Using Wallpaper for Book Covers
January 15, 2011
Pamphlet covers made from salvaged wallpaper sample books have captured my attention.
Up until recently I have not been a fan of using wallpaper sample books as part of anything that I do with bookmaking. The fact is that no matter what you do with wallpaper it still always looks like wallpaper, a quality which I found unappealing.
An elementary schoolt teacher named Kelly changed my point of view. This is an excerpt of a letter she sent, last year, to Kassandra, Kelly’s arts-in-ed liason.
“When Paula was here at our school last year, I asked her if she knew how to make books with wallpaper covers. I was interested in learning how to do this because I wanted the 5th graders to use what they learn about immigration to write a journal from the viewpoint of an immigrant coming to America in the late 1880’s – early 1990’s. I thought the wallpaper journals would be great for this project because you can make them look old-fashioned.
Paula figured out how to make them and then showed me. This year, I did this project students, and the journals came out great. The kids choose the paper they wanted for their covers from old wallpaper sample books. The kids have been very inspired by these to do some of the best writing I have ever seen from some of them.’
I was humbled by Kelly’s successful experience of making books using wallpaper samples. The students loved browsing through the samples and picking out the patterns for themselves. The books looked great, too: sturdy and varied. It seems that most wallpapers are made out of a material that does not tear easily, and is thick enough to hold its shape well.
Since using outdated wallpaper samples is form of recycyling, this is certainly a politically correct activity.
The variations are endless….
…and there always seem to be little bits of extra scraps around to place in unexpected places.
In two weeks I will get to work with several fifth grade classes, making books with wallpaper covers. Since I will be working with dozens of students in a limited time, the binding method will be different than the books pictures here (ie more friendly for elementary students). I will post pictures and directions when we’re finished.
In the meantime, if you have something against wallpaper as a book arts material, my suggestion is: get over it.
This one reminds me of the walls in my Grandmother’s bathroom.