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Discarded Books Become Library Art

With Janice Cooper, Northern Valley Old Tappan Media Specialist

Northern Valley Old Tappan students created a ‘Book Wonderland’ in the fiction section of the Library Media Center. Katie Choi, Kirsten Murphy, Logan Ruscick, and Susie Knaack spent six weeks in May and June working on the wonderland as their ‘Senior Service’ project. Their primary raw materials were the library’s weeded books.

As a focal point, the students fashioned a beautiful blossoming seven-foot tree hung with miniature origami stars. Assisted by students in the AP Studio Art Drawing and 2D Design classes, they crafted colorful mobiles out of miniaturized books and origami-like book ornaments, all of which sway in the slightest of breezes. The BookWonderland truly enhances the good karma of the library, where students love to sit under the mobiles.

The idea for this project began when Janice Cooper, NVOT’s Media Specialist, showed Wendy Lewis, the NVOT Art Teacher, photos of books hung from a restaurant’s ceiling. The magic of Wendy Lewis as an art teacher is that she took that very basic concept and inspired her students to explore, create, and build this dynamic space. Janice had the weeded books from the previous school year on a designated shelf and was thrilled to be able to ‘upcycle’ them in such a beautiful way. Reflecting on the experience, Janice said , “Wendy is the best to collaborate with, always so enthusiastic” – ready to bring simple ideas into a dramatic reality.

When asked how the students felt about their work, Wendy shared, “I think they liked sitting together working on this, like a sewing bee…Once folded, they kept trying to fold them into more intricate forms; they liked adding color, string, etc. and turning them into mobiles.”

For tips on how to create your own compelling and cost-free book art, contact Janice for more information or check out some of the many pinterest boards dedicated to transforming old books.

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