Friday, March 18, 2011

Palpitations

By Heather Webber/ Heather Blake

The other day my teenage daughter came home from school with a reminder note written on her hand (she gets this from her dad--he does the same thing).

It said, "Hardcover book."

I asked her why she had "hardcover book" written on her hand, and she explained that she needed to bring one to art class.

Me: Why?
Her: To rip up.
Me: (Gasp!) Why?
Her: To make a sculpture.

Once I got over the shock of a teacher wanting a kid to rip a book to shreds, I started thinking this could be a cool project. They need a hardcover book for both the words and pictures. My daughter is leaning towards bringing a children's book like Make Way for Ducklings or If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Definitely not one of the copies we own, which means a trip to the bookstore, and not a used bookstore, either. I figure if some poor author's book is going to be ripped up, she might as well get the full royalty for it.

Now, if I can only get my family to stop writing on their hands...

What book would you use? I'd probably lean more towards a gardening book or a baking cookbook.

29 comments:

CherylsPearls said...

I don't think I could rip up a book, really. Have you read Hilaire Belloc's "On the Gift of a Book to a Child?" The first part is:

Child! do not throw this book about;
Refrain from the unholy pleasure
Of cutting all the pictures out!
Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.


I used to quote that part to my daughter when she was little, especially after she used crayons in a couple of her books. lol I hate those "books" you get in gift shops that are made from glued open books with something else pasted in the open pages and then sprayed with a clear coat. Yuck. I always wonder what book was really sacrificed to make those ugly things. :(

Aurian said...

I would use a book I have already read so often that it is hanging loose in its cover, and by myself a new copy to reread.
But wilfully distroying a book, that is not something I would ever do.

Pete said...

I don't think I could rip up a book either. I nearly had a heart attack while in WalMart one day. An associate was in the book aisle stocking new books and then she ripped the cover off of the books she was removing. I was in horror. I nearly tackled her to keep her from ripping one of my fav authors. Jenny Crusie later explained WHY they do that, but it still seems like an enormous waste, not to mention heart-breaking.

Pete said...

sorry, this and the above comment is from Renee, I forgot to sign out of my husband's google - LOL

Booklady said...

I know you wold like to give the author the royalties, but why not get a book from the library discard room? It would be a great way to recycle a book that is no longer in reading shape. If it's for a school project, the library might be willing to give you the discard.

As for which one would I use? It depends on what I wanted the sculpture to be. If you will get to see the pictures from the book, then Make Way For Ducklings, or any Caldecott winner would be a good choice. On another blog, I saw a picture of a dress made from the illustrations and bindings of Little Golden Books. It was amazing. Since I'm an elementary librarian, all my friends think I should by it and wear it to school.

Tonya Kappes said...

I had to pick one of my kids up after school and he is the one who loves to ride the bus. I told him to remember and he said, "what if I forget." I said, "you won't." When I picked him up, he had CAR RIDER written on his hand...to funny. I'd definitely use a cook book.

NoraA said...

Somewhere in my partner's office we still have Dr. Seuss books from when I was a child. I would probably look through our library and see if any of the older children's books are so badly damaged that they could be used for a project of that sort.

If not, I'd ask either one of my girls (2 are elementary school teachers) or a sister in law, if they have anything they would give up for an art project.

kissablesweet1 said...

I'm with the others. I couldn't bring myself to intentionally rip a book. I just couldn't. They are to valuable and precious to be destroyed even for art's sake.

Dru said...

I would use a book that is on its last binding.

Barbara said...

Eek! I can't even write in the margins of a book. Come to think of it though, I could part with one of the books my dog chewed on.

Carol B said...

I couldn't tear up a book either. In fact, I just recently guiltily put a book on one of my "give to library sale" shelves. It really should have gone into the trash can or recycling bin, but I just didn't have the heart to do it; I'll let the Friends of the Library be the bad guys! I bought it used somewhere several years ago; before that, it had been a library book, and since it was a paperback from the 90's, you can probably imagine how little life it still has in it.

Prairiedog said...

I love old books with illustrated covers, so buy them when I see them at garage sales, auctions. But I do find when I buy boxes of books, there are sometimes old ones that have surely given up their usefulness. It's hard for me to throw or give away a book, but I'm sure in one of those boxes in the garage there's on that could be recycled into an art project. Have you seen old Reader's Digest books made into purses, or a hole cut in them to display a dish of candy? I have. Karen

ev said...

A hated text book otherwise I just couldn't do it. Everytime I see these "designers" drilling holes in books for a lamp or ripping the pages out for some decorative project I want to find a big book and hurl it at them.

But the idea of going to the library and seeing if they have badly damaged ones that will get thrown out is a great idea. Maybe suggest it to the teacher and let them get them so someone who loves books doesn't have to make the decision about what to do?

Aryn said...

I like the idea of going to the library for a discarded book. I know it will be hard to rip up a book, but the final sculpure will be very neat.

Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, righ?

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I've only desecrated one book in my life, and that was my college yearbook. There were some perfect pictures in there for the posters I was making at the time, and I didn't care two cents' worth about the dusty old book itself.

signlady217 said...

Yeah, I find it hard to destroy a book for any reason. But I have done it. Yes, I'm one of "those" art teachers who've had their students do altered book projects. We used 4-6 page children's board books. And I got them used. I deliberately looked for ones that were already messed up, though.

However, I still can't bring myself to write in a book! :)

Sharon said...

Yipes. I couldn't do this. Maybe... maybe... with a book that was already damaged (e.g. from water) to the point that it truly needs to be thrown away anyway. I dunno... I think I'd end up contacting the teacher and asking for my kid to do an alternate project. What is the point of a sculpture made from a book? Why not make a sculpture from other materials?

lynneandco said...

I could not bear to rip up a book, new or used! However, I could if the book were literally falling apart. In fact I have several that were unearthed at a thrift store's "free" pile. The covers were gone or almost gone, some pages were missing, etc. In other words, unusable. But in my mind that just means I have to find another use for them! So I use them in my crafting/card making and feel better that those pages of wonderful words are getting a second chance at life!

Prairiedog said...

Was just looking thru some old Country Living mags, hate to throw them too, and there in a 2008 issue was a sculpture made from a book. They cut each page with an x-acto into a curved shape, rolled it around the spine, and had a sculpture that looked like a vase. So funny to see that when we are talking about it. Karen

Heather Webber said...

I'm curious about when it comes time to do the actual ripping how my daughter will do. She loves books as much as I do.

I can't imagine willingly tearing a book into pieces, though I do dog-ear. I know, bad.

Anonymous said...

I like what 'Aurian' said! And further, I sometimes end up with 2 copies of books I really like - I'd use the one that was most beat up probably! And I do like books you put cut-outs from other things we really like - especially from magazines - in to remember! Ever since I had cancer/chemo - my memory isn't what it was, and I cherish things that let me look back at things I loved! Including books I written about loved ones who have passed on!

Vickie said...

I'm not sure I could rip a book to pieces even for art. I can tear the heck out of the newspapers and magazines, but not books. Unless I just haven't come across that particular book that is rippable....

Katreader said...

I. too, find it difficult to tear apart a book. I don't even dog ear the pages in mine, let alone write in them. However, I have made a few altered books. I generally use picture books from the dollar store-or books from library sales-generally outdated textbooks or things I find hard to enjoy.

Nancy said...

Public libraries discard books all the time. My daughter volunteers at a school library and one of the first things they had her do was purge the collection for discards. She was allowed to take whatever books she wanted, although she didn't take many as her bookshelves are already overflowing. Anyway, the point I would like to make is that if you buy used books for the art project you know that the author did already get the royalties and the books you buy will save the books from complete disuse.
Another used book project is to take a book apart and practice bookbinding on it. That's what I did when I was in school.
I would definately not buy a new book to take it apart.

Sally said...

I have to disagree with almost everyone. I think it is a very creative and interesting art project, the key word being "art". I have given books away to thrift stores, had children read them to death, and even had teething puppies chew them up. I value my special books very much, and keep them safely on a book shelf. I read at least five books a month and if I kept them all the fire department would condemn my home. I don't feel that books are sacred, other than the Bible. The class will be recycling used and discarded books for "arts sake". It's not like her school is planning a mass burning of books for their homecoming bonfire. It would be fun to go to thrift stores or yard sales and pick books she loved as a child and make a memory collage, very similar to a memory quilt, of those books she loved through the years. She could even take some of your books and pay homage to her talented mom. I know this is going to be an unpopular post; but, I think the visuals arts are just as valuable as the written word.

Tiffany0227 said...

It would definitely be hard to rip up a book. But if I were going to I would use a an old book; one that was on it's last legs.

Pete- that is horrible. It would be a sin to rip them up for the heck of it. So many people could use those books.

It does sound pretty interesting project.

By George said...

I would have a hard time ripping one up.. I can't even get rid of one's I don't like at the used book store.

I write on my hand.. I might forget a piece of paper.. but rarely forget my hand.

Shushan said...

If I must, I'd go with something that is now so out of date as to be obsolete, like old tax code helpers from the 50's-90's or a book of travel advice from the same era.

Frankly, I find it rather icky that a teacher is demanding a hardcover book to destroy. What kind of lesson is that? :(

Lindy said...

For Pete's sake! Tell that teacher to take her agression out on a magazine! My house is testimony to my love for books, and NOBODY'S going to get one of my books to tear up.