reading

A spot of DIY Book Art, and a Giveaway…

DIY Book Art

Firstly a huge thank you for the lovely comments about Harry’s playroom and the Book Nook; it quite made my week.  The folded book art seemed to capture a few imaginations, so this week here’s a mini tutorial on how I made the various books above and below, using a pile of 20p junk shop books.  Trial, error, glue and a large glass of wine all played a role in the end results, but if you’re inspired to have a go, read on.  If the idea of laboriously folding your way through a fusty and dog-eared old novel is about as appealing as dental extraction, whisk straight to the end and allow me to tempt you with a giveaway instead.

book art tutorial

1. Creating a hanging ‘Cascade’ book

I made this one last night using a small (6 inch) hardback Peppa Pig book from a charity shop.  Find any hardback book; kids’ books are great for this as they don’t have many pages.  You’ll also need glue or double-sided sticky tape, a round pencil or pen (for rolling the paper), and a stack of paper for your cascades.  I used Papermania solid card stock, which I adore, but anything will do; brightly coloured tonal papers give this lovely effect, but clashing rainbow colours or plain paper also look great, depending on where you intend to hang it.

  • Start by rolling each page over on itself and sticking it in place so you have a series of gentle loops.  Doing this will gently force the book covers out to lie flat (or at least to be held open), and create a kind of concertina of folds for you to tuck your cascading pages into.
  • Take a series of sheets of paper that are approximately the same size as the original book pages, and again gently roll each one over on itself and stick the ends together, giving you a selection of tubular, petal-shaped inserts.  Don’t use too much pressure here; you want rounded curves rather than creases.
  • Tuck in your pages randomly between the folded book pages, and secure in place with glue or tape.
  • Add a few more pages by taping these to your first layer of inserts
  • Next, take some strips of contrasting colour paper and roll them up in a pencil, before gently pulling out to give a tendril-like effect.  Glue these in place between the lowest layer of looped paper.
  • Finally, screw a small eyelet hook into the centre of the cardboard book spine and use this to hang it from the ceiling or a wall hook.
  • You can make these as big and fluid as you like, by adding layer after layer; it would make a beautiful mobile or sculpture trailing down a wall.. when I get the time I’m thinking of making a huge, floor to ceiling one in muted papers for a corner of our bedroom.

cascade book

2. Creating Rolled Books

Roll-folding books

These are the easiest to make, if you choose the right kind of book.  They look beautiful when stacked in loose piles, but also when hung as barrel-like pendants.  First, decide whether you are going to fold just the middle of the book like the first one above, or whether you want to create a whole rolled book (middle).  You can also leave a single sheaf of pages standing proud (above right) for added interest.

  • For a ‘barrel’ book, choose a chunky book (200-300 pages); the width will help it hold its shape. First, ease off the paperback book cover and any loose pages which come away with it.  Flex the spine a bit until it loosens – as if it’s been read many many times.  You’re hopefully using old junk shop books so this won’t take long.
  • Glue a long piece of string along the exposed spine; this will allow you to hang the book when finished and is much easier than trying to thread string through the finished piece.
  • Open the book in the middle and take a section of about 20 pages and roll it into the spine.  Do this 3 or 4 times and they will start to hold their form and push the book outwards.  You can glue or tape these loops in place by gluing the upper most sheet and pressing firmly into place, but often you won’t need to use any glue at all.

rolled book close up

  • Once you get to the end of the book, go back to the middle and work around the other half, doing the same.  The book will naturally form an increasingly tight barrel, and you will end up tucking your loops in. Glue your final loop in place and – hey presto – you have a rolled barrel book.  If you want to hang it up, thread a bead to the bottom of the spine string to hold it in place and for the book  to ‘sit on’, and you’re done.

Display below from Anthropologie

anthropologie

3. Folded Books

These are very simple but a little more time-consuming.  I showed you one last week which involved folding just a section of the book.  If you follow the same principle and work your way all through the book, you’ll end up with a diamond-like hanging pendant like this;

folded book pendant

I made these by the making the same two simple folds – just over and over again.  If you’re making a hanging pendant, choose a thick book (at least 300 pages) so you get a nice full shape.  And yes, that’s 600 folds, hence the large glass of wine.  Other learnings; don’t do this whilst your 3yr old son is still awake and, inspired by the crafting environment, is demanding to be allowed to do some ‘scissor practice’ on your book.  Also don’t practice your folding technique on the paperback being read by your husband, even if it was lying temptingly on the table; it won’t be appreciated. So, take your book and simply fold once to the centre;

fold 1

And twice to bring the top corner down to meet the fold; then keep doing this for every single page.  As before, if you want to hang these ultimately, glue some cord down the external spine before you begin folding, leaving a good length hanging out at either end.

fold 2

Once you’ve got the hang of folding, you can experiment with punches too; I used a circle punch to take a slice out of each page of this one below.

DIY folded book pendant

Phew; enough curling and folding; I’m now bedecked with small paper cuts and doubtless the beginnings of repetitive strain injury, but I do have a beautiful shelf full of repurposed books.  let me know how you get on..

And finally.. I have a $100 gift certificate for US craft supplier the Shoppe at Somerset to give away.  I received this as a ‘thank-you’ for a piece that I wrote for one of their publications, but whilst the e-store is filled with a myriad of tempting things, prohibitive transatlantic shipping costs mean that I’d much rather a reader of this blog is able to benefit and to spend every cent on frivolous but delicious craft materials.  If you’d like to win this, just let me know in a comment below and Harry will do the big draw on Monday.

vibrant book cascade

Happy folding (and wine drinking…)!

In Praise of Simple Pleasures

I finished work this week, increasingly giddy with that end-of-term feeling that I’ve never quite managed to grow out of. I love my job, but the thought of hanging up briefcase and heels and simply nesting for 3 whole weeks is a wonderful one. With the recent intensity of work and the heady social chaos of the festive period, it feels like we’ve not quite seen enough of each other of late, and certainly haven’t seen much of the house in daylight hours. As a result, this weekend has been spent decorating for Christmas, eating hot, buttery crumpets, piling logs onto the fire and just enjoying being here, with each other, with no alarm clocks and no cause to rush.

small pleasures
It’s a time of contentment in simple pleasures, like the unwrapping and rediscovery of cherished ornaments, like these Faberge-esque beauties bought at the now defunct Smith & Hawken store in Manhattan on my first ever trip to the city a decade ago, along with a box of vibrant and perfectly round glass berries which catch the light and twinkle against bare branches which I’ve propped in vases and dotted about the house

S&H eggs
S&H berries
I’ve finally brought down the last of the boxes full of books which have been hidden up in the loft for the last year whilst we tackle the renovation, and spent a lovely hour picking out some old barely-remembered favourites to re-read over the holidays. They sit stacked full of promise on my bedside table, and the anticipation of losing myself in them again is half the pleasure. This year I’m hoping that Santa brings Nora Ephron’s poignant novel Heartburn, which I’ve inexplicably failed to read in the decades since it stormed the best seller lists.

reading pile

We’ve been filling the house with some of the treats I associate with childhood Christmas, like bowls of these fat satsumas, easy enough for Harry to peel without help and impossible to walk past without taking one…

satsumas
And pots and planters filled with cyclamen, one of my all-time favourite plants, with their plucky flowers which look like they’ve been blown upwards with a hairdryer – apparently fragile yet able to withstand freezing temperatures and the accidental casual neglect they suffer at our hands

cyclamen
And we’ve begun the process of decorating the house for Christmas, little by little. Whilst I sort of admire that Marthas of this world who can magic up a Christmas wonderland in the space of one night whilst the rest of the house sleeps, for us it tends to be a very gradual build of festive accents and treasures, as we build up to the big day. This weekend our log basket has gained a garland of Japanese origami paper lights;

concertina lights
And this salvaged barn star leans casually against the kitchen skirting

amish barn star
Whilst the ancient typewriter in our entrance hall hammers out a traditional carol

remington

I’ve added a few handmade decorations too this year, like the paper stars I posted about in November, and these star garlands, made by laying two flat star cut-outs on tops of each other and stitching together before bending out to form a 3d star. These look great if you use different but tonal colours (I layered yellow and orange, and red and pink), but also beautiful in a subtle, rustic way if you use plain white paper, newspaper or muted shades. Run them through your sewing machine and just pull out about an inch of extra thread between each one.

star garlands

As part of holiday preparations I also did a tour of the house changing out blown lightbulbs, and gathered quite a hoard, so – inspired by this idea – I’ve coated the candle bulbs in white glue and dipped in glitter to make these sparkly tree ornaments. To create hanging loops, I’ll thread yarn through a small button and glue it to the top of each bulb to hold it in place. I’m just deciding whether to use these as gift toppers, tree decor or to simply place in wine glasses for Christmassy evening dinners as a sparkly place setting for guests. I tried various different colours but loved the deep graphite-like grown-up sparkle of these ones the most.

glitter bulbs DIY
And finally I’ve of course been doing a bit of festive culinary experimentation, like making these Christmas tree pie-toppers from puff pastry and pink peppercorns; use them on tops of stews and casseroles or instead of a full pie crust. For sweet pies, I’d simply dust them with icing sugar and maybe use edible silver balls in place of the peppercorns.

puff pastry trees
My favourite of all though was finally getting round to making a Bûche de Noël – the English translation of a chocolate log is distinctly inferior to the magnificent French original, and this ganache-coated chocolate sponge will I think become a family favourite for the future. I added mushrooms fashioned from marzipan and gave it a festive coating of icing sugar ‘snow’ (which also helps to hide any heavy-handedness in the rolling process..)

buche de noel
And as you know, I can never resist adding a dash of pyrotechnics..

buche de noel

It’s been a weekend of nesting, of family and friends, and of holding each other a little tighter and counting our blessings as events unfold in the outside world.  I hope you had a good one, and that the world where you are is safe and warm.