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Watch Sheets of Paper Turn into a Topographical Map of Lake Baikal

Artist Olga Skorokhod carves shapes into paper to create artistic cartography.

Nature offers wondrous textures and formations, from stacked frozen methane bubbles, rough contours of lava stones, to the deep caverns of lakes. Ukrainian paper artist Olga Skorokhod transforms physical landscapes into airy, abstract topographical artwork comprised of carved layers of paper.

In the short video posted on her Instagram account, the Oregon-based artist shows the final steps of piecing together intricately cut shapes of white paper into an unconventional three-dimensional map of Lake Baikal in Russia. Skorokhod’s body of work includes layered-paper pieces of the vast forests of Oregon, Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake, and Lake Powell. 

You can even drink out of an underwater portal from one of Skorokhod’s paper-carved mugs. 

She began creating works out of sculpted paper three years ago, spending 12 to 15 hours a day carving out sheets. A large piece can take anywhere from two to three weeks, and requires tons of sheets of 150-pound white paper—the material chosen for its lustrous, smooth finish. Skorokhod’s main tool for cutting is a fine surgical blade, allowing her to make precise slices and small shapes.   

Sometimes she adds a splash of color, but prefers white paper for its softness and purity. In the piece depicting Lake Baikal, the clean shade of ivory against the bright blue film resembling the water makes a striking contrast. Skorokhod adds double-sided sticky foam between layers to create a greater illusion of depth.

“The distinguishing feature is the paper edge that’s hand-cut at an angle with surgical blade, as this creates smoother transitions from light to shadow,” Skorokhod writes

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