Brilliant Paper Sculptures of Nature’s Most Beautiful Birds and Butterflies

At first glance, these colorful creatures look like real, living birds and butterflies, but a closer look reveals that they’re actually crafted from paper. Colombia-born, Bristol-based artist Diana Beltrán Herrera has been sculpting wildlife from paper since 2012, and today she’s a master of her craft. She creates lifelike birds, butterflies, flowers, and more, complete with extraordinary detail and tangible texture.

Many of Herrera’s three-dimensional sculptures celebrate the feathered friends and insects she’s met in real life, but others are replicas of species she’s fascinated by but never seen up close. “Paper as a medium for documentation allows me to register and create notions and ideas of subjects that I have not experienced in real life but that I can experience when a sculpture is completed,”says Herrera. “I like this approach because it is not harmful, and through my work, I can show and tell my viewers about the things I have been learning, of the importance of nature just by researching and making it myself.”

Research is a key part of Herrera’s process. Before she even picks up a pair of scissors, she spends hours collecting images and information on her subject. It takes around a week to plan the design for a single bird, all of which are made to actual scale. Once she’s planned out her measurements, Herrera spends a great deal of time carefully choosing paper to match the exact colors of her subject. For the artist, it’s important that her sculptures are not only beautiful, but educational too.

The talented paper artist spends days sculpting each piece, starting with creating the inner structure from strips of paper. For the birds, she then adds the colorful plumage in layers, one feather at a time. The finished sculptures look so real, they look as though they could take flight at any moment.

Herrera frames many of her paper birds inside giant postage stamps in order to playfully document where they come from. She says, “I am traveling the world, falling in love with each landscape and capturing birds in its real ecosystem.” For one stamp, she pays homage to the jacana bird from her native Colombia. In another, she creates a stamp featuring the Oriental hornbill of Singapore. These stamps will be part of Herrera’s first solo exhibition at the Singapore Philatelic museum later this year.

Check out Herrera’s paper wildlife sculptures below and find more of her amazing work on Instagram.

Bristol-based artist Diana Beltrán Herrera crafts nature-inspired paper sculptures that look incredibly lifelike.

Paper Butterfly Sculptures by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Lime butterfly

Her birds, butterflies, flowers, and more, feature extraordinary detail and tangible texture.

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Crimson sunbird perched on a red ginger Lilly

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Goldenback woodpecker

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Cattle egret

Each piece requires hours of planning and research in order to capture the true likeness of the subject.

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Schalow’s turaco

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Mandarin duck

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Egret

Herrera spends days carefully crafting each piece from layers of paper.

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Oriental pied hornbill

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Oriental pied hornbill

Some of her sculptures are mounted on giant postage stamps, in order to playfully document where they come from.

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Oriental pied hornbill

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Jacana

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Indochinese roller

For the artist, it’s important that her sculptures are not only beautiful, but educational too.

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Spotted wood owl

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Spotted wood owl

Paper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Spotted wood owl

Paper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Butterfly Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Butterfly Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Great tit

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Indochinese roller

Paper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Goldenback woodpecker

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Salmon crested cockatoo

Paper Birds by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Salmon crested cockatoo

Paper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán Herrera

Eastern bluebird

Paper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraPaper Wildlife Sculptures by Diana Beltrán HerreraDiana Beltrán Herrera: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Diana Beltrán Herrera.

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