Thursday, 18 November 2010

Recycled Books

Hello, hello! I'm Rhubarb aka Sara from Rhubarb & Ella, and unbeknown to you I have been lurking as a reader of the BEST blog for a year. I have only just sprung into action with my own shop, and I hope to pop up now and again on the BEST blog as an occasional Thursday contributor.

I'm not a professionally trained bookbinder. I started like many BEST members, going to a class and being hooked by the wonder of making my own first hard-cover book, then buying and attempting to decipher Keith Smith's wonderful instruction books. In the process I discovered a new phobia to add to my collection! I'm not sure what it's called but it is defined as a fear of defacing a printed text and I'm sure I'm not alone...

How many years did I spend being told not to write or draw in books? Answer: lots! And it still feels really naughty to take an old book and turn it into something new.

I've taken to scouring second-hand book stores and sales for nice bindings with damaged text blocks with the justification that I'll be "rescuing" the covers... and as I live in a humid environment on the sub-tropical north coast of New South Wales in Australia there are lots of books around that have water damage or foxing on their pages, but the covers are reasonably intact.

A recent purchase was "The Modern Book for Boys", a lovely annual from (I think) the 1930's, full of gung-ho stories of aspirational upper-middle-class private schoolboys having jolly japes, solving crimes and thwarting bullies. The covers are slightly worn but I was able to make a new spine and mend the corners, turning the covers into a clam-shell box and using salvaged drawings as part of a coptic-bound sketchbook to go inside.

I have a pile of other second-hand books waiting for similar treatment!

When I've got my courage up I hope to do far more radical things... I am anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus this year with (a little bird tells me) a Dremel in his sack for me! Suddenly drilling, sanding and carving might be added to my growing range of techniques. In my fine arts practice I make artists' books which tend to be quite sculptural, so I am excited to see the work of people like Graham Hay and Brian Dettmer who are inspiring me to do more with those discarded text blocks. Who inspires your work?


Eva/ Lady Artisan said...

Love the remake of the book you bought! I hope you decide to share a post about what you do with your Dremel after you've got it.

Lizzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lizzie said...

Me too! I have lots of old books, waiting to be re-purposed... and I also have a bit of trouble doing this, since I was taught that books were special and must be treated with respect!
I like what you are doing with your old books. Great work Sara!
(What an amazing selection of coloured linen threads you have...)