Repurposing old books

Part of me cringes at the thought of cutting up books and the other part of me loves the idea of turning an old yellowed hardcover with no hope of being read anytime soon into a work of art.  My newest collage I have started is based on pages from old books.

We visited the Green Hill Center for Art in downtown Greensboro last weekend to see the show Word Maps.  It featured the artists Vicki Essig, Heather Gordon, Paul Rousso, and Merrill Shatzman.  All of the works by these artists were inspiring to me, and I found the show to be such a surprising delight.

Paul Rousso’s work with collage was most interesting to me – his use of old books, comic pages, and newspaper was fascinating.  The scale of his collages were formidable, however upon closer inspection you were able to start recognizing and picking out text and patches of color.

Needless to say, I was inspired.  On the way back to the car we stopped at a used book store and I picked up a few old hardcover books to start my newest collage adventure.

Eric and I had bought a canvas a while back to use as a fireplace screen.  We don’t actually have fires in our fireplace because it is the best current location for the litter boxes.  The canvas does a very nice job of covering up and containing litter, but it was just begging to be clothed.  
I researched adhesives and methods for this collage before beginning and decided to try watering down white glue and brushing it on the book pages, then brushing it on again over the top of the pages.  At first the entire canvas was a wrinkly mess – my best guess is that the canvas was wet and sagged a bit.  Once it was dry it was smooth and leathery to the tough.  
This is only layer one.  I plan on adding more layers and creating some designs as well.  So far I am pleased and wonder why I had not thought of using old books before.  


Published by Chelsea

Art teacher by day. Mother of 2 - day and night. Thrifter, crafter, artist, baker, chef, and DIYer in free time.

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