AUSTINTOWN - After a few quick cuts into the pages of his paperback book, Shay Braun realized he might have to revise his design plan.
Shay's goal was to create a three-dimensional pumpkin.
"I think it could work, but there might be a better way to do it," he said. "I think I have a better idea."
Shay Braun, 12, of Austintown, works out his idea for a book carving design. Braun intends to display the finished project at his mom’s shop, Educational Consignment Plus More, in Austintown.
Earlier this week, Shay, 12, of Austintown, made his first attempt at practicing the art of book carving. The eighth-grader, who is homeschooled, said he would like to work his way up to a project using a book about King Arthur and Camelot.
"I have the idea for that, but I wanted to see if I could do this first," he said. "I want to practice some before I attempt that."
Shay explained that he first learned about book carving from his mom, Kelly Braun, who owns Educational Consignment Plus More. The store, at 4950 Mahoning Ave., Austintown, is sponsoring a book carving contest this month.
"I've heard about book carving but I wasn't really sure what all was involved," Braun said. "It's amazing. I didn't realize how long it's existed or how detailed it can be. It really is amazing."
Braun's book carving contest runs through Oct. 31. Entries are being accepted at the store until 6 p.m. that day. Judging will take place Oct. 31 through Nov. 10, and winners will be announced Nov. 12. The grand prize is a $50 shopping spree in the store. Additional prizes will be awarded for various categories.
One book only may be used in the carving. Carvers are required to submit a folder containing contact information, a pre-sketch idea of the design plan; a paragraph explaining why the particular book and / or design was chosen; a list of costs and supplies, which cannot be more than $10; and a paragraph explaining any revisions made to the original design.
The entry fee is $2. Families or individuals may enter.
Gayle Wanamaker of Austintown said she didn't realize how difficult it would be to develop her concept. Wanamaker has created artwork by folding pages of a book, but this is her first attempt at carving them.
"I am such a beginner," she said. "This is nothing like I thought it would be. I have already gone through three books. But I'm working on it. I might have to change my concept. I really like spiders so I have been trying to carve one. The problem is that spiders have eight legs. I'm OK for the first three or four legs, but then it goes downhill and falls apart."
Wanamaker said she intends to finish her project in time to participate in Braun's carving contest.
Braun said her research into book carving led her to artist Brian Dettmer and his work creating detailed and innovative sculptures with books and other media. Because her consignment shop specializes in educational materials, Braun said she tries to sponsor extracurricular activities based around books, fine arts and education.
"Something like this, I think, is very inspiring," Braun said. "That's what this is about, being inspired, being creative and trying something that, although it's been around for a very long time, for many of us is a fairly new concept."
Braun said she realizes some people view book carving as controversial.
"They don't want to see books being cut up and I get that," she said. "But many of the books used are old. Some are collecting dust in basements or in attics. But this way they can be used for a very intriguing, interesting form of art."
Braun said that many artists base the themes of their carvings on the books they use. She said that so far she has a handful of entries, but she'd like to see more response from the community. Some of the design ideas are simple, while some are detailed and intricate, she noted.
"It's amazing once you start thinking about it all of the ideas you can come up with," she said.
Although Shay cannot enter the contest because his mom owns the store, he said he wants to try his hand at creating his own sculpture to display.
"It's fun to see what you can come up with, what kind of ideas you have and then to see if you can actually finish them," Shay said. "It's a challenge."