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A single paperback novel can give you a number of blank canvases.  I love it but I find that once I have started to tear a book apart for a project, I am left with more paper than I know what to do with.

So I use them to play with ideas and techniques.  As Carolyn Dube says – it’s not precious so why not use it for play.  That’s exactly how I feel about this particular romance novel I’ve been tearing apart for some time now.

I’ve started a few ideas in the past but since I didn’t exactly have a final project in mind, they just sat.


I took some pages and found a single word on each.  Since it is a romance novel most of the words are like ‘love’ and ‘heart’.  Nothing too spectacular.  I painted all the writing with gesso and then let them sit.  Because I just didn’t know what to do with them.

I got out a bunch of stencils.  Ironically, they are hearts (since we just finished Valentine’s Day).  I picked them because they are simple round shapes that actually look like something more than a shape.  So I can pretend I had a project in mind.


The word here is ‘heart’ so I thought a row of hearts would be fun.  It was great.  I just got so into things I forgot to take pictures.  I continued with another page using a different heart stencil.  I painted them with watercolors.  Since I was playing with the watercolors, I traced a rose on a page and painted that, just to see what it would look like without the gesso.

Then I took all those page and put them together in a collage.  I did tear the edges – not sure I loved that.  But I like the finished product (sorry there aren’t more pics).


I did fill in those missing edges on the right with a marker.  I couldn’t just leave it alone.

Since I liked the watercolor, I thought I’d try something else – sewing.  I used a thicker needle and embroidery thread.  I went back to my heart stencils because they seemed like an easy shape for sewing.


I marked the places I wanted the thread to go through and then pre-punched them with a thread-less needle.  I did start this on the front side of the paper and realized that I didn’t want my marks to show so make sure to mark on the back of your project.


Starting in the center, I pulled the thread through and then taped the tail (instead of tying a knot).


Stitch as you would, using the holes to pull the needle through.  You may notice the holes at the bottom of the paper.  I realized that I had no idea how the needle and thread would behave so I tested it before committing to my actual sewing project.


Finish with more tape – keeps the back smooth so I can attach this to a card base or whatever.


How would it look if I did the sewing on a page I had processed for something?  I made sure to make a note on the back of the page where my saved word was and then repeated the steps as I did with the other page.


I will say that the painted paper was easier to work with.  Paperback book paper is really thin and crinkly like newsprint.  The gesso gave the paper some body which made it much easier to pull the needle and thread through.

I will say that be careful when sewing with embroidery thread.  I had no idea what to expect so I used a very long piece of thread.  It wanted to tangle and make knots.  Unlike fabric, this paper was not going to forgive an error like that.  I found if I stitched slowly and kept a finger in my stitch, the thread didn’t tangle.

So that was a fun couple of experiments that I look forward to using on something in the future.  Hope this inspires you to try some fun techniques as well.  These do not have to be on book pages only, any paper will work.  It all just depends on what you want for your finished project.