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Altered Books: Book Boxes

Lesson 3 of 9

Gutting the Books

Molly Meng

Altered Books: Book Boxes

Molly Meng

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Lesson Info

3. Gutting the Books

Lesson Info

Gutting the Books

So the first thing we're going to do with our old book is something that every librarian tells you not to dio which is break the spine if you're using a newer book this is definitely important part what you're doing is you want to loosen the guts of the book so the guts of the book are made up of all of these different signatures which if you're in an old book they've loosened themselves quite easily already with age and time but if not you want to bend your book back and break the spine you're rolling it back and forth so basically what you're doing is you're trying to loosen the signatures which air each one of these sewn pieces of the book each one of those is called a signature you're loosening the signatures from the actual book itself so the end papers should get a little looser the signatures inside she could a little looser and the spine should essentially be away from the guts of the book you're gonna take your exacto knife and very, very carefully follow down the edge of the ...

endpaper which is this follow down the edge of the book making sure that you don't cut into the spine of the book especially again with old books this can happen really easily it's a it's a pretty weak fabric at this point and so you want to be very careful that you don't cut through the spine of your book you might even want to put your if you ever able to put your finger in between there to keep the guts of the book away from the cover and the spine of the book, and then you're going to take your blade along the side of the book and even careful of your fingers like I just touched mine because I don't want to cut the cover of the book and I don't want to cut into the spine, and when you're dealing with a really old book, all these things have been weakened, so a sharp blade khun, just slice through them quickly, so really taking your time with this being very careful about coming down the edge of the book, lightly bringing your blade between the book and the cover listen that out, so I've got one side of the guts out, and now you want to do the other side as well. Sometimes especially if you're using a very aged book, you can just rip it right out. But knowing that all of this was made with a lot of intense that he sieve at one point, when you see the inside of the book like that know that whoever made this book I was determined to keep this entire thing together. So if you do choose to rip it, you may very well ripped the cover as well. So I tend to always use the blade, so I can kind of control where that's going, and you're going to do the same thing down the other side very, very carefully, splitting the book away from its cover on and on. It's. If you do end up for any reason cutting some part of the cover, you could just take a masking tape or any other kind of repair tape and put that in there. And as we go further into the books, I'll show you you can even end up putting a ribbon or, as we did in the case of another book, a ruler, something in there that gives a little more depth and strength. So you've now got the guts of your book. Hang on to the guts of your book will probably use some of those pages from there, and you've got your blank cover. This is what we're going to build our box into.

Class Description

Book boxes are a classic way to store small treasures, and making boxes is great way to upcycle old books. In Altered Books: Book Boxes with Molly Meng, you’ll learn how to collect, convert, and add, you’ll learn how to collect, convert, and add new functions to hardbound tomes. 

Molly is an artist, teacher, and storyteller. She owns and designs cards for the hand-crafted greeting card company 8mm Ideas. In this class she’ll share her expertise in repurposing antiquated books. 

You’ll learn how to: 

  • Select the perfect book to convert  
  • Gut the book, break the spine, and create a simple box frame  
  • Use collage to create color and story  
  • Create both simple and more complex book boxes  

You’ll also learn about the tools that will make the job easier and Molly will share future project ideas for the paper you remove.  

Book boxes are infused with an air of mystery – learn how to make your own magical repository in Altered Books: Book Boxes with Molly Meng. 



I learned so many things by watching this class that I always wanted to know. Molly gives great detailed instructions and fascinating suggestions for what you can do with these boxes. I got the sense that she is incredibly excited about doing this and it makes me want to do it to. It sparked a lot of ideas for me even though I doubt I will do exactly what she demonstrates.

Elizabeth Haen

This is such a fun project, can't wait to try it all out! I love Molly's calm and professional manner and upbeat approach to teaching as well.

Mia Reeves

I love the clear step by step directions. I also love the fact that she uses pretty basic tools and materials. The possibilities for creating some very unique book boxes all start here!