DIY — 10 Ways to Upcycle Old Books

Posted by on Mar 01, 2011

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Do you ever wonder what to do with old books? They’re a pain to move, store and sometimes even to donate. (Does anybody really need your vintage college biology textbook?) Instead, upcycle the tomes into something completely unexpected. We’ve hand-picked ten old book crafts ideas that’ll make a fabulously unique gift for any occasion … though you might end up just wanting to keep them for yourself. Case in point: This adorable “secret compartment” filled with a teeny dollhouse. To hollow a book, simply cut away sections using a craft knife, then glue the pages together. Fill with the objet d’art of your choice.

upcycled old book lantern
Lovely Lantern

Upgrade any plain paper lantern into something stunning by gluing on “pailettes” made from book pages. Just cut pages using a circle cutter, then glue to the lantern in rows for a scalloped effect.
To check out the lantern, visit Zipper8Lighting.
upcycled old book clock
Must-Read Clock

A big book makes a fabulous clock for a desk (or display on a bookshelf). All you have to do is add clock findings, available at most craft stores. It’ll take about fifteen minutes to convert any hardbound classic.
upcycled old book card holder
Classic Card Holder

Give your office desk personality with a business card holder made by folding the pages. Once all the pages are creased, glue the front and back covers together. Tuck cards between the folds. (Hint: This is also great for displaying postcards and other promo info at craft booths.)
upcycled old book purse
Precious Purse

This idea is especially great for those old dictionaries and encyclopedias that you always end up rescuing from thrift stores (but really have no idea what to do with once the novelty of reading about 1960s bomb shelters wears off). 
To learn how to convert a book into a purse, check out Instructables.
upcycled old book shelf
Best-Seller Shelf

Heavy tomes are also great for turning into furniture. Like, ya know, a bookshelf made of books. How meta! Simply bond books together with strong-holding glue, or download the tutorial from SpoonfulOfChocolate’s shop.
upcycled old book brooch
Nonfiction Brooch

Transform a romance novel into a romantic brooch with some clever paper cutting. Just snip pages into petals, lightly curling the edges for a flowery look. Then layer the petals and glue to a pin.
upcycled old book wreath
Off-the-Wall Wreath

Wreaths aren’t just for holidays. Liven up any boring wall with a 3-D decoration. To do: Accordion-pleat a stack of pages together, staple in the center, then unfold. Fluff to get a nice full look.
upcycled old book pendent sculpture
Dramatic Pendant Sculpture

Fill that space in the entryway with a bold hanging sculpture. Like the business card holder, you’re going to glue the front and back covers together. Then, cut or fold the pages to create geometric forms. String the folded books onto a rope to finish.
For a pre-made pendant, check out Kenjio's shop.
upcycled old book pinwheel
Pages of Pinwheels

This seriously impressive wall art can actually be DIY’d. Start by folding pages into petal shapes (join the long sides together, then snip into segments) and glue together into pinwheels. Arrange on your wall with glue dots.

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  • by eileen.bergen
    User profile

    Some fab ideas here. I really hate to cut books up, though. I should start haunting flea markets, so I won't have an emotional attachment to overcome. lol.

    For a hollowed out book, isn't it easier to glue the pages together and then cut? That's the way I do it. You need a serious craft knife though. It's not easy; but the result is well worth it.

  • by southerndropout
    User profile

    love alllll of these