Bookbinding: Making Covers from Thrift Store Artwork with a Cameo Appearance from Floyd the Cat.

When I retired from teaching this past June, I intended to spend a lot of time in my studio/garage binding books. I’ve managed to get in a decent session one or two days a week, but even when you’re not working life happens. Or, if I’m honest, binge watching happens. I have done a decent amount of work, certainly more than I would have if I were still teaching. And I still love doing it.

So, I thought I would post what I’ve done so far in retirement. These are all basic flat-back bindings, one of the simpler forms you can do. I did sew all of the pages together which takes some time, but it’s also something you can do while listening to podcasts. I’ve come to really value things I can do while listening to podcasts.

I had this idea that thrift story paintings could be cut up into decent book covers. So far I’ve found that they work pretty well. I’m still wondering how they will hold up to the wear and tear of journal usage. I’ve a friend who is currently using one as her journal and Paul is using one as a sketchbook. The paint will show wear over time, but so far, they look like they have developed a kind of patina that actually looks pretty cool if you ask me.

I’m going to move into so other types of binding since recently made a pile of marbled paper and a second pile of printed paper. I’ll try to post some samples of those once they are completed. When I get to 100 books, I’m going to take them to a sale somewhere. Maybe a spring craft fair. What do you think? $25.00? $35.00? I’m probably going to donate the money to charity or something like that since I could never sell them for enough to really make them “worth it”. Each one is two to four hours of work depending on how complicated the structure is. I’m not really in if for the money.

I see them as incomplete works of art. They won’t be finished until someone fills them up with something–words, sketches, scraps…

Here they are. Hope you enjoy them.

These four journals were all made from the same painting. I like how they look a bit abstract now that the original has been cut into four pieces.
The two were made from a small landscape. This painting was probably a cheap motel-art piece. Something you could buy for very little at the same shop that sold you your sofa. The books turned out quite good, in my opinion.
These three were all made from the same painting. The original featured an apple tree in a pot with a red border all around. I like the two on each end, but the one in the middle looks off-balance to me. It would have worked if the red bars were on the bottom and the left side of the cover.

From this set I learned that I should look for very thinly painted work. The folded edges are already breaking on these because the paint was so thickly applied in the original. Thickly applied paint is actually a sign of quality if you’re shopping for artwork to hang on your wall.
These two have covers I made from strips of torn paper. The one in front works best, I think, because one of the hedgehogs stares straight out at the viewer.

This also shows my cat, Floyd. I include him because all posts across all social media get more likes if they include a cat. This is a universal truth.

These two are probably the best of the thrift store painting covers so far. The original painting was an amateur still life featuring oranges and apples. It looked like the work of a very promising student and made for beautiful book covers.

One thought on “Bookbinding: Making Covers from Thrift Store Artwork with a Cameo Appearance from Floyd the Cat.

  1. I love mine. Thanks Joyce

    “Pay attention to the things that connect you with joy‼️


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