A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics, researching, 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)
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
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
More Artists Who Work with Books
- Mike Stilkey, California Artist
Click on PLAY SLIDESHOW to see all the book sculptures.
- Brian Dettmer, Chicago Artist
See photos of his work on Flickr (click on his name above).
An Artist Talks about His Sculpture Made from Books
Make a Handbag from a Recycled Book
More Odd Things to Make from Books
- How to Turn a Book Into a Picture Frame | eHow.com
If you are a book lover, or know someone who is, you can take a beautiful book and make it into a keepsake picture frame. Start by using a gorgeous hardcover book from your personal library,...
- How to Make a Journal From an Old Book | eHow.com
Blank books in which to record your thoughts and ideas are readily available at local bookstores, but journal writing can take on a whole new aspect when the first step is to actually create that...
- Book Vases by Laura Cahill
Laura Cahill presented vases and furniture made from unwanted books at New Designers in London earlier this year.
- Repurpose-Recycle-Upcycle Old Books (Squidoo)
Make a hollow book, use books for Christmas decorations, fold a book into an angel shape... lots of interesting ideas here.
Book Pages Turned into Flowers
- Book Staircase
What a nifty idea for anyone with too many books and not enough bookshelves.
- Giant Books Turned into Furniture
How about a cushy book sofa or other piece of furniture. FUN
- This Into That
Actual books converted into bookshelves, wall shelves and other useful items.
- Hidden Bookshelf Door
Just like in the mysteries.... it looks like a bookshelf, but swings open to reveal a hidden room.
- Continuous Loop Bookshelves
At first glance, this one is pretty goofy looking. See what you think.
Find More Ideas Using Pinterest
I Discovered This Book Craft in a Public Library in Indiana
Let's Talk about Book Oddities - What unusual things have you seen made from books?
QuizSquid on February 23, 2014:
It's great to be around books, and these ideas give us even more ways to do that. Great lens!
Colin323 on September 09, 2013:
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 from USA on May 17, 2012:
Some of these ideas are very clever!
KateHonebrink on May 14, 2012:
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!
Kim from Yonkers, NY on March 18, 2012:
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...
greenearthy on February 29, 2012:
I like making a purse with a book I am gonna do this it is kool Nice nice lens
awakeningwellness on September 21, 2010:
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 (author) from Central Florida on September 12, 2010:
@Gloriousconfusion: That would give you a shock, for sure!
Diana Grant from United Kingdom on September 12, 2010:
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 from Australia on September 01, 2010:
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.