Tuesday’s 10: Repurposed Books

I am a book-a-holic. And not just reading them; a good half of my degree was in hand-producing limited edition books. Mostly, though, my love of books relates to my spending so much time in my childhood in the neighbourhood library, curled up in the big window over the radiator (where I wasn’t supposed to sit) reading children’s novels from the 40s and 50s. (I was eccentric and particular, other books could be read at home, but at the library, it was all about the library smell and the aesthetics of a fictional world I badly wanted to live in.)  

I just finished a sketchbook  project I’ve had sitting around waiting to be sewn for about 4 years now. I don’t know what took me so long. I haven’t sewn a binding for so long and I’m not so happy with the neatness of the stitches, but for not having done a book in years and for personal use, it’s not bad. 

photo of the bindingphoto of the end paper 

I love the cover illustrations on the Child Craft books and I’ve wanted to turn them into sketchbooks for ages. I’m really weird about books though, I feel so terrible about cutting them up or using them for other purposes, even though I know I can make more useful things out of them. I’m starting slowly then in my quest for a whole set of Child Craft sketchbooks, just one at first. I notice a lot of re-purposed book sketchbooks and journals have spiral bindings, but I don’t like that look, so I went with a modified long-stitch. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out (if only the stitches were a little tighter.) 

In honour of a project I can finally cross off my todo list; this week’s Tuesday 10 is all about really cool uses for old books. Most everything is an etsy find, but I also had to add the work of a book artist I’ve loved for years. 

1. belt buckle made of a bookcover  

I really love Maxine Dear‘s belt buckles made out of old covers.  What a great way to showcase  cover illustrations. 

2. hollow book image 

Hollow books are nothing new, but they are a fantastic way to recycle all of those Reader’s Digest condensed books collections that are eternally found on the “please take these books away for free” carts at all local libraries in the English Speaking world. (Who wants to read a condensed book anyway? Let alone a whole library of them. Except maybe Moby Dick, which would have been an exciting book if he hadn’t bogged the adventure down with all that symbolism and whole chapters about seeing whales in the clouds and weather vanes, but I digress. ) Secret Safe Books takes it up a notch and repurposes the fancy foil-tooled leather-bound classics you can amass collections of via direct mail advertising.  Give your bookshelf a mysterious secret passage feel of an English Mystery book.hollow book to hide flask 

I like this flask safe too 

3. repurposed bird book journal 

There are tons of repurposed cover sketchbooks and journals out there on etsy like this cute bird one from coverstories.  This one, like most, is spiral bound something I’ve never liked because I don’t like the way the spiral digs into my arm. But, when I think about it, if you’re going to use it for a notepad and need to rip the pages out, it would be more useful than a signature binding. 

4. repurosed book handbag 
I’m totally in love with the idea of turning covers into purses like this handsome handbag from Angela’s Novel Idea. I think it’s because this is something I never would have thought of and it’s genius. 

5. envelope seals made from book
Brinner has a set of envelope seals made out of the pages of old books.  Very cute. They remind me of this set of buttons I bought at a RISD alumni fair where the artist had cut out circles of text from old books and scratched out all but a couple of words with a pen. My favourite said “suddenly wistful.” (I couldn’t locate it or find any online so I couldn’t add it to the list, alas.) 

6. comic book passort cover
owlsay made super cool passport holders out of old comic books. I remember making wallets out of comics waterproofed with packing tape and one from the pages of an old graphic design magazine with iron on vinyl and sewed. 

7. paper garland made out of recycled book
This paper garland from missisaau is cute as can be. This would be a great use for old magazines too. 

8. envelopes made from a recycled dr suess book 

Picture book envelopes from
42 things and 

envelopes made from Where the Wild Thing Are book 

another cute set from Adnagam (who frequently has a pretty cool set made out of an anatomy colouring book for sale)  


photo of an art work by Thomas Allen

copyright Thomas Allen


Thomas Allen is one of my favourite book artists. I discovered him from an article I ran across on the web about this series he did with pulp crime novels. I love the idea of making these film noir pop-ups with nothing but a stack of old dime novels and an exacto knife. 

10. book illustration on canvas
Last but not least is this piece from Truly Sanctuary. Illustrations, particularly in picture books are works of art, so why not hang them from your walls when the book has given up the ghost? I’d love to do that with the old copy of McElligot’s Pool (which is my favourite Dr. Seuss book of all time) that lost its cover years ago and is floating around my parent’s house. 

And that is the Tuesday’s 10. I think I’ll plan some new biblio-projects for my rapidly emptying project list.


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