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The sculptor who does it by the book

CS Lewis once said: "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me". For this week's everyday artist a book is not just something to curl up with, cuppa in hand, but also the inspiration and raw material for her own artistic creations.

School support assistant and self-confessed bookworm Cindy Huntley loves nothing more than breathing new life into old books by turning them into intricate sculptures.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Cindy, from Crieff, in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, trained as a graphic designer and illustrator, but has always had a passion for painting and sculpting that began from a very young age.

I like to think people may both enjoy the art, and perhaps become interested in reading the books they were based on

But she's had to fit her personal creative endeavours around raising three daughters while working at a local college teaching graphic design, helping out in the school nursery, and more recently as a pupil support assistant at a nearby High School in rural Perthshire.

The 47-year-old is a self-taught book and paper sculptor. Her story began when her eldest daughter became deeply moved by The Diary of Anne Frank so Cindy decided to scuplt a piece based on it.

She started making the sculptures about four years ago, "once I started I was hooked," she says.

"I get lots of creative energy from my girls, and many of my favourite pieces have been inspired by them," she adds.

This and other book sculptures have found a home on display in bookstores and libraries around Scotland, which she says she has found "particularly gratifying, as I like to think people may both enjoy the art, and perhaps become interested in reading the books they were based on.

The Diary of Anne Frank
Shmuel waits for Bruno (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne)

"The combination of words and sculpture has always appealed to me, and I often incorporate the poetry or text as part of the piece."

Bo the highland cow
I will always be an artist, and will always, somehow, make time to create

"I don’t plan a sculpture, it just seems to happen,"she says, "I like to read the book as I’m making them and I just get a vision from that. I start to sketch it in my head."

So far she's made around 10-12 sculptures. Some have frustrated her but she's never given up on any of her designs, she's walked away from them but has always finished them.

Each sculpture can take a month to make and she fits it in around her life, "I can be cooking dinner and also be cutting paper," she says.

One of her most popular pieces locally has been a paper scultpure of a Highland Cow called Bo, made of thousands of tiny individually cut and glued pieces of recycled paper. It was a very time-consuming process, but she says there is great satisfaction in producing something that gives pleasure and delight to her and to others.

Never wanting to throw anything out, she took on a recycling project and made a fox named After Eight because his legs are made out of the mint chocolate wrappers of the same name.

"I will always be an artist, and will always, somehow, make time to create; it is both a relaxation and a thrill to transform ideas into three-dimensional shapes," she says.

Tribute to Harper Lee
The Frog Prince
After Eight the fox

Feeling crafty?