Book arts class for repurposing vintage book covers

Handmade book with vintage book covers
This bookmaking class was a long time coming.

For years now, my husband and I have been collecting quirky vintage books, both to display in our home and with the inkling that they would spur creative repurposing in my bookbinding. But for the most part, I was doing more collecting than repurposing, whether it was radio operator manuals, Gregg shorthand books, 95 Russian Authors, or A Treasury of Cat Stories, to name a few.

In February, I found out I wasn't alone in my affinity for old books when I hosted a sold out class through The Skillery to teach the Coptic binding, using salvaged books to serve as the front and back covers.

I brought a couple dozen books from my own collection, which has grown slowly, usually just one book at a time, by shopping at antique stores and estate sales, and at one of my favorite stores ever: Book Thing of Baltimore, where all of the books are free! Really, they are. But there is a rule at Book Thing: each visitor is only allowed to take out 150,000 books per day. If you still don't believe that they're free, you're not alone: the Book Thing FAQ suggets many are skeptical.

I also encouraged my students to bring their own books. Many did. Among my favorites were a variety of colorfully illustrated children's stories and a little book about the Tennessee Capitol building.

We met at Dandelion Salon, where I have hosted classes before. I taught the students how to carefully remove pages and spines and then walked them through a complete Coptic binding lesson. The journals we created have new blank pages on the inside, between two vintage covers.

While we stayed busy, local photographer Kate Cauthen also stopped by to capture the class in action to bring attention to The Skillery, which I've written about often. The Skillery helps coordinate classes throughout Nashville. Kate was kind enough to share her photos.
book arts classbook arts teacher class Nashville
Leading up to the class, and since then, I've continued to work with my vintage book collection, completing a few projects that will soon be shown at the Porter Flea art show.

I think we're still taking on more books than I'm upcycling into new blank journals. But having a few more books around has never seemed like much of a problem to me.

rescued library books
Photos by Kate Cauthen.