Friday, November 21, 2014

DIY Christmas Decorations from Thrifted Books

Book decor has been on my mind a lot lately (remember this?). When book pages are re-purposed, their print becomes an interesting neutral texture. Versatile, subtle, and always in style. 

When I was asked to be part of the "Holiday Thrift Store Challenge," hosted by the wonderful Alice at Thoughts from Alice, I went to the thrift store with an open mind. The point was to find someone's "trash" and turn it into holiday "treasure." In spite of everything I saw, nothing spoke to me like the books. Thrift stores are always full of pages and pages of cheap paperback books. Paperback paper happens to be really easy to work with, a beautiful texture, and one book is more than plenty to cover several projects. Music sheets are golden material too.

Here are a few ways I incorporated thrifted books into my Christmas decor this year:

Shredded: I ripped pieces of it for some nativity hay (this little set was also found during my thrift store trip, and the star ornament was from an antique store). You could also put shredded paper in a vase of twigs, greenery, ornaments, etc., or line the streets of your Christmas village.

Folded: I creased it into fans and stars for hanging ornaments. For the fan, I just trimmed off the white edges of 2 book pages, folded them into fans, stapled the middles, and glued the 2 semi-circle fans together. See the star tutorial here.

Don't you think it compliments the dried oranges nicely?

Wrapped: Book pages are small, so only the tiniest presents can be fully wrapped in them. However, I was able to use 2 sheets of 8.5 x 11 music around one larger box. Paper embellishments are also an interesting addition to larger gifts or bags.

You could also wrap a mason jar full of candlelight or goodies.

Looped: Paper chains are a classic holiday decoration. I mixed the books with old scrapbook paper for a strand of texture and subtle color.

Snipped: Of course, I couldn't leave out snowflakes. Again, the print is a nice alternative to a classic white paper snowflake.

The list could go on and on...I hope I've sparked some ideas if you are looking for a fresh and easy way to change up (or add to) your holiday decorations.

Be sure to visit Thoughts from Alice, an absolutely beautiful blog. Below are several other talented bloggers who had amazing vision with their thrift store finds. I was totally inspired by them as well.

Glam Christmas Throw Pillows by Thoughts from Alice

A Deerly Beloved Thrift Store Vignette by Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Christmas Cloche by Craftberry Bush

A Vintage Mantel for Winter by Finding Silver Pennies

Thrifty DIY Part One: Faux Fur Throw Rug by Creating Vintage Charm

DIY Holiday Walling Hanging by House of Hipsters

Christmas Decor from Thrifty Find by Town and Country Living

The Trellis Tree by Cozy Little House

DIY Centerpiece Tray by Cherished Bliss

Rustic Christmas Tree by Delineate Your Dwelling

DIY Crocks by So Much Better With Age

Thanks for visiting!
Stay tuned for more holiday inspiration:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Abstract Art of Crop Circles

Last spring we were in the Portland airport, and we walked through a hallway displaying a row of subdued, organic, abstract art pieces that immediately caught my attention.

Their simple geometry in warm earth tones bridged the worlds of modern and folk, and I could picture any of them in a variety of settings (hipster coffee house, the ski lodge, a streamlined public facility...). 

For a moment, I struggled to pinpoint the medium. Were these paintings? Drawings? Patchwork quilts? Then I realized the amazing truth: these were photographs. Of crop circles. This art was not imagined by some new, creative mind, but was actually a (semi) natural occurrence. Semi because of, well, the tractor.

Jim Earl, a professor at the University of Oregon, discovered these landscapes from his airplane window seat. Taking inspiration from Emerson's essay "Circles," he began to scour Google Earth for the most aesthetic fields. He shares his favorite shots in this series, "Window Seat: The Art of the Circle Field." You can read his process, thoughts, and analysis here.

Professor Earl's article is truly fascinating. He takes us above each field and has an insightful and deep conversation about it. He discusses the connections between the natural and man-made, classical symmetry vs. "nested" fields, simplicity as a result of enormous effort, and the essence of the sublime. Also, signs of a "tractor-crazy" episode. If you love analyzing art, grab a cozy drink and have a seat. Here are a few of his words:

"What is it in these simplest of simple forms-squares and circles-imposed on a staggering scale upon the vast landscape of America's farmlands, that so captivates me? Mostly, it's the double-take produced by beautiful abstract forms, which I have to remind myself repeatedly are actually photos of real landscapes; a kind of rabbit-duck illusion, as my mind swings between seeing them first as representational images, then as abstract art."

It's amazing what you find when you see the world from a different perspective. I hope Earl's writings inspire you as much as they did me.

All images from

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Illustrations as Art

We are making little changes around here. Trying to lighten things up a bit. Minnesota winters force me to take a long, hard look at my home, because I know I'll be spending a lot of time inside soon.

More on lightening up later, but the jist is that I want my home to feel more relaxing and calm. I don't know if the kids are getting noisier, or if it's that I'm looking at so many blogs and Instagram feeds, but I just feel overstimulated a lot more these days.

Hence, little changes. Starting with our art wall along our stairway. The point of this wall is to contain my ever-growing love of images and display them among art I and other family members create. It's a fun wall, and isn't meant to be perfectly curated. But still, there is a lot of boldness going on, and I want to soften it a bit.

This frame previously housed some colorful flower photographs. Nothing special, just kind of threw them in to fill space. In my quest to neutralize it, I took a mental inventory of what we had in the house, and came up with 2 books that I have owned since my college days.

Old, old books whose beautiful period furniture illustrations don't get viewed as much as they deserve. Now 3 pages will be seen every day.

Here is an unofficial "before" reminder:

Already looking a little softer.

More changes to come...

Sharing with > Le Chateau Des Fleurs > Make It Monday > Motivational Monday > Oak and Oats > Fresh Mommy Hump Day Dump > The Jenny Evolution Wordless Wednesday > Finding Beauty > Motivational Monday > Mod Vintage Life > The Dedicated House > Confessions of a Plate Addict > Coastal Charm > Rustic Refined > Tumbleweed Contessa > Elizabeth Joan Designs > Twelve O'Eight > Huckleberry Love > Sand & Sisal > Cozy Little House > Art is Beauty > Elizabeth & Co. > A Stroll Through Life > We Are That Family > Katherine's Corner> Artsy Fartsy Mama > Chic California > Imparting Grace > What's Cooking Love  > Miz Helen's Country Cottage > The Charm of Home > Craftberry Bush > Liz MarieNancherrow > Bacon Time with Hungry Hypo > Shabby Nest > Pieced Pastimes > House of Hipsters > Thoughts from Alice > Silver Pennies Sundays > It's Overflowing > Clever Chicks > By Stephanie Lynn > Simple as That >