My Thousand Words

The logo of My Thousand Words book sculptures

One family of artists in northern Nevada sees beauty in old books beyond the rich stories between the covers. As the creative business of Debbie Lambin and her children, Rachel and John-Henry, My Thousand Words book sculptures repurposes books to create lively paper sculptures that dramatize some of our most beloved tales and stories.

Through their book sculptures, the Lambins aim to bring books and their stories to life from the pages within.

Through their book sculptures, the Lambins aim to bring books and their stories to life from the pages within. To do this, they carefully fold, cut, and arrange pages to create detailed figures and objects, like a treehouse, a knight slaying a dragon, or a miner working the Comstock. Depending on the design and how the story is being told, a book sculpture takes anywhere from days to months to create. It’s a meticulous process requiring focus and attention to detail, but the result is stunning!

A paper sculpture of a miner digging into the depths of a book
A My Thousand Words creative rendition of a miner on the Comstock.

The Lambins’ paper creations have excited the art community in and around Reno. My Thousand Words was commissioned by Artown — an organization that aims to elevate the arts in the area — to make a sculpture to be photographed for the much anticipated 2019 Artown poster.

To produce the sculpture, pages of the book were gently and carefully removed and beautifully rolled, twisted and wrapped to create a work of art that depicts the amalgamation of different facets of art, connecting the community of northern Nevada,” say the Lambins about the Artown work.

From left: John-Henry, Debbie, and Rachel Lambin with 2019 Artown poster
The Lambins with the 2019 Artown poster (From left: John-Henry, Debbie, and Rachel).

The poster was inspired by Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s 1945 novel, The City of Trembling Leaves, a literary account of life in Reno in the early 20th century. The Lambins say the piece “represents what Artown works to achieve every year: bringing the community together and presenting incredible creativity from the hands of many, for all to enjoy!

The book sculptures of My Thousand Words show us the creative potential of reusing everyday objects around us to make art. As avid recyclers, the Lambins think it’s important to save books from the trash can, so they sculpt their creations from donated books or secondhand volumes from resale shops. To the Lambins, a tattered old book is an art medium in its own right.

The Artown poster sculpture will be on display at Nevada State Bank throughout the month of July at 1 West Liberty St., Reno, NV 89501.

My Thousand Words has been featured on KNPB’s Art Effects, segments 228 and 433. For more information please visit the My Thousand Words and Lambin Arts websites.

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