A DIY Gift for Book Lovers Dec 19/16
We are a nation of book-lovers. For many people, a couple of shelves full of beloved books provide comfort and make us feel at home. Even though we’ve embraced E-readers, there’s still nothing like cracking the spine of a brand new book.
Not all books weather the years well. Once read, some are destined to collect dust or get packed away until someone eventually tosses them out. There’s a way to save a few of them from that fate with a simple and beautiful DIY project to make as a gift for your favourite book-lover.
Take three hard-covered books that are roughly the same size, although varying thicknesses look more interesting than the exact same widths. For the investment of a dollar at a charity book sale, I found two outdated marketing guides that were published before the advent of social media, and one of six copies of a John Grisham novel from more than a decade ago.
You can use latex paint, but chalk paint coats textured book covers beautifully, so I chose a shade of grey found in my recipient’s living room, and a bright red for a pop of colour. Protect the pages with paper or cloth and make sure to coat the inside rim of the cover with the new shade. Don’t worry if the first coat is blotchy. The second application will even it out.
A choice of lettering on the spine is a matter of taste. You could apply a title, a category, or something else that’s more personal. Stencilling is a little time consuming with more potential for errors, so I decided to go with inexpensive letter stickers in different fonts.
When the books are dry and the stickers or stencils finished, apply some white glue between the books and let it set. Then coat the top and spines with Mod Podge. This will seal the project and give it a bit of sheen without making it too shiny. It will dry in about twenty minutes.
Your next decision is how to tie the books together. Options range from thin leather string (used in jewellery-making) to twine to a leather belt, which I employed after my husband deemed it no longer wearable. The buckle and most of the leather was still in good shape. All it needed was a new hole and to be shortened a bit. This look has an old-school feel to it – literally. Long before students used backpacks to carry books, our grandparents and great-grandparents bound their textbooks together with a belt and simply carried the bundle by the strap.
Depending on your level of craftiness and experience with power tools, you could choose to cut into the top cover and first several pages to make an area for a candle to sit. Be sure to set a glass votive holder or some other barrier between the melting wax and the combustible books. Your selection of colours, lettering and the binding you use will personalize this project. At the same time, you’ll repurpose a few forgotten books and save them from the landfill.