Books as Wall Art?


One of the bloggers I encountered during my ‘Freshly Pressedadventure is very crafty. In checking out her blog, Almost Never Clever, I discovered her living room wall art project – a framed collage of sections taken from used books.

This involved cutting apart dozens of books, something that normally would make readers and writers cringe. It’s akin to writing in the margins, highlighting and underlining. Some of us do that with wanton abandon; others can’t bring themselves to the desecration.

I have a musical friend who framed old sheets of music for her music room wall and I thought she was a genius. But dissembling books is so permanent. I’m not sure if I could do it. On one hand, the art focuses attention on beloved pieces of literature, features favourite passages. On the other, it’s destructive… almost seems cannibalistic to one who views her books as old friends.

What do you think? My question isn’t intended to direct criticism at the artist because art is always a personal expression of creativity. I’m just wondering if such a project would appeal to you. Is it something you could do without hesitation?



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

18 thoughts on “Books as Wall Art?

  1. I see both sides and I am an avid reader. I know everything is going to e-readers but I am still rebeling against that, as opposed to reading myself to sleep at night with a good old paperback…(-:

  2. I like it! I can imagine putting up some of my favorite pages from my favorite books. I don’t think I can sell my husband on it, but perhaps one of these days — when I have my great, big home office — I can do something like this.

  3. I’m pretty sure I could not do it. I have trouble just getting rid of books. I want to make sure they go to a “good home”. I have so many books. Books of reference, books to entertain me, books to encourage me, books to make me laugh.
    However, one time I did use newspaper on a wall in a bathroom, instead of wall-paper. It actually turned out pretty good. I had a “black and white” theme going in the bedroom, and just carried it to the bathroom. I’m not sure the new owners appreciated my efforts, because as I remember I had a very difficult time getting it to stick to the walls. So I’m sure when they removed it, they weren’t in love with me!
    Great post!

  4. I would do it if A) it wasn’t a valuable book, and B) I had a second copy of the book.

    I’ve seen other projects that are similiar; one had a cube cut into the middle of the pages, several dozen pages deep but still with the last few pages and back cover attached (the front cover had been taken off) and it was a display case. The other was basically the same idea, but both covers were still attached; there the idea was to place valuables in it, stick it on your bookshelf, and wa-la! a nice keeping spot for your valuable jewelry.

  5. I love books and have resisted e-readers because I like to turn actual pages. But I love this art project! I have so many books that are packed away and have been for years. It seems like it would be a better fate for bits and pieces of them to be framed on my wall than stuck in a dark corner somewhere. Yes, I can do this:) Also, have been enjoying your posts since finding you at Freshly Pressed – – thanks for the link to Almost Never Clever.

  6. Thanks for the shout out 🙂 I really thought I would have a problem cutting up the books and it was surprising that I took to it so easily. I don’t think I could bring myself to cut up something off my own shelf, which is why I ordered the most beat up used books I could find. It was much easier that way.

    I’m working on an update post that will go up in the next month or so answering some FAQ’s and talking about how the piece has held up after being on the wall for a while. I can say this – I keep staring at it! My next mission is to use up the rest of the pieces that didn’t go in the piece. Stay tuned!

  7. Hm. I rarely read books twice, so I guess it wouldn’t be a huge waste to turn a collection of books sitting on a shelf into a wall to be enjoyed. A conversion, if you please. On the other hand, if it were my collection of books, I might feel a twinge of regret at cutting them up. I see it as a practical matter. The idea of a wall made of pieces of book pages sounds exciting. Blessings to you, Carol…

  8. I freak out when anyone in my family bends the book’s binding. You can guess how I’d react if they cut the cover off. Yikes. It hurts just saying that. However, if the artist found books that were damages except for the covers, then… that’s okay. It would be like making rags out of worn and torn sheets.

  9. Nope! But taking front covers from paperbacks I’ve gotten from 2nd hand book stores; my collection of bookmarks; and book covers…as well as book cartoons. . ..
    Of course I haven’t yet gotten around to putting them up…but they are here when I’m ready :> (as is most of my “stuff”).
    And thanks Jolene & Katt… hadn’t thought of that :).

  10. I admit it sounds interesting, but the thought of ripping a book apart causes a shudder to move up my spine. I’m a ‘keeper’ though. I save a lot of stuff others don’t find useful. My family has never understood why I can’t just ‘throw’ old books away, but rather will save them forever till I find a new owner. I’ve tried to explain to them that what they see as just paper and print, to me is someone’s accomplishment that they probably sacrificed many other things to create. Every word in every piece of print came from someone’s mind. Isn’t that something magical? Isn’t that art in itself?

  11. We’re obviously of mixed minds. I can appreciate Carol Ann’s practical approach… a conversion of read and no-longer-needed books into a form where they can still be enjoyed. And having someone see art in a book’s printed word, as Lou does, brings me joy! Stephanie, I’ve heard of papering bathroom walls and the bottom of bird cages with rejection letters, but never an office wall. I don’t know about the prettiness aspect, but wouldn’t the letters be a negative reminder of the rejections in a place where we’re trying to be positive and creative? Lots of good thoughts shared… thanks, everyone!

  12. I love the idea in concept only. However, I would like to interject … since no one has thought of this yet.

    With the technology that is available in our world, I would take the book covers and other book art and REPRODUCE on a good copier. You can scan them and enlarge or change. You can use a dozen programs available or just take pictures and upload into your computer.

    It’s an idea I had because I love Record Albums Art and so much of it is done by famous artists … or the singer/song writer is also an artist (Joni Michell) … I would never, never, never take the original work.

    My technique grew from my love of decoupage and the great prints I would find in books, on cards, designs of all kinds including napkins can be scanned and printed on “light” paper for decoupage.

    The copies of book cover art can be printed on card stock and make great wall art. The colors reproduce beautifully, and you can also protect them with a thin layer of poly-spray or brush on.

    Tell the young artists she doesn’t have to use beat-up used books and have the same effect … actually better … and save the books 🙂

  13. That’s a good compromise, Florence. From an artistic point of view I wouldn’t feel the resulting piece would have the impact of an original, but for some it would serve a similar purpose. Certainly your way would eliminate the destruction of books that some might see as a deterrent.

  14. I could never do that! I love books too much–all books, really. It pains me to see ripped apart books re-used as decorations, purses, whathaveyou. My music-loving friend has a similar reaction to decorations made of used records. You can’t help but wonder what was in that book, what songs were on that record. Once destroyed, it’ll never be enjoyed again in its original form. I suppose it doesn’t matter much in today’s digital age, but I fell in love with books when I was young, and these new e-books just aren’t the same.

    1. Thanks for visiting. You echo my concern, that once converted to a decorative use, the book can never again be enjoyed in its original form. It’s not logical, because I could buy an additional copy, even if the digital version wouldn’t satisfy me. Funny how we can get hung up on an idea or opinion!

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