11/08/2014 9:03 PM AEST | Updated 11/08/2014 9:59 PM AEST

This Artist's Incredibly Intricate Laser-Cut Paper Sculptures Are A Feast For The Eyes

Paper is "neutral" and "unassuming," artist Eric Standley says.

But in his hands, the material is transformed into works of art that are anything but.

An associate professor of studio art at Virginia Tech, Standley spends hours creating gorgeous 3D sculptures and mandalas that are composed of layer after intricate layer of laser-cut paper. The finished works of art are reminiscent of the colorful stained-glass windows of cathedrals or mosques -- a resemblance that is not accidental.

Standley says his paper sculptures have been inspired by Gothic and Islamic architecture.

"In 2006, I started informally studying the geometry of Gothic and Islamic architectural ornamentation," he wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "It was the seemingly infinite detail that I was interested in. This was evidence of faith extending human capabilities to extraordinary originality. I like evidence of impossibilities surpassed."

In a video about the creation of his 3D sculptures, Standley says that there's a sort of other-worldly, more-than-human quality to the architecture he's inspired by. "That reverence, I thought, 'Wow, I wonder if I can just not only borrow the geometry but borrow that reverence. Can I actually bring the scale and the massiveness of a cathedral and put it here [in my art]?'" he muses.

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Photo gallery Eric Standley See Gallery

The creation of these 3D sculptures is an exercise in patience, painstaking planning and a feverish attention to detail. Standley told HuffPost that his sculptures can sometimes take almost a year to finish.

"The drawing process takes months to complete," he said. "I just completed a project that took ten months to draw. The cutting process on the laser is less glamorous, taking upwards of 80 hours of cut time. The final assembly takes a week or so to contain and complete the work."