You know the book you’re reading is excellent when it escapes your imagination and enters the reality. Fan fiction, cosplay, recreations – these are just a few ways fans show their (sometimes creepy) appreciation for fictional worlds made up by an author.

But Zack Mclaughlin is more than just a fan – he’s an illustrator of children’s books that keep kids’ nightmares at bay. With stories including The Finding of Blue Bunny, Zack was inspired to take some time off to create a line of nature-inspired sculptures. You would be forgiven if you thought the animals from Paper & Wood were actual taxidermy projects.

YouTube video

Before painstakingly carving each piece, Mclaughlin begins with in-depth research on the bird he is planning to replicate. During this stage, he grabs as many angles of the bird in question, finds their distinct shape and color pattern, and creates a blueprint to work off of.

As opposed to an actual taxidermy project, these sculptures start off as a wire, wood, or clay fixtures before being layered in paper-made hair and feathers. The outer covering is then painted to create the illusion that these birds will come alive and peck at you incessantly. The steps sound easy, but it takes about 30-120 hours to develop a single bird from scratch. As of now, he’s made owls, sparrows, birds of paradise, hummingbirds, robins—the list just keeps getting bigger.

Apart from flying animals, Mclaughlin has also branched out into smaller wire sculptures of wolves, horses, and rabbits. Considering he doesn’t have to make a wood carving or cover them in feathers, these may be easier to make than their flying brethren.

We may never see his children’s book get finished, but judging by how enthusiastic he is about his future projects, Zac Mclaughlin seems to have found his calling. You can find more of his works at the Paper & Wood webpage and on his Instagram page.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.