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Book Oddities: Unusual Uses for Books

Updated on June 28, 2017
Virginia Allain profile image

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics and information for library users and librarians.

Books Turned into Furniture, Art and Other Unusual Uses for Books

It amazes me that there are so many things you can do with books besides reading them. I'm a retired librarian and I love books. Books can be art or furniture or so many other things. Quite a few artists have dabbled with altered books.

Here are some of the fun and off-beat ways that books transform into useful or artful objects that have nothing to do with reading.

I'd love for readers to share with me their unique craft or book themed use. I'd like to feature it here.

(book stack photo by Virginia Allain)

ALTERED BOOKS

Books into Art - Meet the Artist

I stumbled upon an artist that really speaks to me with her creations. Susan Hoerth, takes something vintage like a book and turns it into a sensational multi-dimensional visual feast.

She creates a scene using folding and cutting and other paper art techniques that are one-of-a-kind. Now, you might think it odd that as a librarian, I find these so appealing. Aren't librarians supposed to revere and preserve books? To me, her art is just another interpretation of the story residing within the pages. Many books end up in recycling bins, but altered book artists give them new life.

I asked the artist if I could showcase some of her altered books on my blog. They are so special, that I wanted more people to see them. She gave me permission to do that.

Susan Hoerth's Edgar Allen Poe Book Sculpture

Art created by Susan Hoerth and featured in her Etsy store, called RaidersoftheLostArt. The topic is Works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Art created by Susan Hoerth and featured in her Etsy store, called RaidersoftheLostArt. The topic is Works of Edgar Allan Poe. | Source

More by Artist Susan Hoerth

The example below features the 1901 Tales from Shakespeare. For added dimension, the artist used pearls and lace with this vintage book. Each of these fantastic pieces takes hours of work.

She's made access to her work more affordable by creating downloadable prints that people can frame. Here's an example of that with Beauty and the Beast. Since each work of art is unique and one-of-a-kind, this is a good way to make them available to a wider audience.

What do you think of the painstaking creative art I've shown you here? Would you have ever imagined that a book could be turned into such unique scenes?

Susn Hoerth's Transformation of a Book into Beauty and the Beast Art Piece and also Tales from Shakespeare

Used with permission of the artist.
Used with permission of the artist. | Source
Tales from Shakespeare
Tales from Shakespeare | Source

An Artist Talks about His Sculpture Made from Books

USEFUL THINGS

TO MAKE FROM

OLD BOOKS

Make a Handbag from a Recycled Book

Book Pages Turned into Flowers

My niece, a librarian, had a book themed wedding, since she is a librarian. The runners down the center of the tables were book pages with artful edges (scrapbooking technique) and she made roses from book pages for centerpieces.
My niece, a librarian, had a book themed wedding, since she is a librarian. The runners down the center of the tables were book pages with artful edges (scrapbooking technique) and she made roses from book pages for centerpieces. | Source
Here's the table runner. Look at the decorative edges they added using scrapbooking punches. Between each place, she put a handmade velvet bookmark too. It was a delightful wedding
Here's the table runner. Look at the decorative edges they added using scrapbooking punches. Between each place, she put a handmade velvet bookmark too. It was a delightful wedding | Source

BOOKS AS FURNITURE

OR ARCHITECTURE

Find More Ideas Using Pinterest

I have a Book Art pinboard on Pinterest so I can pin all the great ideas I see for transforming books into odd things. Look around on Pinterest and you'll find lots of ideas.
I have a Book Art pinboard on Pinterest so I can pin all the great ideas I see for transforming books into odd things. Look around on Pinterest and you'll find lots of ideas. | Source

I Discovered This Book Craft in a Public Library in Indiana

I don't know if this is the work of the librarian or an artist or if they used old books for a children's craft program. Eye-catching for sure.
I don't know if this is the work of the librarian or an artist or if they used old books for a children's craft program. Eye-catching for sure. | Source

Let's Talk about Book Oddities - What unusual things have you seen made from books?

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    • QuizSquid profile image

      QuizSquid 

      4 years ago

      It's great to be around books, and these ideas give us even more ways to do that. Great lens!

    • profile image

      Colin323 

      5 years ago

      Some book art is sublime and inventive, and it's great to see old books used in this way, instead of pulped. I guess it is a logical extension of the 'pop-up' book idea that goes back to the 19th century. Very interesting lens.

    • Karli McClane profile image

      Psycho Free Zone 

      6 years ago from USA

      Some of these ideas are very clever!

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 

      6 years ago

      These altered book ideas are so creative, interesting and inventive! Love all the different options I would never have thought of! Nice job on this lens and congratulations on making the upcycling/recycling monsterboard!

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Kim 

      6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      I can understand recycling, and i like looking at art & sculptures etc but when libraries don't have such big budgets & those who are not able to afford top purchase new books or have a credit card to buy used off of amazon or an

      e-reader etc. It would be nice if those that 'destroyed' the books instead donated them to the library or even at a thrift store. (there's going to be a day where finding a physical book is rare. The pages are made of varies fibers some cotton others hemp etc. The smells & textures plus they have been a help in crimes when forensics test for finger prints or what chemicals the book may have been in contact with. (blood always leaves a trace) As someone who as well is creative in a variety of ways, writing as well as the occassional art ideas I am not badmouthing it but think if you were the author of one of those books and saw that it was used in it, how you would feel & don't automaticaly say fine. Loking at it will tell you (tho you may like the sculpture ide etc) That oh this person thought my writing was garbage but yet is willing to show it off in their art...

    • profile image

      greenearthy 

      6 years ago

      I like making a purse with a book I am gonna do this it is kool Nice nice lens

    • awakeningwellness profile image

      awakeningwellness 

      8 years ago

      And here I thought books were just for reading! Seriously I love books too much to consider cutting them up, although there have been a few that I read so many times that they fell apart. (o:

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      @Gloriousconfusion: That would give you a shock, for sure!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      The first artificial book I ever saw had a leatherbound book spine with the name of the "author" inscribed in goldleaf. It turned out to be a wooden box with a small lady's hand gun inside it, made to look like a book, and, of course, placed on a bookshelf in between other books. Owning guns without a licence is illegal in England, so it was quite a shock finding this in my inlaws' book collection!

    • Lou165 profile image

      Lou165 

      8 years ago from Australia

      I love books too and I can't bring myself to cut into one to create a hidden compartment no matter how old it might be :( There is another lens about making handbags from books which you might find interesting it's by BevsPaper.

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