How To Make Functional Art Using Old Books In A Few Easy Steps

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ARTS: Book Art, Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, Peter Creveling, Daily Utah Chronicle

The library’s annual book sale is ending on Friday, and if you’re anything like me, you’re going to end up with a dozen or so books that you didn’t particularly want or need.

Who can blame us when the books start at a dollar on Monday and are free by the time Friday rolls around? Do we need Poetic Freedom and Poetic Truth, one of the most dull, dry pieces of literature analysis ever written? No, but it was free, so into the bag it goes.

Rather than struggling to find a place on your likely overcrowded bookshelves for a bulk of books you may or may not want, consider pulling up Pinterest or using your imagination to create a new work of art. While it may seem sacrilege for an English major to advocate carving up books, this is likely the only way these texts are ever gong to be used again. My favorite project is to make boxes out of them, which can be used as jewelry boxes, false books for decoration or a place to store loose change.

What you’ll need:

  • Three or four old books
  • Scissors or a razor blade
  • A ruler and pencil
  • An assortment of glue: I like to use Elmer’s glue, hot glue and gorilla glue together, but you can make do with the Elmer’s glue

The steps:

To start, pick three or four old hardcover books. I prefer to use really thick textbooks or severely outdated history books because it doesn’t feel like I’m depriving the world of any great literature.

ARTS: Book Art, Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, Peter Creveling, Daily Utah Chronicle
ARTS: Book Art, Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, Peter Creveling, Daily Utah Chronicle

Get a ruler and measure out a rectangle on the first page of whichever book you want to go on top. You want to make sure the rectangle you draw is going to be big enough for your hand and whatever it is you want to put in it.

After this, keep the book open and cut the inside of the rectangle out using a straight razor or scissors. Keeping the pages flat, use this page as an outline to cut out the rest of the pages to keep the book size consistent. This step takes a really long time, so have a long list of podcasts lined up or catch up on the Netflix shows you missed while you work.

When you finally get to the other cover of the book, draw the rectangle again onto the final cover. It is difficult to cut through hardcover books, so either go slowly and cut the book down little by little, or you can use scissors to break through the cover and quickly cut it out. The quality is better with the former, but it’s over so much faster with the scissors.

Then you’re going to want to repeat the process with the next few books (cutting through both covers) until you get to the book you want for the bottom. Don’t cut through that last one. I promise it’s not a fun fix.

When you finally have your books all cut out, you’re going to put it together using the Elmer’s glue. The only thing you have to make sure is that you do not glue the top cover down to the rest of the pages. Again, it’s not fun.

After these books have dried and are sealed shut, place either the gorilla glue or the hot glue onto the top of the bottom book and line up the holes between that one and the book above it. Do the same with the rest of the books.

When all is done, take the hot glue gun and glue any remaining parts of the book down. When it all dries, you’re left with a hollow stack of books.

k.ehmann@dailyutahchronicle.com

@Ehmannky

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