Thursday, August 31, 2017

The book artist's version of a scrap quilt

I sometimes wad up a piece of scrap paper and toss it out the door of my studio so the cats will scamper after it (and then I shut the door). I don't think that's a legitimate form of reuse, though.

I really could put more stuff in the recycling bin. It's not that I throw too much away, it's that I hold onto small items and scraps because I'm too certain they can be repurposed in some way. And it's often true, as long as I'm able to make the time to use them.

Take paper scraps and trimmings, for example.

When I make a journal using a vintage book for the cover, I'm repurposing the book cover (yay), and using recycled paper with a high post-consumer content for the pages (yay again). But to fit the pages to the cover (which is kind of backwards, a book conservationist recently pointed out), I end up trimming away strips of my perfectly lovely paper, which is a bit thicker/heavier than most journal and notebook paper at 70lb (most notebook paper is 50lb).

Some recently constructed journals and their remnants

And I hate to just toss those trimmings, which are often 2.5–3" wide, into the recycling when I could reuse them to make mini journals and notebooks.

A couple of mini journals made from scraps -- and the covers are from Yorkshire tea boxes

In addition, like any paper crafter, I have accumulated a lot of paper of various weights and patterns, often purchased from scrapbooking shops (scrapbooking per se doesn't really appeal to me, but I really like a lot of the papers and other materials involved). I have used the decorative scrapbooking paper to make sleeves for my calendar cards (2018 will be available late October). Those paper sleeves are sealed and reinforced with packing tape.

My 2015 Useful Calendar was the last one that was trading card size

A couple of years ago, I changed the size of my calendar cards from trading card size (2.5" x 3.5") to 1/8 of a standard letter size page (2.75" x 4.25"). That change ended wasteful trimming (the scraps were too small to use for anything else), while also saving me a little time in production and giving me a little more space for content. Score two for zero waste. Or would that be three?

But that left me with a lot of sturdy little tape-laminated paper pockets that I had made already and could no longer use for my calendars.

Leftover calendar card sleeves

So I'm making little notebooks to fit into the pockets. And to satisfy my urge to make something artful and unique, rather than the same thing again and again, each mini notebook is ornamented with beads and charms on the spine (which also makes for a convenient handle for pulling them out of the sleeve), and their covers are collaged with assorted scraps that I just couldn't quite toss into the recycling yet because they're too pretty or interesting. Sometimes that includes bits of those book pages, as well as trimmings from the decorative papers used to make the sleeves.

Two mini notebooks with their coordinating sleeves

I've also repurposed whole text blocks that I removed from old books in order to use the covers, glued the edges together and cut them into simple shapes, which I then collaged with more scraps to make little stand-alone art objects of solid paper.

Stacks of book innards, and a few paper block collages made from them.

Yeah, it's kind of an obsession. But in my defense, I do end up tossing some of my paper scraps into the recycling. I put most of them into a large paper bag and staple it shut, because by the time I'm really done with the scraps, what's left is pretty small and needs to be bagged like shredded paper so it doesn't gum up the recycling machines. But by that time, I feel pretty satisfied that I've gotten a decent amount of reuse from those old books and other scraps of paper.

More mini notebooks with their sleeves

Come see my scrap paper notebooks, vintage book journals, and paper block art pieces during the LoLa art crawl, Sept. 16–17, at site 62, Bob Schmitt's Laughing Waters Studio, on Minnehaha Parkway.

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