Breathe new life into old books

As digital media becomes more and more popular over printed material, many have come to appreciate books for their tangibility, as art objects in themselves. But even those who love books may find that they’ve hoarded many that they may never again open or read. If you have old books lying around that you might not use for reading, consider upcycling them with these projects.

1. Turn it into a tablet case

Got ebooks saved on your tablet? Dress the device up with a clever disguise. With a knife, a bit of fabric and some glue, you can hollow out a book to make a beautiful vintage case for your tablet or ereader of choice. Find step-by-step directions here.

2. Make gift tags or cards

If you’ve got old books filled with illustrations, the possibilities are endless! But an easy craft is to take pages–text or illustrated–to make little tags or cards with. Cut the shape you want from the page and some card stock, paste them together and write the appropriate message on the other side. If you want to make greeting cards, take some cardstock and collage elements from illustrations that you enjoy. Afraid to make a mistake after cutting up an image? Make a scan of the page you’re using first, so you can print out extra copies.

3. Make some jewelry

Passages from a favorite book can be upcycled into beautiful, bookish jewelry. Take, for example, this necklace over at Mandipity (step-by-step directions included in that link). You can even make beads from pages of a beloved book to string into a bracelet.

4. Decorative mini storage

Oftentimes, books unused may serve their purpose as decorative objects. If you have any hefty tomes lying around, consider hollowing out the inside to make it like a box. Put away little treasures or use it as a piggy bank; no one will suspect to look inside a dusty old book, so you can keep your stuff hiding in plain sight.

5. Print photos over pages

Do you fancy yourself a photographer? Try printing a black and white photo over a page of text to add a new layer to a unique work of art. Of course, you may simply illustrate over pages as well if you have drawing skills.

6. Make a bouquet

Toss out your plastic houseplant–if you want fauna you won’t have to take care of, consider a unique bouquet made from the pages of an old book. Origami fans will have a lot of fun with this project, and with a little bit of time and some careful folding you’ll have a centerpiece that will wow your guests. Find out how here.

7. Plant some succulents

Speaking of plants, you can hollow out an old book to make a planter for succulents. You can use books of nearly any dimension (just be sure it’s rather thick) for this green, intellectual table decoration. And because succulents are low maintenance, you’ll barely need to touch them afterward. See how to make a planet here.

8. Make a purse or clutch

This one will take a little more time and dedication, but is definitely worth the trouble for an awesome vintage, DIY purse. Take an old hardcover book and stip away the pages to make your personal, librarian-chic fashion accessory. Learn how to do it here!

9. Turn your book into a shelf

Mount a book onto your wall to turn it into a shelf. When you stack more books on top, it will give the impression that your books are floating in mid-air, or set atop an invisible shelf. You can buy shelves like these, but why do that when you can make your own? All you need is a couple L-brackets, and you’re good to go!

10. Make a picture frame

Hardcover books can make for great standing picture frames to place on a table or shelf. This is a simple craft that involves only cutting and pasting; but the effect is priceless when you pair a photo with the front cover of a book that bears a pertinent title.