Kelly Campbell Berry slowly sliced through the picture, ensuring the accentuation of the hobbit's feet and carefully tore away the excess paper around his face before precisely placing the image in its correct spot, completing yet another successful "book autopsy."
Kelly, a Bethel Acres resident and mother of five, often spends her days bringing the images in books to life and creating what she calls eclectic book sculptures.
"I've taken out everything but the illustrations so all that's left to tell the story are the illustrations," Kelly said.
The book sculptor said after growing up with an artistic mother in Arizona, marrying her art teacher husband Bob Berry and attempting several different art forms, she discovered her talent for book sculpting in 2006.
"We had collected antique pop up books because I loved the art in them and when our house burned down in 2006...I had two books that had survived the fire so I started working on them, but I wanted to cut out the illustrations," Kelly said.
The artist explained she would go back to the book day-after-day, cut out more pictures and leave them in the book.
"After a while I realized 'oh' because it was kind of hallowed in the middle and you could see the illustrations and one thing lead to another and I made my first sculpture and I've been doing it ever since," Kelly said.
The book sculptor explained she worked various jobs such as being an EMT, a paramedic and a cafeteria worker at Shawnee Public Schools to make ends meet.
However, Kelly said, in 2011 she decided to make her passion her full time job and thus began Book Art by Kelly.
"It started taking away from my working and kept getting in the way and I was working during the day and nights and the weekends to try and catch up on orders," Kelly said. "I finally had to say 'I'm quitting my day job.'''
Kelly said working on her art full time gave her the opportunity to do not only what she loved, but also the flexibility to be with and take care of her family.
"(I felt) excited. It was wonderful. My kids were growing up and it came at the right time because our son got critically ill for a long period of time and even while he was in the hospital I was able to sculpt books," Kelly said.
The book sculptor explained her son recovered and she was thankful to be able to take care of him and do what she loves.
For Kelly the best aspect of creating her sculptures is the diversity each book brings to her crafting process.
"Every book is different. I have not made the same exact thing twice. Even though I've done dozens of Alice in Wonderlands, none of them are the same they're all different," Kelly said.
The mother of five explained since she started sculpting full-time in 2011 the demand for her work has remained steady and increased depending on the time of year.
"I get a lot of orders and it keeps me busy especially during Christmas," Kelly said.
Kelly said she uses books that are new, but she mostly sculpts books that are older and on the way to the trash.
"They're not valuable or they were from a library or something like that or (they're) well read...It's like their second chance," Kelly said. "People can walk by their favorite book like Stuart Little...and they can see the whole story in a flash because all the illustrations are there."
The artist said for the most part she doesn't have a planning process and she lets the book guide her through the creative journey.
"It's finding the center and then going from there...it all depends on the book. My process has to change. The steps have to change depending on the age of the book," Kelly said.
Over the last several years the book sculptor said she's created an estimated 300 or more sculptures for people from all over the country and the world.
Kelly said it can take her anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and Bob helps her frame all her pieces as well as binds the older books she sculpts.
While she's doing what she loves, Kelly said it can be challenging having to pay close attention to detail and she struggles with being a perfectionist. She also said it's harder to work with newer books because the paper is harder to cut and tear.
The book sculptor said she's currently working on creating an exhibit of human body parts made from old medical books.
"I just took them down to Untitled, the art gallery in Oklahoma City...I've got the heart, the lungs, the torso and the womb with a baby inside and I get a lot of response for those," Kelly said.
As time goes on, Kelly said she wants to continue her book sculpting for as long as she can and hopes to one day soon teach others the craft.
"I like the book sculptures...I want to teach some classes. There's enough market out there that keeps me busy and I'd like to teach what I do to some other people," Kelly said.
For more information and to see Kelly's creations visit kellycampbellberry.com.