An "upcycle" for old books?

Brooke Voris.Yesterday I headed down to the Printers Row Lit Fest, a long-running Chicago institution which grew out of a book fair in the old printing district south of the Loop into a full-fledged multi-media behemoth with speakers, workshops, classes, concerts, readings, and cable broadcasts. It’s always somewhat bittersweet for me, as it’s something that I used to exhibit at when I had my publishing company back in the day, so there’s always a bit of hankering to be manning a table there when I’m wandering around amongst them.

Obviously, the focus of Lit Fest is on books, but I tossed my FlipCam in my bag, just in case I ran into any “green” stories to bring you. This worked out well, as I found one. OK, what I found wasn’t exactly a green story, but it did involve re-purposing what might have otherwise been trash, and did involve plants. Oddly enough, this was also only “accidentally” about books

Book planter.

As I was walking down the Polk St. extension of the fair, I saw a table featuring these rather cool-looking “book planters” – books that had been hollowed out (like the classic “book safe”), lined, and planted with succulents. Now, not every booth at Lit Fest is book-related, and this was an interior design practice (from the Printers Row neighborhood), Brooke Voris Design, promoting their services to the teeming masses. I don’t think I’d ever encountered this particular type of mash-up previously, and, in the context of the book fair, it was fascinating … so I went over and got an interview with Ms. Voris:

As she notes, these were simply things that they’d put out to draw attention (hey, it worked!), although they were offering to sell the ones they had (so there’s no link for a place to order them). When I asked, she’d said that info about making these was on her site somewhere, but poking around there I was unable to find any … however, I went agoogling and found this page which has detailed step-by-step instructions for making ones that are pretty much identical to what Ms. Voris had on display!

I must admit, however, that I am somewhat torn on publicizing this particular craft project, as I’m one of those “you’ll have to pull ’em out of my cold dead hands” book collectors, and the prospect of eviscerating one, especially a funky old hardback with lots of character, is no more appealing to me than the suggestion of turning one of our cats into a planter would be!

(sigh) Perhaps I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 too many times. But, please be selective about what you gut for your planter … don’t do this to anything with historical or culture value … maybe get a hardcover copy of Snookie’s A Shore Thing for 1¢ through Amazon’s new/used guys and hack that up – something that future generations would just as well forget ever existed!

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