Book lovers, avert your eyes. I’m about to rip up books (again) and turn them into something else. But first, a note to all of us for whom books are sacred and for whom the thought of damaging one is tantamount to a violent act: the books used in these wreaths are books that are headed for the shredder. Having them serve in an act of beauty is much better, at least in my studio.
So, book page wreaths. Three styles built on three different backgrounds. You’ll need to gather some materials:
- Wreath base, straw or styrofoam
- One or two inexpensive, small paperbacks. I like to use romance novels because the paper is porous and ages quickly.
- White glue
- Ink stain in a dauber bottle. Tim Holz Distress Stain is a common brand.
- Spray ink with shine or glitter. Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist is a common brand.
- Straight pins, plain or with colored heads.
- Selection of colored papers
- Spray bottle (plain water)
- paper clip or clothes pin (optional)
- gold stamp pad (optional)
Choose the size of wreath you want. The bigger the wreath form, the more pages you need. The size depends if you want to use the wreath to hang on a door, lie on a table, or from a mantel.
1. Ruffled page wreath on straw base. A straw base is wonderful because you do not have to cover it or paint it to hide the “raw” look. Most of these wreaths come wrapped in plastic, which you can leave on. It stops shedding.
Straw wreath with plastic removed. You can leave it on to avoid shedding.
Take a paperback and hold it closed. Rub the ink dauber along the closed pages, on all three sides of the book. (The spine side is where the cover is attached, do not remove the cover).
Be generous with the ink. Cheaper paperbacks work well for this, the ink will soak into the paper nicely. The pages also look aged quickly. Allow the book edge to dry completely. Don’t use paint–use ink. Paint will glue the pages together.
Pages have been partially painted with ink to show method.
Open the book and fold back the cover to the first page completely covered with type. Rip out pages, one at a time. Keep them intact–if a small corner rips off, fine, but if a big chunk rips off, discard it.
Crumple the page as if you were going to throw it away. Squeeze it hard enough to leave wrinkles that stay.
Find the center point of the crumple, pinch it between your fingers to form a “stem” and insert a pin through the open center (not the piece you are pinching).
Push the pin into the straw wreath. Repeat until the wreath is generously covered. Add enough to have it look fluffy and full.
Cut thin pieces of colored paper to match the season. I’ve used orange for Autumn. Spray the paper with plain water and clip it with a clothes pin or paper clip. Allow to dry. It will be curly when you release it. You can also use ribbon for this step. Pin the ribbon ends to the wreath and wind the long end into a pleasing shape.
2. Tailored wreath on styrofoam base. This wreath works well flat as well as hanging on a door or window. The wreath base is white, 8-inch styrofoam:
Dye the edges of the book as in the wreath above. If you want a gold edge, use a stamp pad and rub it against the edges of the book.
Tear out pages and fold the page so the two short ends meet. Do not crease. Fold the colored edges back on both sides so the page looks like a Z.
Staple the bottom. For the first row around the back of the wreath, press the folds closer together. Do not crease sharply. Place the pieces of paper so no spaces show between them.
Wreath, back view. On this model, a blue and white hanging string is already attached.
Turn the wreath over. Press it flat. Repeat the folding and pinning on the front of the wreath. Allow the fold to be a bit uneven, and this time allow them to be open and fuller.
When the wreath is covered all the way, make sure the pins are secure. Take about six more pages and roll them into a cone. Staple the bottom and pin it around the inside of the wreath. Glue the top to the existing page beneath it.
Spray lightly with Glimmer Mist. You can also spray lightly with a spray glue and sprinkle glitter on the wreath.
In the photo above, look at the 3-o’clock position and you will see a page added after the wreath was completed. If you decide to add pages, make sure you tuck them under both the existing pages and the row of cones.
3. Leaf wreath on green 3-D styrofoam ring. The advantage of the ring over the circle is that you have more space and depth. If you use long pins, they will poke through the circle.
Wreath back was photographed when the front was complete.
If you don’t want the color of the ring to show through, paint it first. You can also cover it with burlap strips or foil.
You do not need to edge the pages for this project. Tear the pages out of the book carefully. Cut ovals the length of the page using scissors. You really don’t need to make a leaf template. Make sure at least one end comes to a point.
The leaves will look better if they are not all the same size.
Take an oval, pinch the bottom together to help the leaf form a cupped shape. Staple. Take a pin and starting at the top, with the leaf facing down, pin the leaf to the frame. Repeat from the 12 o’clock position to the 6 o’clock position on the right side. Then repeat on the left.
Once the big leaves are in, tear more pages out of the paperback. Fold the page in half, short end to short end. Cut out two smaller leaves, making sure they are not connected. Fold, staple, tuck and pin the shorter leaves in with the large ones. This gives the wreath fullness and visual interest. You can also cover the sides and back for a really full wreath to hang in a window.
Use construction paper or scrapbook paper, or just about any kind of colored paper to make the wreath look holiday-appropriate. You can also make the wreath entirely of construction paper, but use 2/3 in one color and 1/3 in another. If you use even numbers of leaves, the wreath will look unbalanced.
Common-sense warning: Keep candles, incense, lighters, and anything else that burns away from these wreathes. They are paper and will burn.
—Quinn McDonald is a recycler of books. And just about anything else she gets her hands on.