Loving Books

Inside cover of "Shelley"

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.

Bluebird cutout on a front page of "The Burgess Bird Book for Children"

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.

Inside covers of "A Burns Treasury"

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.

One thought on “Loving Books

  1. Fran, I love these butterflies; and Miss Cassie’s book has only improved with the addition of your butterfly. I’m sure she would agree. I do, however, understand your feeling about not altering books. I think it has to do with where your heart is, though, when you alter. The inside covers of “A Burns Treasury” are gorgeous. Goodness, where is art like that in modern books? And, finally, no I do not believe that anyone in their right mind will caress Grandma’s Kindle. Print forever!

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