Forgotten histories & decorative designs

Yesterday I purchased a selection of (okay far too many) books with the intention of turning some into clocks.  I’d used the Folio Society Shakespeare before to make a clock like this..

Measure For Measure Book Clock

..so it seemed a good idea to bid on a large lot of books to make some more.  I’ve spent the day sorting out what I can create things from. Most of the books are on the way to the charity shop or will be on the bookshelves at Hopkinson (prices from 50p) soon so I can get back some of my shockingly overpriced investment (since I got bid up).  Back to those folio Shakespeare’s…

Folio Shakespeare

There are 37 Shakespeare books which I suspect is complete and I’m one of the few people who enjoyed Shakespeare at school (Macbeth hooked me) so they keep asking me if they can stay on my shelves.  My sensible business head points out the fact I need to make clocks.  My literature/theatre loving head says give them a home and preserve them!  They do have very pretty covers before you even look at the wondrous variety of illustrators in the different volumes (including Dali).

Shakespeare Folio Society detail

Some of the books were crumbling as often seems to happen with the leather spines.  As one opened when I lifted it what at first appeared to be a piece of silver paper slipped in between pages came into view.

Waverly novels photo silvered

The print from the book pages was transferred to parts of the paper and when tipped a certain way in the light I was sure I could make out the profile of a face (looking towards my fingers in this shot).  In the next volume I found what appears to be the same photographic image which had not deteriorated and a number of other photos, many also fading in intriguing ways.

Inside Waverly novels, flower photo Pressed leaves inside Waverly Novels Portrait photo inside Waverly novels Inside Waverly novels torn photos Inside Waverly novels face overlaid with print

Also in the box were some beautifully decorated covers, sadly detaching themselves from the books.

Everyman cover design Green leather, gilt decoration Decorated cover design Swirled leather Leather relief patterned book cover

Also in there was a bible published in 1806.  Amazing to think this was created over two centuries ago.  I wonder whose family it is from?  I know my mum talks of our family bible left when her grandmother died and my grandparents had had to travel several counties to clear the house by bus so could carry very few possessions away with them only practical things the family needed.  I wonder if that still survives somewhere today.

Bible marbled endpaper Family names in bible Family register in Bible 1806 Bible Bible illustration

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Decoupage bookcase

I’ve been trying to track down a slim tall bookcase to use at my concession in Hopkinson for a while now.  Finally I was able to buy one from ebay but it was a bit shabby (of the scruffy rather than chic variety).  A tin of varnish in a dark wood tone seemed a good idea to get it to blend with the furniture already there – until it turned a rather vibrant shade of orange/red on application!  So decoupage was the answer.

I’ve been wanting to try it for a while on a stool or table so why not go for a whole bookcase.  After the first day I remembered why I stopped decoupaging small gift items.  What a time consuming job it is.  Still this was for display and so I decided to abandon the back and not worry so much about getting perfect edges.

I’m quite pleased with the result.  So much for the complex glues and varnish I usually use.  This is good old fashioned PVA with a coat of clear varnish.  Six Shakespeare plays gave themselves to the project and considering they were in mouldy bindings I feel like I’ve liberated them.  Happily it looks perfect in place holding some of my crafts and the unused books I have for sale.