Don't hit the books; craft with them
January 4, 2009 4:57 PM   Subscribe

So, you have some old books lying around you don’t read and that you're pretty sure no one else will ever read because they have pages missing or they’re hopelessly outdated technical manuals or they never should have been published in the first place. What to do? As always, crafting is an option. You can make a wrist cuff, or a purse. Book covers can be made into clocks, or photo frames, or photo and card stands. They can become CD and DVD cases, or a hiding place for valuables or necessary contraband, Shawshank Redemption-style.

You can make yourself a diary, notecards, envelopes, or gift tags. If you’re feeling more artistic than practical, some people use the pages from a book as a canvas. Artist Su Blackwell brings scenes from her books to life: check out Alice’s Tea Party, or this scene from The Snow Queen. Personally I feel strangely drawn to this piece. Noriko Ambe sculpts with his books; Stefano Arienti created this installation, and Brian Dettmer took a scalpel to his and did some “Book Autopsies”. There are more ideas for things to be done with books to be found here and here. And will you die-hard book lovers kindly stop screaming. It’s not like I wrote a post on how to craft with your mother. Yet.
posted by orange swan (20 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
A previous post on Brian Dettmer's work can be found here.
posted by orange swan at 5:00 PM on January 4, 2009

I have a dieing copy of Catch-22 I and swear I will make something beautiful from its tattered carcass. Yossarian Lives!

And those wristbands are really cool.
posted by Science! at 5:20 PM on January 4, 2009

posted by Science! at 5:21 PM on January 4, 2009

I did that hiding place thing as a gift for my wife last Xmas. It was a big hit. Best of all, within just a couple days of thinking of it, I just chanced across an enormous tome at the dump with the title The Book of Inside Information.
posted by DU at 5:41 PM on January 4, 2009

Great crafty post as usual!

It's too bad, kind of, that I trimmed down my book collection this past move. I guess I'll have to hit up my local librarian to snag some of their discards, seeing as garage sale season is 4 or 5 months away...
posted by porpoise at 5:42 PM on January 4, 2009

Well done heading off the "all books are sacred no matter what" comments at the beginning of the post, orangeswan. I still remember all the vinyl nerd rage when another poster did a fpp about what to do with old scratchy records...
posted by queensissy at 5:47 PM on January 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I must admit, while researching this post I gulped a few times myself when I saw which books had been used as craft materials.
posted by orange swan at 5:51 PM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dear orange swan, you were right, salvation lay within.
posted by maxwelton at 6:45 PM on January 4, 2009

The hiding place thing is something you see in movies, but never think to apply to your own life. A quick look at my bookshelf says that this pound of meth will fit snugly in my Fundamentals of Chemistry textbook. Too obvious?
posted by naju at 7:09 PM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also keep in mind a bookstore is not a good place to do this.
posted by crapmatic at 7:16 PM on January 4, 2009

i am convinced that we have moved beyond reading books to fetishizing them
posted by zenwerewolf at 8:04 PM on January 4, 2009

As cool as that link is, Effigy2000, I really wish they'd mention which version of the Bible it came from, as I could see a lot of it being simple clerical errors. And as much of it doesn't really contradict anything of circumstance (how many sons did Abraham have, again?) I doubt they would be anywhere near convincing to. Well. Anyone who had anything invested in it. But then, I don't really know what would.

Anyway, I like these ideas. I'm going to make a bag!
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:05 PM on January 4, 2009

Definitely better to reuse books rather than putting them in a landfill. The talent of some of the artists is undeniable but I wonder if that talent might have been better used with other media. Interesting reading, thanks.
posted by kindalike at 8:08 PM on January 4, 2009

Wow, Noriko Ambe's stuff is marvelous, as is Brian Dettmer's. Thanks, orange swan; this is awesome. We have outdoor shelves at our store where folks dump unwanted books and I'm always seeing covers that would make great purses. I keep wanting to save them for someone else, but I'm realizing I should just start trying to make them into purses myself.
posted by mediareport at 8:36 PM on January 4, 2009


I just installed one of those in my apartment yesterday and it looks awesome. Highly recommended project. Really easy, really impressive results.
posted by bookwo3107 at 7:24 AM on January 5, 2009

Goodness, I came across that invisible book shelf while researching this post. I assumed the shelf was made out of some invisible hardware, not out of a book, so I didn't include it.
posted by orange swan at 8:23 AM on January 5, 2009

In the words of Peter Griffin, "You can also wear it as a hat."
posted by azarbayejani at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2009

That invisible bookshelf is pure genius.
posted by mediareport at 3:34 PM on January 5, 2009

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