We've been impressed by paper sculptures before, but Colombian artist Diana Beltran Herrera takes things to a whole new level. Over the past two years, Herrera has transformed her long-time interest in paper sculpture into a way to express her love for the natural world. Her collection of animal recreations now includes species from every corner of the globe – but with their incredibly intricate feathers and picture-perfect ornithological accuracy we couldn't help but focus on her avian creations.

paper bird crane 2014 08 01

We wanted to find out more about the process involved in perfecting these delicate designs, so we chatted with Herrera to get the scoop. 

How in the world did you get into making paper birds? 

I was working with paper for a long while, developing patterns and creating volumes and shapes with paper. When I went to Finland in 2011 to cooperate with an artist, I saw the European magpie for the first time. I started to follow this bird everywhere and then I found other birds that I had never seen before. These images got stuck in my head, particularly a swan that was fighting with some ducks – it was a male and very territorial.  This was probably the first time that I was in front of a dramatic scene just as the ones you might see in documentaries. This was what motivated me to start creating the birds. 

What is the process like?

The tools of the trade.

It always starts with a photograph. I am always finding a special position to make the bird look alive and majestic. Birds express a lot with their bodies. After I get the photographs that will inspire the work, I draw the bird on the computer. I draw all the pieces I need and then I follow this drawing to recreate the bird in a sculpture. The first thing I do is create a structure that is made out of paper. The bird is empty inside, the structure is like a bone and then I start to cover it from the tail to the beak. The paper is painted in the colours of the bird, so sometimes it's a long process to get it really accurate.

How many species have you done?

I have lost count – but more than 150. Not all of them have been successful, but all necessary for the process. 

How do you choose which species you want to create? 

I choose them by colour, by shape ... there are some birds that are more exotic than others and that are very attractive. 

What's next?

Columbian artist Diana Beltran Herrera.

I got lots of new opportunities after magazines, blogs and newspapers shared my work. It's very nice to see that people want to support my work. I am now working for special clients, some of them are private, some of them are agencies. It's also great when my work can have an educational impact on people and can be used for good causes. At the moment I am also doing my masters in fine art.

What inspires you to make these birds? What keeps you interested?

It inspires me that people want them. When people purchase my work we are both conscious that we are respecting, protecting and promoting a 'safe' way to admire an animal. I love knowing that art can help create knowledge and to educate. 

What does nature mean to you?

Nature means everything to me. It's a real and genuine part of my life. I always wonder about all of these different life forms that have converged on our planet.

paper bird chicken 2014 08 01
paper birds flamingo 2014 08 01
paper bird quetzal 2014 08 01
paper bird ibis 2014 08 01
paper bird turaco 2014 08 01

Images: Thomas Poulsom

Check out more of Herrera work here.