I am so excited about today’s project, because for the first time in a while, it’s not a light! Don’t get me wrong, I love my lights, and the first idea that always pops into my head with a new material is “could that be a light?” But sometimes, it is refreshing to do something different, and it can spark your imagination in new and unforeseen ways.
As you may know, I make lights out of old books. Old books that I cut up. Specifically I cut circles out of them, to make my Artichoke Mixed Book Page Light. (Which I first explored in this 30x30x3 post before discovering the key was full circles, not just simple scallop shaped pieces.) Many, many circles…
I love finding a new use for a forgotten about item (often I collect unwanted books from friends or used book sales), but once I cut the circles out there is still a chunk of book left. I always carefully save the left over pieces and recycle them with my newspaper and cardboard, but sometimes I’ve wished I could do more, that I could find some other cooler use for the left over part of the pages. And then, a couple of weeks ago, I had a stack of the pages sitting there and suddenly a lightbulb went off. Wait a second, I essentially have a rectangle with two circular holes in it. What can you do with holes like that? Use them to hold things!!
Of course I immediately began racking my brain as to what would be the right shape and size. An existing metal pencil cup I had didn’t fit, and neither did a piece of cardboard tube I’d been holding on to. And then I remembered these two small cardboard tubes that I had from a fancy invitation I got in the mail. They were so cute that I had been keeping them hoping that one day I’d find a good use for them, and what do you know I found one! They were the perfect fit, especially because they were just slightly smaller than the actual holes which made it easier to get through the stack of books, and it allowed for the small variation in exactly hole location in each page.
Overall, I think the key to this project was ‘less is more’ at least in terms of production methods. Basically, I cut out a piece of scrap cardboard that was just a little bit smaller than my book pages. Then I glued one book page down on top, to serve as a template for where to glue down my cans. The bottom of the cans had a little bit of an edge, so I also cut out a piece of cardboard to fill-in that bottom part, and give me an even and level surface for gluing the cans down to the base. After gluing the cans in place, I basically just started adding book pages, dropping them down from above, with the one hole going around each can. I didn’t use any glue because you really don’t need it, and it can start making the pages wrinkle or scrunch up in funny ways.
I also noticed with this first attempt that the spine-edge of the pages still had some of the rubber glue on it, so it looked different. I probably could have just kept a nice mix of orientations so each side of the pencil cup had some spine edges and some clean edges, but I decided instead to keep all of the pages sitting in the same direction. However, because of the glue residue the spine edge side of my pencil cups stuck up a bit higher than the other side. But I discovered that if I pushed it down to be level with the clean edge side of the pages, and then smeared hot glue on the spine edges, they stuck together in this more compressed manner and you could make the top of your structure level again. I think for my next version though I might try quickly trimming off the glue residue so that both sides lie equally flat. And that way you’d have a double sided finished product instead of something that has a ‘good’ side and a ‘not-so-good’ side.
I also learned that my cardboard tubes were a bit tall for holding pencils and pens, so I cut out a bunch of cardboard circles to drop down into the bottom of the cans, to raise everything up. I measured the height of an existing pencil cup I am using but I still think it might be too tall, especially for those short colorful pens! Maybe I can use this for special items, taller special items like the unsharpened pencils and scissors.
Another thing I love about this project is how it can get the wheels spinning in my head. I already have ideas for how I can take this and build on it! For once I’m cutting circles out of books thinking as much about the left over pieces as I am about the actual circles! Its fun to see a supply like this in such a different and unique way, and it makes me feel like I’m doubly recycling these books! So stay tuned, one of these days I just might have a project update based on this very pencil holder. I guess it depends on how many circles I’m going to be cutting out in the future, and if I have enough time when I’m not supposed to be making lights that I can try some new projects.
Have a lovely week everyone, ciao! Allison