How to Transform Old Books Into Beautiful Stationery

Notebook with seashells cut from old guides.

I’ve always loved old books, but I realized that I had accumulated almost too many when I began to run out of room on my bookshelves. I knew that I needed another option–and one that didn’t include parting with all of them. Now, some of my old books are in great shape and are totally worthy of a prized place on a shelf or coffee table. Others, though, are diamonds in the rough. Like my numerous seashell guides and coastal travel books. The covers are sometimes unappealing, even though the interiors are filled with beautiful images. Oh, what to do?

Inspired by Etsy and craft fairs, I decided to transform them–nothing too bold (I wasn’t ready to start intricate paper cuttings or book sculptures). I tried my hand at making stationery sets, and found it to be fun and relatively easy. It shows off the beauty and charm of old books, giving them some new life off of the shelf. I wanted to share one of these projects with you today.

For these stationery sets, I tried to capture the style of old botanical prints and natural museum displays. I found that placing the shells in uniform lines on a solid background helped me achieve that look. Here are some tips to make your own:

Step One:

Find an old book with images that have clean lines, which makes the pictures easier to cut out. There are some beautifully illustrated books out there, but remember that the pictures you choose should still look good when cut away from the original page.

Step Two:

Select a notebook with a flat surface (no texture). Canvas, moleskin, and other textured finishes make it hard for the images to stick to the cover.

Step Three:

Use small scissors to cut the images out. I have found this to be easier than using a utility knife since old paper can sometimes tear easily.

Step Four:

Use an archival glue stick to adhere the images to the cover. Wet glue can sometimes make the ink in old pictures run or smear.

You can find the notebooks pictured in this post in my Etsy Shop. Feel free to email me with questions about making your own. I would love to see creative projects that you have made with old books. Leave pictures and links in the comments box below.


Hello World!

onelovetwolove_oI’m Deborah Walden Ossi, and I would like to thank you for visiting One Love Two Love and welcome you to this site. I started this blog because I’ve been a writer for many years now, but I wanted a place to explore the creative life more fully–with lots of new friends. I have always loved art. I started taking drawing lessons at age twelve, and I took all of the courses I needed for my art major (but I only have a minor since I was on study abroad when my senior show was due–France was just more fun than a senior show:) I later got my MA in art history, but like many other creative people out there, I stopped making my own art as I got more busy with my career.

Part of the goal of One Love Two Love is to inspire readers through educational posts with people who are living creative lives. Even something as simple as making crepes for the first time or decorating for your daughter’s graduation party can become a creative outlet. Art and creativity make me happy, and I want the tone of this blog to be inspiring and motivational. I would love for you to join me on your own creative path.

Creating this this blog has been so much fun, and I am excited you are here to share it with me! I have enjoyed making this site beautiful (I went overboard and even hand-lettered all of my logos) and meeting the wonderful experts in Denver who have helped me make this possible. I’ve talked to many creative people in Denver, and I look forward to telling their stories.

I would also like to say a big thank you to my husband Eddie, who has helped me so much with this project, and to my family who has always encouraged me to be creative and embrace what I love.

All The Best,