up for The Force Awakens. I actually got really into them and had to call a few friends to say I finally understood their obsessions.
How long have you been creating your book art? What made you decide to start creating these pieces?
I’ve been making book sculptures for about four years now. I started totally by accident. I’d bought a box of old books at a yard sale (I can never pass up old books) and one had been crushed in the bottom by the others. I started folding the pages, without really thinking about it, and was really happy with the result. It’s all grown from there.
How did you learn your craft? Is this something you taught yourself?
I’ve just been going with it. If I have an idea, or someone comes to me with a commission idea, I chip away at it until I can figure it out. The first time I made “faces” for a sculpture was for a Harry Potter commissioned piece. The client wanted Harry, Hermione, and Ron. It took a while, but I finally got the technique down and I’ve built off of that for other pieces.
You’ve created scenes from such classic stories as Harry Potter, The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, and so many more! How do you decide what to create? Where do you draw your inspiration?
When I started creating sculptures I made my favorites – Pride and Prejudice, Poe, Grimm’s Fairy Tales. If I had an idea for a particular scene, I got to make it. Now most of my work is commission based. Clients tell me what book they’d like to use and their favorite scene, then we work together to come up with a visually appealing design and I get to work.
Where do you find the books you use to create these pieces? Are they chosen at random for each piece? Or are they connected to the art you’re creating with the pages?
Every sculpture I make is from the story it depicts. If I make a Cinderella sculpture it just wouldn’t be right to make it from a Stephen King book. I buy books whenever I can, usually at second hand shops, and keep them until I need them. It’s resulted in a studio FILLED with books waiting to be sculpted.
How long does the average piece take?
It really depends on the subject matter. More intricate designs take longer than larger, simpler pieces. I have some designs, like the flower vases, that just take a few hours. Other pieces, like Rose the Dragon, have taken well over 100 hours.
I recently saw a “Guardians of the Galaxy” sculpture on your Facebook page, was that created from comic book pages? Do you use other paper in addition to book pages?
That was my first comic book piece! The edition that I used didn’t have too many pages in it. To make the characters and clothing true to the story I had to bring in some flyleaves from other books and cardstock to get all the colors needed.
What’s the hardest or most challenging piece you’ve ever created? What made it so difficult?
Right now I’m working on a Phantom Tollbooth piece. I’ve done the story before, but never this exact scene. I’m using multiple LED lights and there’s five different characters and a lot of detail. Minas Tirith was also a challenge. Architecture isn’t my strong suit and everything had to be so tiny!
What piece was the easiest to create? What made it so easy?
I’m not sure I’d say they’re the easiest, but I really enjoy making birds. I’ve done a few life sized owls before, and the raven from Poe. The feathers are tedious, but they’re simple, so it’s kinda fun in a way.
What has been your most favorite piece that you’ve ever created?
I really liked the owls, they’re my favorite animals, so they’re fun. I’m also working on an updated Red Riding Hood – I’ve made it before but was never quite happy with it. This one is turning out really well, but you’ll have to wait until I’m completely finished for pictures!
Where do you sell your pieces? And do you accept commissions?
I sell online via Etsy. You can also get in touch with me through the contact form on my website. I’m always open to commissions. I also send the pieces out to galleries throughout the year.
You also host sculpting classes, can you tell us about the classes you teach? Is it book paper sculpting?
I usually have a sculpting class every month or two. I try to make it fit into whatever holiday is happening at the moment. We just made folded hearts for Valentine’s Day. Right now we’re just doing simple paper sculptures that can be finished within a few hours. I’d love to build the class to a point where everyone comes and works on their own book sculpture weekly until it’s all done. I also work with libraries in the area doing classes with kids in their literacy programs. Those are fun. It’s amazing to see a child who doesn’t like to read “see” the story in a sculpture and want to pick up a book.
What are you working on now? Can you give us hints to what your next piece will be?
Like I said, I’m working on The Phantom Tollbooth and Little Red Riding Hood. Tollbooth is a commissioned piece, but Red Riding Hood is a for a series of Fairy Tale sculptures. I’ve already decided on Red Riding Hood and The Wild Swans, I’m still trying to come up with some different Fairy Tale designs.
Do you have any upcoming exhibits? Or art shows?
I do! The Fairy Tale series will be going to Scranton, PA for a themed exhibit. I also have shows in Florida and Maryland booked. I also try to do any local art shows or craft fairs that come up.
You’ve been very generous with your time! Thank you for this interview, and we look forward to seeing your next creations!
Be sure to check out the various Jodi Harvey-Brown websites: