As a writer, I view the craft of “altering” books with some unease. I know of the yearning and the dreams that were granted safe harbor between two covers, and the sheer hard work involved, and the thought of taking a book, pulling its guts out, gluing its pages together, and treating it like a piece of lumber, is really distressing. And this is even after working in a Library for years, and having seen that many books are pretty prosaic, whether they are accounting textbooks or mildewed Harlequin romances. But I still hold them in reverence. This all came to mind after posting about the papercut bookplates (Feb. 12). I found that holding these old books, admiring them, and then adding to them, in my own small way, was so satisfying. Then I remembered a book I have called “Old-Time Butterfly Vignettes in Full Color,” and the idea of decoupaging butterflies in some of these books fluttered into my mind. It wasn’t long before I had my decoupage scissors out, my butterfly vignette book at hand, and was sitting watching “The Brontes of Haworth” (a five-part series on DVD), and I sank into a kind of craft-induced euphoria. I can’t offer much advice on decoupaging–the main thing is to not waste your time on images from seed catalogs, for instance, which usually are on poor-quality paper. The Butterfly Vignette book is from a Vignette series by Dover that is worth investigating. I used Yes! Paste glue, and don’t recommend white craft glue for this, as it has a high water content.
Purchasing decoupage prints at craft stores is another option. Here I have decoupaged a bluebird picture into a children’s bird book. I found the bluebird in a package of “Hand-Painted Decoupage Prints” by Sherry C. Nelson.
As you can see, these books have been pretty banged up, and are not precious. But I like to think I have added to their history.
Speaking of being banged up, here are the inside cover and first page of a copy of “McGuffey’s New Fourth Eclectic Reader: Instructive Lessons for the Young.” The inside covers are full of interesting scribblings–the original owner apparently was Miss Cassie Meullin–and I have added my own mark in the form of a geranium and butterflies paper cutout.
Here is the inside cover of a little book that needs no embellishment. The actual book is only 2-1/2″ x 3-3/8″ and is covered with red plaid silk. On the flyleaf is my grandmother’s signature and the date: J.M. Knapp 1913.
Someday, will someone hold and caress their grandmother’s Kindle, in this same way? I wonder.
Note: The Sept. 18, 2011 post on “Oak Leaf Bookmarks,” also uses butterfly cutouts from the Butterfly Vignette book.