Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Books as Art

By Pat Remick

After investing so much time thinking about how to construct books, it's fascinating to see how some creative people are deconstructing them in the name of art.

Like all writers, I love books -- to read them, hold them, admire their covers, collect them, discuss them and write them. I have hundreds of books in my home but can't resist adding more or searching for new ones in bookstores.

I consider myself a true bibliophile and as such, I've been concerned this whole e-book phenomena means it won't be long before books as most of us know them will be found only in libraries, yard sales and antique shops. Or in expensive homes, all with color-coordinated redone covers, as I read about in a recent New York Times article about using books in decorating.

I recently stumbled into a handicrafts shop that displayed amazing art creations from recycled books and it was comforting to see that even if e-books are taking over the world, there are those who still appreciate the beauty of books in their traditional form.

There were purses made from book covers selling at more than $100 each, but I suspect many female mystery fans would die to own a Nancy Drew handbag like these.

Another artist turned book covers into small and large wallets, such as the Robin Hood one to the left.

There also were garlands made from creative cutouts of book pages. And a clever crafter fond of the phrases used in the Romance novel genre turned some of them into pins called "The Naughty Bits," such as "He Wanted to Punish." (I am reluctant to share the others, but suffice it to say they were titillating enough to make me blush.)

But my favorite reuse of books involved the creations of a woman identifying herself as "The Naughty Librarian" who "lives out every librarian's evil fantasy; taking paint, glue and even (gasp) A KNIFE to the precious books."

Artist and librarian Robn Delaloyle rescues and recycles unwanted books, sculpting them "into beautiful and unusual works of art" such as the three on the shelves to the left (one of which is now on my own bookshelf) and the crazy one below.

It had never occurred to me that a literary work of art could become a visual one, as well. Can anyone say the same about an e-book?

To see more examples of the creative recycling of touchable books, visit

What's the most imaginative use of a book you've seen?


Joyce Tremel said...

I want one of those Nancy Drew purses! Although at $100 each, I'll have to make one myself.

Hallie Ephron said...

This is so cool! Uber-origami!

Jenna said...

I wouldn't mind a Nancy Drew purse, either, but like Joyce, I think I'll just figure out a way to make one. Can't be that hard, can it?

Like you, Pat, and like a lot of other people, I like touching books. Owning them, petting them, stroking them. Going into a store or library and seeing them lined up on shelves gives me a sort of warm glow inside that I don't get from the Kindle lists on Amazon. And yet, the whole ebook 'revolution' is interesting to me. Think I'll do a blog post on it, rather than ramble here, though.

Gina said...

In some ways I love the 'books into art' idea, but at the same time I find myself feeling appalled at the damage to the books. Books seems sacred to me. They should be protected, not shredded. Also, as an attorney, I can't help but wonder about the artists who created those covers and whose work is now being sold without them receiving compensation. I don't know enough about copyright law to judge whether or not they would have a case.

Patg said...

I have to agree with Gina over being of two minds about this. Creativity on one hand, destruction on the other.
I cringed seeing those Nancy Drew's turned into a purse.

C.L. Phillips said...

The only thing that would make these purses better would be if they came with matching cowboy boots.

A girl can't ever have enough matching purses and boots.

Ensemble, anyone?

PatRemick said...

CL, how to make boots to match from bookcovers? Interesting... and I hadn't thought about the point Gina makes about the covers being reused for someone else's profit. Those of you brave enough to try your own book creations, be sure to let us know how it goes!! I think Hallie's right -- it's a sort of orgami. I'm going to try one of those!