Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on omaha.com
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Last year, when looking for a nice gift box for some handmade earrings, I decided to try my hand at creating something special out of children’s board books.
I used some books my kids had outgrown and gave them new life. You can also find board books fairly cheap at the bookstore bargain bins or thrift stores. Blank board books are also available at craft stores.
They’re sturdy and you can decorate them any number of ways to give them your personal touch. The most difficult part is using care, patience and a sharp knife when cutting the hole inside the book in which you place the gift. The rest is just using your creativity.
Plus, your gift recipient will have the bonus of a box to keep for years that can hold any number of small keepsakes.
» Children’s board books
» Sharp craft knife or utility knife
» Craft glue and other adhesives as desired
» Small clamp or heavy object
» Gesso or primer paint
» Acrylic paint
» Embellishments, such as ribbon, fabric, buttons, chipboard letters, etc.
» Velcro, ribbon or small clasps for closures.
» Optional: acid-free tissue paper, gloss or matte gel medium, inks
Factoring in the size of the item you will want to place inside the book, draw the rectangular cutout you want on the first inside page of the book. Before cutting, use a small clamp to hold all pages except the cover of the book together as you make the cuts.
Carefully and slowly use a craft knife to cut along the lines of your rectangle. Be patient; make shallower cuts and peel away the layers of cardboard one at a time rather than trying to push the blade further down for deeper cuts. Doing so makes the process less safe, and it will be harder to control the knife.
Once you’ve reached the desired depth of the cutout, use craft glue to glue the pages together (except for the front cover of the book). Clamp the glued pages together, or use a heavy object on top of the book (leaving the cover open) to keep the pages together until the glue dries.
Prep the book surfaces. Lightly sand all the coated surfaces, then apply gesso or primer to allow paint and other objects to adhere to the book surfaces. Let dry.
Now you can personalize the book. I first painted the books white to cover up the books’ original images. I then used a variety of embellishments, depending on the look I wanted. You can use pages from an old book (or photocopy them), and cut or tear them, ink the edges and adhere them to the book using craft glue, Mod Podge or gloss or matte gel medium. Acid-free tissue paper (I found some at Dick Blick) can alter the surface of the book and create a softer look for any images placed under it. Gloss medium can be added to paint to create a translucent look. Fabric can be twisted and rolled into roses and hot glued onto the cover; ribbons and chipboard letters can be covered with buttons and beads. The only limit is your imagination. Use Velcro, small metal or fabric clasps or ribbon as closures.
Difficulty: 3 out of 4
Check out more crafts from the series at omaha.com/handmade