Paulette has carved out 12 caves to date, each of which has been commissioned by local New Mexican residents. He only accepts $12 per hour for his detailed labor, and has no qualms about it. In this CBS Sunday Morning interview he says, “I see this as an environmental project. I’m trying to open up people’s feelings…It’s the process. I’m having the time of my life.”

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Image via YouTube Screenshots/CBS Sunday Morning

RELATED: Incredible eco-friendly mansion is hidden entirely underground

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Image via YouTube Screenshots/CBS Sunday Morning

With only a pickaxe in hand and his dog for company, Paulette meticulously digs through sandstone, etching intricate designs from scratch. Holding no professional degree in sculpting, the artist successfully achieves what he calls “the cave effect,” juxtaposing the underground with expansive columns that simulate trees and light-filled skylights peering up to the sky.

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Image via YouTube Screenshots/CBS Sunday Morning

The cave-digger’s majestic underground dwellings had gone somewhat unnoticed over the years, until a 2014 documentary film called Cavedigger hit the airwaves and even received an Academy Award nomination.

cave digging artist, cavedigger, cavedigger documentary, Ra Paulette, sandstone caves, New Mexico sandstone caves, underground homes, green design, cave homes, sustainable design, eco-friendly design, green homes, sustainable homes, eco-homes
Image via YouTube Screenshots/CBS Sunday Morning

One of Paulette’s 12 caves took 12 years to dig and included full power, wood flooring, and running water. He is currently in the process of completing his “magna opus,” which will be an underground community refuge for the public to enjoy, replete with a running waterfall.

Via CBS Sunday Morning

Images via YouTube Screenshots/CBS Sunday Morning

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