Decorating with books is all the rage these days. Every retailer from Pottery Barn to 1stdibs sells old (or made-to-look-old) tomes for people to display in their homes. Crafty types have been busy creating wreaths, paper flowers and other pretty paper wares that are tempting me to do something I was taught never to do: destroy a book.
When it comes to crafting with paper, I'm eager to dig into my piles of pretty paper in search of the right one for the project at hand. But if the project calls for using the pages of a book, I've yet to muster up the courage to tear out pages of a book or even bend them.
Last winter, I set my sights on making a wreath made with the pages of a book after being inspired by tutorials I saw on various blogs. Among my favorites was a sweet burlap-backed wreath made using the pages of a "Little Women" book (featured on Redberry Barn blog) and a simple but pretty paper wreath with a detailed video how-to on a post titled, "Librarians, Please Avert Your Eyes" on the Living With Lindsey blog.
I rushed right over to a thrift store, where I took more time picking out a book to rip up than I would usually spend choosing a book to read. I ended up choosing two old romance novels that are now sitting untarnished (and unread) on a bookshelf, largely forgotten until I came across another book-altering (or is it destroying?) project.
More than 50 people weighed in on a post on Apartment Therapy that explained the best way to carve a hole in a book that would serve as a planter. Many commenters lamented the book-cutting but plenty others defended the project as a worthwhile way to repurpose a book that would otherwise remain unread and unused. Being the obsessive type that I am, I began researching or rather Googling "book art" and came across the most wonderful creations.
I suddenly found myself wavering on the whole issue of keeping books intact. Mesmerized, I scrolled through the portfolio pages of London artist Su Blackwell and read through her blog, where she just posted a video detailing the creative process behind a sculpture she created using pages from a book.
Her work is beautiful and evocative, and I further admired her creations upon reading on her website that she reads at least once or twice the book she is using to create her sculptures. Is it OK then to cut up a book in the name of art? And, if so, who is to say that the most beautiful wreath out there is not comparable to an intricate paper sculpture?
Certainly not me. For now, I've decided to leave the romance novels untouched, but I'm not getting rid of them just yet. And it's not because I'm ever planning to read them.