Olga Skorokhod hawaii hand cut maps

Hand-Cut Art Portrays Mountain Peaks, Ocean Floors

With simple household materials and the guidance of topographic and bathymetric maps, one artist’s sculptures come to life.

Olga Skorokhold hand cut topographical maps bathymetric
Australia, by Olga Skorokhod

A razor blade, film, and paper are the tools Olga Skorokhod uses to create her works of art. By layering different colored paper at different heights she creates a stunning textured look similar to topographical maps.

Three years ago, Skorokhod desired to implement the textures and shapes she found beautiful in the outdoors. She took a razor blade to white printer paper and was amazed by the light and shadow from the materials. Today, the results of that experiment are beautiful maps, the likes of which include California, Australia, and inland streams and lakes.

To accomplish this, she studies bathymetric (like topography for the sea) and topographical maps.

Olga Skorokhold hand cut maps
Lake Tahoe, by Olga Skorokhold

Map-Making Process

First, she looks at the corresponding ocean floor and topographical map of the area she wants to carve out. The hidden aquatic features are often not found in standard maps, but are brought to life with bathymetric maps.

Olga Skorokhod hawaii hand cut maps
Hawaii, by Olga Skorokhod

While she originally used printer paper, now she uses 150-lb. airbrush white paper with foam board between the layers. She uses a surgical knife blade to cut the paper. Depending on the angle of her cuts, the transitions between light and shadow appear differently.

All of these techniques enhance the illusion of reality, despite using paper and other simple materials.

Olga Skorokhold hand cut topographical maps bathymetric 2
California, by Olga Skorokhold

Not A Real Map

Due to the nature of carving by hand, mistakes in the elevation of mountains and lakes can occur. Not surprisingly, she advises travelers use real maps instead of her artwork for navigation, as they may get lost. Instead, she sees her work as resembling place, and something to hold good memories from wherever the journey leads.

Find and purchase the rest of Skorokhod’s collection here.

Olga Skorokhold hand cut topographical maps bathymetric 3
Iceland, by Olga Skorokhod
Nate Mitka

Midwest born, Nate Mitka is based in the GearJunkie Denver office. He is an advocate of all outdoor activities and has developed some habits, like running without headphones, eating raw vegetables, and fixing the chain on his ratty old bike.