Do you live with someone who just can’t throw stuff out?  Or are YOU that person?  Sometimes loved ones have items that they inexplicably cling to – things that appear to be precious for no apparent reason, and that grow into piles of hoarded ‘stuff’.  As you’ve guessed from that comment, I’m not a hoarder.  In reality, neither is ‘the man’ – but he has insisted on keeping the 1989 Michelin Guide on our shelves, despite the fact that most of the places mentioned have either shut down or been replaced by motorways.

What better project for a cute little refurbishment?

I had always had a love of those stories where treasures were hidden in books, secreted in holes cut into the pages, so this spurred my ideas.  In fact, Anthropologie are charging a few hundred dollars for something similar:

I wanted to created something more fun, arty and personal than useful.  (I’m still considering doing another book the Anthropology way – but that might be for next year).

secret hole cut into book vintage interior

I divided the book into two, keeping the majority of the pages to the back, and then I painted PVA glue throughout the edges of the pages to glue and bind them together.  This took quite a bit of time and patience.  I painted several layers until the back pages were almost lacquered like a box.

secret hole cut into book vintage interior

Then I used a scalpel to cut through the pages, until I had created a box within the book.  I kept going until I had an interesting page for the base of the cavity.  This is hard work.  I actually got a blister on my finger from doing this.

secret hole cut into book vintage interior beetle

Then I painted two little beetles and stuck them on pins inside the cavity.  A bit like Victorian specimen cabinets.  And a bit like beetles eating old books and wood.

And then I protected it all by gluing acetate onto the top (I just used an old overhead projector piece of acetate!)

secret hole cut into book vintage interior beetle

On the opposite page, I painted a large beetle onto a page, and then glued the pages together on top.  And I cut three holes until I revealed parts of this huge, painted insect.

insect hole cut into book vintage interior beetle

I know you’re wondering why I’m obsessed with beetles – but actually, it was a bit of a joke, for ‘the man’ to enjoy – as I had found a pile of sawdust as large as my fist on my desk – which we created from an antique altar table…. (remember?).  This kind of freaked me out.  I then found several HUGE beetles in the room and discovered to my horror that they were top of Australia’s most wanted list.  (totally freaked now)

beetle book art holes cut in books vintage recycled interiors

Aww – look at its leg!  Is this too creepy for you?  Well – I called Quarantine and they were over in a flash and wrapped the whole desk in clingfilm (yup – that’s how high-tech we are over here) and took the beetle away for analysis.  Apparently it was very exciting as the beetles were very lively (usually they only get dead ones).  Later they picked up the desk and stuck it in a freezer at -27C for two weeks, and then brought it back.

And it was all FREE!  Sometimes, I’m glad I pay taxes.  (not very often, admittedly, but I may as well be thankful on those rare occasions).

Anyway – hence the joke of the beetles.  And the actual Asian Longhorn beetle that was in our desk – is the one painted on the left.

beetle book art holes cut in books vintage  interiors

After all THAT – I did the cover.  I kept some of the title, and then added all kind of personal stuff like metro tickets from our trip to France, photos, labels from great French wine we’d drunk and so on.  I photocopied these so I didn’t have to spoil the originals.

beetle book holes cut in books vintage recycled interiors

All this resulted in a very personal and unique ‘objet’ – with memories galore.

Michelin france book art

Was ‘the man’ thrilled at this wonderful creation from his treasured book?  Well – after a few whiskies he was reconciled to the idea….

secret hole cut into book vintage interior