Diminishing the Paper Stash: Papier Mache

Being a book lover, the idea of cutting, tearing or otherwise defacing books leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. But, being a publisher, I also understand the fact that hundreds, thousands, millions of unsold, misprinted or otherwise unsaleable books meet their maker pulper every single day. I am also lucky enough to be on the receiving end of many a proof or misprinted copy of book, which cannot be sold on, even by charity shops. Some of these books are, frankly, a great disappointment to read. But what to do with them when they’re finished with?

What about papier mache?

I have so far completed two papier mache projects using one, slim paperback volume. The book in question I read, enjoyed, but knew I’d never read again. Still, I LOVED the style of the illustrations, and wanted to incorporate them into a design somehow. So I made myself a button-sorting tray.

Firstly, I tore the pictures from the book, then reduced the rest to papier-mache squares. I built up two layers of basic papier mache on each side of an old warped baking tray, using the less interesting pieces of paper torn from the book (a cut-down plastic tray, say from stir-fry veg, would work just as well). For the third layer, I deliberately chose squares populated with dense prose and pretty words, then arranged the images on top. I coated this liberally with my PVA glue/water mix, and allowed plenty of time to dry.

For more crafting ideas using unwanted books see our book recycling post.

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