By Roz Kohls,
DASSEL, MN Several boxes of discarded books turned into not only an inexpensive way to make gifts, but a fun, creative and expressive art form for Priscilla Medcraft of Dassel.
Some of Medcraft’s vintage book art can be viewed at the Dassel Public Library.
Most of the vintage books Medcraft decorates are small and thin enough to hang on a wall. Some are thick, however, and displayed on stands or laid flat on a table or counter, she said.
How did Medcraft discover this craft?
Medcraft likes to read, especially biographies. A few years ago, her daughter gave her three to four boxes of discarded library books. After she read the books in which she was interested, she wondered what she would do with the rest of the books, Medcraft said.
Medcraft already sews pillows for an interior designer, in addition to her job with the Hutchinson School District, where she teaches in the transition assistance program. She also arranges flowers and makes decorative wreaths, so she always enjoyed being creative.
That’s when she noticed that many of the vintage book covers had interesting colors, textures or fabrics on them, and were in good condition. Medcraft already had accent items because of her pillow business, and thus was born a new craft for her, she said.
The first few books she decorated were open, face up or face down, with the pages folded or tucked into the center in an interesting fashion. Ribbon, lace and broaches were attached to make it attractive. Her favorite vintage book, which she gave as a gift, was an open, face down book, Medcraft said.
Some have a theme that matches the title of the book. Medcraft has a recipe book for desserts, for example, that is decorated with a kitchen theme.
Most of the vintage books she decorates now are closed, and not intended to be read. They are selected for color, size and texture.
“Sometimes it’s the edge of the book that gives me inspiration,” Medcraft said.
Medcraft made a set of four vintage books representing the four seasons. The books are relatively same in size and thickness, but the colors of the covers match a season.
Medcraft adds attachments from a wide variety of sources, such as old valentines, poems, and items from craft fairs, garage sales and antique shops. Occasionally she buys attachments from craft stores and archivers, she said.
Several vintage books are dedicated to the ladies in the Red Hat Society. They are decorated with little red with red hats.
Sometimes, Medcraft will purposely make the book look older than it is by wetting or crinkling the pages, and coloring them pale brown.
Medcraft creates most of her vintage book art during the summer when there’s no school, and she has more time. The most challenging part of the craft is coming up with a theme. Once that’s established, she coordinates colors and textures, she said.
Medcraft sells her vintage book art at craft fairs, consignment shops and antique stores, and to teachers to help stimulate an interest in reading in the classroom.
They make inexpensive, but attractive gifts, Medcraft said.
In addition to being profitable, vintage book art can be done from home when parents need to be with their small children.
Medcraft and her husband, Wayne, have two grown children. Their daughter, Jennifer, is graduating with a masters degree in child and adolescent psychology in Illinois. The Medcrafts lived in Illinois before they moved to Dassel in 2003.
Their son, John, is a special education teacher in Cannon Falls. Everyone in the Medcraft family has worked with special needs students, she said.