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Paper Craft Ideas: Transform Old Books into Awesome Crafts

by Stephanie Faris
craft & maker

Transform Old Books into Awesome Crafts

Los Angeles paper artist Molly Meng has lots of creative ideas for old book crafts. Always on the hunt for beautiful vintage books, Molly often finds that she has a collection of attractive covers that she uses to create some of the most unique artwork.

Many of her projects require removing a book’s pages, though, and she finds she’s often left with stacks of what she calls “book guts.” Before you toss those pages aside, consider saving them for even more great old book crafts.

Get inspired by Molly Meng's old book crafts on the CreativeLive blog.

Image courtesy Molly Meng

Inspired by the book pages she accumulated during her projects, Molly came up a few recommendations for using those pages to create beautiful works of art. Here are a few fun ways you can use old book pages in your craft projects.

Gifts and Parties

One of the easiest ways to create attractive art with the pages you remove from books is to wrap them around candles. They then become luminaries that you can use to decorate your home or give as gifts.

“The paper is so easy to cut out,” Molly says. “You can create as many candles as you want.”

Molly also recommends using book pages to create name tags, incorporating a dye-cut piece of book paper into the design of the tag. Those can be handed out at parties or corporate gatherings. If you’re looking for a fun new way to wrap gifts, book guts may also be the answer. Molly finds her literary friends especially enjoy having their gifts wrapped in pages from a book. Not only is it a more attractive alternative to standard wrapping paper, it saves money.

Create incredible old book crafts with tips from Molly Meng.Wall Art and Collages

If you have a home to decorate, book pages could be a fun way to spice your rooms up. Simply dye cut each page into circles and sew them together to create a banner. You’ll then have a great art piece for any room of your house, including a child’s bedroom.

You can also turn book pages into a fun photo album. You’ll cut your book pages into the shapes you need to enhance your photos, then work the words around the photos on each page. This is especially effective for photo albums filled with black and white photos.

For scrapbook hobbyists and collage artists, book pages make great collages. They could also be used in creating greeting cards or any other form of art that would benefit from having words as part of the artwork.

When it comes to craft books, one person’s trash is often another person’s treasure. The very books other people are interested in offloading because they’re decades old are perfect books for great craft projects. They have eye-catching covers and, best of all, they’re affordable, as long as you know the right place to search for them.

Get inspired by Molly Meng's old book crafts on the CreativeLive blog.

Image courtesy Molly Meng

Great Locations
Whether you’re looking for the perfect cover or you need a full book for your project, Molly has found old treasures are hiding in unexpected places. “I dig everywhere I go,” Molly says. “Going into a corner where nobody else is and looking at the bookshelves, you’ll find some really great covers.”

Here are a few great places to find books for craft projects:

Estate sales—Often books are overlooked at estate sales. While everyone else is eyeing
all the jewelry and home furnishings, you can stock up on great old books.

Friends of the Library sales—Most libraries have frequent Friends of the Library sales, where local residents can find great deals. If not, your local library may have a dollar section with older books.

Used bookstores—Not only can you save money by buying used books, many used bookstores have clearance and sale sections where you can find books that are perfect for your projects.

Garage Sales—Great finds are hiding in the stacks of books at almost every garage sale Molly visits.

“The covers are artworks in themselves,” Molly says. “I end up having a really big collection of great old books.”

What to Buy:  Some books are perfect for craft projects. During your search, there are a few things Molly advises you to keep in mind.

Collections—Certain classic books are part of a much larger group of books that have similar covers.

Titles—Some covers might be less than perfect, but their titles make them great for craft projects. Molly uses the example of a book called The Word Hoard, which would make a great book cover for switching the interior pages out for pages filled with your own writings. A funny title like The Reason Why could also make a great artistic statement.

Design—Sometimes the design on the cover makes it a great centerpiece in a craft project. In some cases, the bones of the book are great but the design isn’t, so Molly collages on top of the design to take advantage of the great spine and cover.

To learn get more inspiring old book craft ideas, check out Molly’s classes on Concertina Collage Books and Book Boxes.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip, 25 Roses, and the upcoming Piper Morgan series.