Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why make vintage books into a purse? - by Linda Sienkiewicz



When I was a girl, a trip to the public library with my mother was a treat. I was taught not to write in the books or tear the pages. The smell of musty, yellow-paged books still fills me with fondness and nostalgia. I’m also a writer who has great reverence for the written word. So, why, someone once asked me, would I want to “destroy” an old book to make a purse? Aren’t I destroying something of value?

There is a misconception that rarity is always worth money, or that anything antique is rare, and therefore valuable. In the world of collectibles and antiques, value is determined by the item’s condition. Vintage books that have monetary value are usually first editions in pristine condition. It serves no purpose to recycle such a book into a purse because its value as a book would exceed its value as a purse or other object.
But the books that are falling apart, books where the fabric on the spine is worn through or the corners are bashed, where the pages are too brittle to turn or they have markings from previous readers, or the library books with pockets glued inside and numbers on the spine— these are the books worth upcycling.
It may surprise you to know that most books were not published with the intention of making a lasting product; otherwise, publishers wouldn’t have used cheap acidic board made from wood pulp for the covers because it actually causes the fabric cover to deteriorate. The spines of antique books were often lined with pages from other books. The pages yellow and turn brittle from high acidity of the paper they were printed on.

I’ve found food stains, rings from coffee cups, and water damage on book covers, but the worst is library stickers. Cleaning books isn’t easy, as often the dye on the fabric comes right out with certain cleaning agents. Sometimes I resort to repainting a portion of a book to match, which is difficult, considering the color of a book is affected by grime and fading from the sun, and the spine is often several shades lighter than the front or back.

The vintage look (I like to call it a patina) is part of what makes the books unique—there is history, a story beyond the written story. What better way to honor these books than by turning them into something useful that, at the same time, shows off their beauty?
About the story, people ask me what I do with the pages. I rebind some books and add them to my own library. With others, I make greeting cards and book markers. Anything else goes into my recycle bin, where it is eventually recycled into something useful. There’s no shame in a brown paper bag.


A book purse is something that shows the owner’s love of literature or vintage goods—a highly original and unique accessory that can be enjoyed for many years. I’ve climbed many ladders at used book stores and rummaged through boxes at used book sales to find my treasures. I like to think I give new life to the forgotten relics that I’ve rescued.





This was written by Linda Sienkiewicz and published on her behalf. All photos shown are prober of the author and not to be copied or reproduced in any manner without her prior consent.


To see more of Linda's work or to contact her please visit:
RokkiHandbags - Linda's Shop on Etsy
Her Web Site
Her Blog

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