Well, the runes told me I should come up from the depths of my usual contemplations and get some air. This is part of the reason why I’ve been a little inactive on the Internet for the past few days – it’s sometimes difficult for me to not be inspired toward new lines of thought while reading what everyone else in the world has to say! The other reason is, with the time freed up by not surfing from one site to the next, I thought I’d try my hand at a crafting project I’ve had in mind for a while: namely, turning an old book into a safe ….The idea is one I got while reading in the Sustainable Daisy blog, where Karen posted a wonderful way to use an old book: to cut out a chunk of its middle, and turn it into a safe (or secret stash, or whatever you might want to call it). Deliberately damaging a book is something I don’t like to do; but I compromised on this by using a book I picked up in a flea market (where I get a lot of my crafting and project supplies). I needed a hardback book, and it needed to be a book that cost little, and stood little chance of getting a second read from me. As it turned out, I had one – I just needed to finish reading enough to know I had little interest in it (it’s a sort of historical fiction about the Roman orator, Cicero … I like history, and I even like Cicero, but I usually like to read history and fill in the possible fictitious blanks myself). So, Imperium (appropriate title, no?), by Robert Harris, is now safeguarding a priceless treasure!
First, the book, as it appeared at the start:
Now the fun begins! The very first thing I did was to measure the dimensions for the recess I was about to carve out of the book. In retrospect, this turned out to be a mistake: my plan was to cut out what I wanted, then build a box out of fabric-lined cardboard to place within the recess. In the end, I improvised and did something different … if I were going to try this project again, and try the box idea, I would first make the box and measure the dimensions of the ‘safe’ accordingly. To do the cutting, I deviated from Karen’s instructions, and used a sort of cutting wheel (I’m not entirely certain what it’s really called … it resembles a pizza wheel in form and function). The reason for this is simple: the thing (whatever it’s called) cuts through up to 40 pages at once, thanks to the sharp blade and larger handle that allows the user to really bear down on it with some weight. It does the cutting without tearing or ripping, too. I saw it in the hardware store and knew I would have use for it … I just didn’t pay much attention to what it was called. Here is a picture of it:
The recess is roughly 200 pages deep, and my result was pretty rough (okay, it was actually quite sloppy), but this is not a problem, as we will see in a little bit. Next, I took a piece of leftover cardboard from a box of Ikea oatmeal-chocolate cookies (I don’t go there for the furniture … I can’t handle the feeling of being herded through a maze, I just go for the good stuff and get out with enough time left in the day to enjoy it) … anyway, I wrapped this piece of cardboard in a piece of scrap fabric, and glued it to the page at the bottom of the safe’s recess. For a little more stability, I glued that page to the page beneath it:
Now came my first stumbling block in this project – the sides of the recess. I had planned to use more fabric-lined cardboard pieces, to build a custom box within the recess; but I discovered that this approach wouldn’t work so well because, since I didn’t glue all the pages together, the opening and closing of the book would constantly shift the cardboard sides around. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of all invention; and I needed to think my way out of the quandary I had just gotten done thinking my way into. The solution, as I’m very fond of thinking, is always connected to the problem … finding the solution, then, is a matter of getting to know the problem better. As it turned out, I needed to take the two pages above the recess and cut them, one vertically …
… and then the other page horizontally …
… and then a bit of origami: I pulled the flaps of the horizontally-cut (top) page down through the vertically-cut page …
… and then I pulled all four flaps down through the recess, and glued them to the page directly facing the ‘bottom’ of the safe:
After the glue dried, I glued this page to the bottom page that it was facing. To add a little more stability, I glued the ‘bottom’ page to the page beneath it. What this resulted in was a ‘wall’ in the recess that was lined with the flaps cut from the top pages of the safe … this is what it looked like, shortly before I neatened the walls:
It’s not the prettiest solution; but the result is a booksafe where I didn’t have to glue all of the pages together. You will notice in the picture below, I went a step further with the opening of the safe, and cut out a section from the page above the flaps pages, and glued that page to the nearest flaps page, giving a little more uniformity and general neatness. From the outside, when the book is closed, everything looks as it should. Since the outsides of the pages weren’t glued, I still have the option to try another modification to this project: using magnets fixed between the pages to keep the book from opening on its own (this is a modification I will try when I find the right magnets at the flea market). Now one might wonder what treasure to hide in such a safe. Well, a thief entering my home, with enough time to peruse my library, would eventually find anything I put in the booksafe; so why not leave a treasure for the thief? And what greater treasure is there than a piece of appropriate wisdom?
“Cheaters never prosper :-)”
I wish to extend my gratitude again to Karen for inspiring me to undertake this project. I had a great deal of fun with it … it was definitely a good way to spend some time. I think Karen’s booksafe turned out much nicer than mine; but as I said, from the outside, the booksafe looks just like it did before I began modifying it … and in this case, we are hoping for the book to get judged by its cover! Regarding the last question posed in Karen’s original post, I chose to take the page cut-outs from my project to the nearest Kindergarten … the teachers there are always happy to get crafting materials donated, and the two hundred cutouts I took to them will undoubtedly come in handy for their next paper mache project.