If the Kindle killed your books, then Aditi Babel’s Udaipur home should be the funeral parlour you pick. Like Six Feet Under’s Fisher folk, she’ll pretty up your tomes for the after-life, turning them into intricate sculptures, book accordions and dramatic cobwebs. We’re very sorry for your loss…er, gain.
This is definitely no ordinary origami. “I call them ‘altered books’,” says Aditi, “because the work involves adding an innovative new form to an already existing one.” Send her your book and she’ll first examine the paper— how old it is, what kind of folds will work, whether it will require any cuts. She’ll then try to make a sculpture that’s like nothing she’s done before, typically spending a week or two on it.
The IIT Crowd
The fine arts-trained Aditi did her Masters in Visual Communication at IDC, IIT Mumbai. While she was there, Ken Botnick, a renowned American book artist did a short teaching module that Aditi missed because of a fractured leg. She may have had a broken appendage, but she was well aware that some of the books in class had just had their appendix taken out too. Determined to learn how Ken operated on novels, she got her classmates to send her regular lecture updates. With a healed leg and a year-and-a-half of research, Aditi then flew to Florence where she signed up for a six-month intensive course in book making and art at SRISA.
Soon after, Aditi started Babel Books, a label that crafts both, book sculptures and artist books which make for lovely gifts. She also teaches book art at IIT Bombay, and plans to conduct book-making workshops in Delhi this August.
In a Bind
If you’re looking for belly-up books on your shelf, you should know that Aditi prefers working with old books, although new ones are welcome as well. “There’s something about yellowing paper.” She also reads the book she’s sculpting, so that there’s a fit between design and soul. The artist books are created from scratch, using acid-free paper and bright, bold colours.
You’re thinking of getting a Kindle aren’t you?
Books She’d Love To Sculpt
Read on to know the kind of sculptures Aditi would create with some of her favourite books.
Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami: This is what I’m reading right now. It has two separate tales that come together at the end. I’d make two structures that look like they’re parallel to each other, but they’re actually coming together as one. There’d be many cuts and folds within each to signify the twists and turns in the novel. Then I’d let the structures hang on a cobweb with intricate striations, for dramatic effect.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino: It’s about Marco Polo’s conversation with an aging emperor about a city he visited. The beautiful and painfully detailed description is so well-worded and stretches your imagination. I’d play around with the folds, probably make folds within folds. Apart from paper, I’d use materials like iron, thread and glass, to give it an interesting dimension.
Any Calvin and Hobbes Comic Book: I love that Calvin wanders into his own colourful planet of aliens and dinosaurs when he’s bored. I’d use this book to make a globe with all of the obscure characters, including the two heroes, pop out from the mountain folds on the surface of the globe.
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