Book: Repurposed

Raised by parents who thought books were sacred, I always cringe when I re-purpose a book. When I see books bound for the dumpster, I will choose to save a book and turn it into art before I “respect” it right into the trash.

Seeing a pile of old paperbacks, I chose several for their covers and relatively good shape. I wanted to use the covers for my Mastermind Group. First, I cut the covers, both front and back, cleanly off the book.

Book with cover cut off.

Then I trimmed the corners off the covers, used gesso to paint over any of the inside covers that were marked or printed.

Trimmed book covers

What I have now is postcards, almost ready for my Mastermind Group. I trimmed the corners to make them round and look more like old-fashioned postcards. At the group’s meeting, I turned all the covers over, so the blank sides were up, and each group member chose what looked like a blank postcard. They then turned the card over to reveal either the front or back cover of a book. They read the title or book blurbs and used that as a starting point to write a postcard to themselves. It’s a great exercise–each person gets to see their life as a book description. What do they write on the card?  They start with a reaction to something on the cover–the adventures of the main character,  the struggle in the plot,  the praise in the book blurb. How is this like their life? How is it completely not true?  For example, the book blurb on the card I drew says, [the character] “leaves a vivid impression on the mind of those who never knew her.” Powerful stuff for a creativity coach, isn’t it? What do I need to step up to make that true? It makes for an interesting message on the postcard.

I then gather up the postcards, put a stamp on them, and each person gets their postcard during the week as a reminder of their goals or insights.

We write a message that makes the book title or plot ours.

What about the rest of the book? It gets re-purposed, too. I folded over the first page, tucking the outside edge up to the spine and running over the fold with a bone folder.

Fold each page the long way.

Then do the rest of the book. If you get tired of folding the pages the long way, toss in a few corner folds. It adds interest.

Book folds, completed, seen from top.

All the folds hold without glue. In addition to being visually interesting, the folded pages make room for tucking in additional pieces–loose journal pages, postcards, ATCs (artist trading cards), or interesting origami or decorated envelopes. You can see how the folds would support additions from this side view.

The book, fully folded, lies flat and is ready for altering and adding to.

That’s as far as I got with the first book–postcards and altering it enough to work with. You can fold the pages with all corners or no corners. I like the break in the shape, it makes it more textural. I’ll post more photos when this one is complete.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, creativity coach, and raw art journaler.

5 thoughts on “Book: Repurposed

  1. Love the postcard idea, Quinn! Don’t forget the nemesis of all libraries: the Reader’s Digest Condensed Book. Cut the innards out and add some tyvek to the sides of the cover and a handle and you have a purse; use the innards the same way as you did, above (there’s a way to fold them into a pine-tree shape so you can make your own Christmas decorations from them, too). Or glue all the pages together, cut the middles out and you have boxes. So many icky books, so little time!

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  3. What an intriguing idea. The postcard concept is a great journaling prompt and seeing what you’ve done with the ‘guts’ of an old paperback, well can’t wait until you post an update!

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