Turn Trashy Books into Treasured Items

Before I share pictures and this post with you, I have a disclaimer.

No literature was harmed in this project.

All books that were altered were not only dumpster dive finds but were probably trash for the mind as well…..Not that they were THAT kind of trash, I go to the Dumpster, not the Gutter!  But don’t they look gorgeous now! Antiqued books front with cece caldwells paints redouxinteriors

How to Upcycle Trashy Books to Look Old

Painting and antiquing books that were not serving many purposes in their current state could be my new favorite project.  This is the type of project where you see Debi’s Design Diary DIY Paint make magic with Gold Patina and Dark and Decrepit Patina.  I (painful part here) tore the spines off the books.  Just like pulling off a bandage, do it all at once, and it doesn’t hurt.

Antiqued books on side redouxinteriors

I opened a can of DIY Paint and brushed it on,  more than a dry brush, but not complete coverage. I wanted to hit the high points.

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How to Antique Trashy Books with DIY Paint Enhancements

Dark Patina is a 100% natural product from DIY Paint.  It is their Clear Patina with a lot of pigment added in.  It’s awesome to use as a stain over unsealed or even sealed wood, a glaze over sealed paint, or as I did here, making something look old.  I brushed DIY Paint Dark & Decrepit Patina over the Spine of the book and over the edges of the pages too.

Antiqued books up close cover redouxinteriors

I love the way the page ends look with the aged technique!Antiqued books pages with cece caldwells el dorado gold redouxinteriors

How to use DIY Paint Gold Patina to age Trashy Books

Gold Patina is just like Dark Patina, it’s the base used for Clear Patina, but has mica powder added.  It’s so fun to add a bit of magic and bling to any project.  It’s translucent as one coat and opaque if you apply several coats.  I used a 2nd small brush and hit the book’s high points with just the Gold PatinaAntiqued Books Redouxinteriors

How to Wrap up and finish your Trashy Books turned Treasured Items project

I tied each book with a simple piece of kitchen twine.  Sometimes it’s just the simple things, like wrapping old things up with a bit of jute twine, that really makes all the difference.

Off to destroy more trashy books.  I hope no one is cringing if you hear the sound of books’ spines being ripped away from the books….Sometimes we must suffer for our art…..

Next time you come across some books that aren’t worth reading…remember you can turn trashy books into treasured items with just a little paint and wax!

47 Comments

  1. Joyce

    Beautiful! But I’m not one for buying specialty paint or items to create a repurpsed something. So I’m gonna ‘pin’ this and hope to achieve a similar look with what I’ve already got. Great job!

    Reply
  2. Diana

    This is a fabulous idea I love aged items! Thank you……

    Reply
    • GTC

      Thanks Diana! I love making things look old. Kind of funny if you think about the culture we live in!

      Reply
  3. julie

    Sell the covers too – they would be cool for somebody’s junk journal, altered album, etc.

    Reply
    • GTC

      That is a great idea!!! I will do just that! Thank you so much Julie!

      Reply
  4. cassie

    this is such a fabulous idea! LOVE it! they look perfectly aged!

    Reply
    • GTC

      Thank so much Cassie! I was cringing at first, then I couldn’t wait to make more! I will experiment with other colors next time.

      Reply
  5. Audra @ Renewed Projects

    I know what you about suffering for our art…I’m always conflicted tearing out book pages for projects. Thank goodness they turn out so cute! Love your books. I think they would make a good photo prop.

    Reply
    • GTC

      Thank you for understanding Audra!! What a great idea for a photo prop! Better go make some more 🙂

      Reply
  6. Gigi Harlan

    Your books look really great! I love them!

    Gigi @ Old World Patina

    Reply
    • GTC

      Thank you so much Gigi. I can’t wait to make some more.

      Reply
    • GTC

      Thank you so much Kim!! At first I cringed ripping that spine off, then it was all downhill from there.

      Reply
  7. Cecilia

    Love it! You’re right, the hardest part is tearing off the spine…I tell myself they were trash anyway so I’m giving them a new lease on life – even if it’s for decor and not reading!

    Reply
  8. Jeanette

    What a great use for someone else’s trash! I love books and book crafts, but like you I am always careful to use books that are cast offs. Pinning this one!

    Reply
  9. Nancy @ Artsy Chicks Rule

    Oh my gosh…you are a hoot!! Love it!! lol ….. and wow, the books look fantastic (and old in a good way!!) I’ve got to try that.

    Nancy

    Reply
  10. Uwe

    Its looks great!

    Greetings from Germany
    Uwe

    Reply
  11. Suzan

    I’ve painted books !!!
    But yours win, hands down – just gorgeous Karen!
    xxx

    Reply
  12. Nancherrow

    Such a fun idea for adding some charm to charmless books! Thanks for sharing at Fridays Unfolded!

    Alison
    Nancherrow

    Reply
  13. Lori Lehman

    Wow what a great idea! I love seeing something new and different! Have a wonderful day!

    Reply
  14. Melanie

    Those look awesome! I love to rip apart old books to make unbound book stacks, but I have never thought about painting and aging newer books. Great idea!

    Reply
  15. Jennifer of Ivy Lane

    I just picked up a box of 12 books at an auction. They date back to 1850-1890 and you just gave me some great inspiration! Thank you.

    Reply
    • GTC

      Thank you so much Jennifer!! How did your books turn out?

      Reply
  16. Regina / Saved from Salvage

    Love your site – love your work. Just got back from picking up some old books to try this with! Thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply
  17. Rayana Botelho

    OMG! These came out gorgeous! Love your creativity 🙂

    Reply
    • GTC

      Thank you so much Rayana!

      Reply
    • GTC

      Aww, thank you!

      Reply
  18. Becky

    I think the bits of gold in these really elp make them special and different!

    Reply
  19. katie @ Upcycled Treasures

    I love how these books turned out and never would have thought to turn trash books like all antiqued and old by painting them. What a great idea and I love how they turned out!

    Reply
  20. Shelley

    These are so cute. I can’t wait to try but first I have a dumb question…what do you mean when you say “hit the high points on the book?”

    I never know what the “high points” are that master artists such as yourself talk about in furniture refinishing, and I was even more confused when the term is applied to a book. They are flat! What is the high point?!

    Help a sister out-educate me 🙂

    Reply
    • GTC

      Hi Shelley, the high points would mean anything that isn’t flat. The covers had some raised lettering, so these were the high points. High points can be anything that is not completely flat, if you are dry brushing, the paint will hit only the “high points”. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  21. Jo Nelson

    i love these. what is the brand of the el dorado gold? i don’t think it’s cece caldwell. thanks.

    Reply
    • GTC

      Hi Jo, the wax is by CeCe Caldwell’s! CeCe Caldwell’s has a beautiful line of 100% natural waxes now.

      Reply
      • Jo

        thanks. i looked further and found it, ordered everything and my books are done. i think yours look better but mine are fine for a first-times. great idea. i love it. thanks for the tutorial.

        Reply
  22. Keri

    Great idea would love to try it! It seems many of the products you mentioned are retired such as the Omaha Ochra color of paint and the aging cream. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to those products? I know the retired products can be found on other websites but I’m thinking if I want to do it more than once and those products become completely unavailable what are some good alternatives?Thanks!

    Reply
  23. Shelley

    I know I’m late to the party, but I just found this gorgeous paint finish! This is such a great old, layered, been – around – forever finish and I love how it looks on these damaged books! I’d love to know how many old books you’ve saved by sharing this project! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
  24. Catherine

    THAT is SO awesome!
    Catherine

    Reply
    • GTC

      Thank you! I have quite the stack to do this with again! Dumpsters!

      Reply
  25. Shirley

    Fabulous! Can’t believe I haven’t seen this one as I’ve been on Pinterest since it started all those years ago. I am not a book reader but I do cherish them as if I were. This is without a doubt the best craft I’ve seen for books anywhere! Beautifully done!

    Reply
    • GTC

      Oh wow! Shirley, you just made my week! This is an oldie but a goodie and it was one of my absolutely favorite projects. I find old books all the time that people are just throwing out. 99% of them are not worth reading, but at least we can turn them into another form of art! Thank you again for the sweet comment -Karen

      Reply
  26. Cheryl Atkinson

    Nothing better than making something look old., DIY paint is good for everything. I use it on all of my small projects. I haven’t painted a furniture piece yet with it. I’m too intimidated

    Reply

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